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As Streaming Explodes, HFPA Has Wealth of Content to Consider

Apple TV Plus's 'Ted Lasso'
Apple TV Plus’s Ted Lasso is a Golden Globes comedy contender (Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

Netflix’s Bridgerton is a late entry to the TV awards fray, having been released on Christmas Day. But with Netflix noting that more than 63 million people have tuned in to binge the period-drama delight, Bridgerton is a possible Golden Globes drama nominee ahead of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s nominations on Wednesday, Feb. 3.

The frothy series — stuffed full of jaw-dropping costumes, flashy jewelry and sky-high wigs — should appeal to the international journalists who make up the HFPA, with its setting in 1813 London and its cast of British actors. 

Bridgerton showed up right when it was needed — at the end of a difficult 2020 that included the first-ever modern global pandemic, which kept people around the world in their homes for most of the year, as well as a contentious presidential election and frequent protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

“Television was more important than ever this year,” Aaron Barnhart, TV critic for website Primetimer, said. “This is a relatively late air date for the Globes, which gives them a chance to position themselves as the predictor of Emmy winners. The Golden Globes have such a high visibility that they could actually wind up being the premiere television award, supplanting the Emmys.” 

Whether that turns out to be true remains to be seen, but the HFPA has its work cut out for it selecting among all of this year’s worthy options. 

‘The Crown’ Shines in Drama

Netflix's 'The Crown'

Netflix's The Crown is a leader of the drama pack (Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix’s The Crown, with its more serious tone and sedate look than bright Bridgerton, is probably the lead drama contender in 2021, especially without last year’s winner, HBO’s Succession, in the mix. Both last year’s winner, Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth, and Emma Corrin, with her uncanny and tragic portrayal of Princess Diana, are considered lead contenders for best actress nominations. While the two could split the vote, the HFPA is loath to repeat itself, which could push Corrin higher in contention. Josh O’Connor’s Prince Charles, with his back hunched and his hands perpetually in his pockets, also is a best actor contender.

The Crown was more scandalous and less interesting this season,” Barnhart said. Barnhart would like to see Tobias Menzes, who plays Prince Philip and has been seen on such shows as Game of Thrones and Outlander, get a nomination, as well as Erin Doherty, who plays the very stiff-upper-lipped Princess Anne.

Also considered likely drama nominations are Netflix’s oft-nominated Ozark, which aired season three in 2020, and AMC’s Better Call Saul, which is widely considered one of TV’s best shows but hasn’t earned anywhere close the number of accolades as its progenitor, Breaking Bad

Ozark’s Laura Linney, Jason Bateman and Julia Garner are all likely to score best actress, best actor and best supporting actress nods, with Garner having won the Emmy for this role in 2019 and 2020. Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk, portraying attorney Jimmy McGill’s transformation into criminal lawyer Saul Goodman, also is expected to be listed among the best TV drama actors.

Both HBO’s wild Lovecraft Country and its period piece Perry Mason should score noms, with Perry Mason star and producer Matthew Rhys leading the list of expected best-actor nominations. Rhys won the Emmy in 2018 for playing Russian spy Phillip Jennings in FX’s The Americans. Lovecraft Country leads Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett also are both expected to appear on the best actor and best actress lists.

Finally, Disney Plus’s The Mandalorian is a popular favorite, with fan love high for Baby Yoda/Grogu. Star Pedro Pascal, who played one of the villains in WarnerMedia’s Wonder Woman 1984, also could be nominated.

Telecast Set for Feb. 28

Pushed to a later date this year due to the pandemic, the Golden Globes will air Sunday, Feb. 28 on NBC and be hosted for the fourth time by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Exactly what the format will look like is unclear, with the producers saying it is too early to release their plans. But with the pandemic at all-time highs in Los Angeles, it’s highly unlikely that audiences will get to witness celebrities partying at their tables at the Beverly Hilton and cringing at jokes directed at them.

‘Creek’ Still Rising

On the comedy side, Pop TV/Netflix’s Schitt’s Creek is still riding high, with its cast — and particularly Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy as Moira and Johnny Rose — expected to grab Globes. That would be a first for the veteran Canadian comedic performers.

But with Schitt’s Creek having swept the comedy Emmys, the HFPA may want to veer to something new. Options include Hulu’s The Great, starring likely nominees Elle Fanning and Nicolas Hoult, or Apple TV Plus’s Ted Lasso, starring and created by Jason Sudeikis, which was born out of a content marketing play for NBC Sports. 

“I could see Ted Lasso getting the comedy award because it finished so strong,” Barnhart said. “It threw you off with the first couple of episodes, and then it went deep with its characters and wrapped up so satisfyingly so that you’re looking forward to season two. Who would have thought that this little promotional campaign would have become this?”

Last year’s winner, Hulu’s Ramy, remains in play, especially with a guest turn from double Oscar winner Mahershala Ali.

FX has fan-fave vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows, and a late entry is HBO Max’s The Flight Attendant starring and executive produced by Kaley Cuoco, who also is a contender for best actress in a comedy.

Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, which, like Bridgerton, is a period piece driven by buzz as well as the performance of lead actress Anya Taylor-Joy, has risen to the top of the contenders’ list for limited series. It’s joined by Netflix’s Unorthodox, which scored eight Emmy nominations and won best director of a limited series for Maria Schrader. Other contenders include FX’s Mrs. America, starring Cate Blanchett, and perennial nominee Fargo, now in its fourth iteration and starring Chris Rock. 

HBO should be competing in this category with The Undoing, starring likely nominees Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant and executive produced by David E. Kelly, as well as Michaela Coel’s auteur-driven I May Destroy You. Steve McQueen’s anthology Small Axe, which plays like a series of short films on Amazon, will likely show up here, as well as Hulu’s tortured but beautiful Irish romance Normal People.

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.