Critic's Notebook: The Offbeat Golden Globes Nominations Put the SAG Awards to Shame

Matt Roush
Golden globe statue
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Golden Globes - key artCasual—this year's Golden Globe nominations may have left you wondering what you've been missing, or what the Globes voters were smoking.

Reflecting a year of "peak TV" with so much remarkable content being produced on so many new platforms, the Globes list is refreshing and startling in its embrace of offbeat and sometimes willfully obscure fare: Hulu's Casual, Amazon Prime's Mozart in the Jungle (both up for best comedy), Netflix's Narcos (drama), Starz's Flesh and Bone (limited series).

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Starz

Outlander: Overlooked no more

The most pleasant surprise may have been the love shown toward Starz's lush romantic fantasy Outlander, with three nominations (for drama and stars Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies). The least pleasant: the shut-out of HBO's much-improved second season of The Leftovers, with standout performances by Justin Theroux, Carrie Coon, Ann Dowd, Regina King among others.

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If there's a downside to the Globes' deep dive into the niches, however worthy some of the results, it's that lots of great work is being ignored from the mainstream. With the exception of Fox's breakout hit Empire, no broadcast drama or comedy made the best series cut: no The Big Bang Theory or The Good Wife from CBS, none of ABC's terrific family comedies—including the diverse new voices represented by black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat­or Fox's bold comedy experiments like The Grinder and The Last Man on Earth. NBC, which is airing the Globes on Jan. 10, came away completely empty-handed. (The snub of Parks and Recreation's final season, including past host and winner Amy Poehler, is especially jarring.)

Parks and Recreation Series Finale

Colleen Hayes/NBC

Major misstep: Leaving out Parks and Recreation

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Still, the Globes contenders are so much more satisfying than the stagnant pool of nominees for the SAG Awards announced a day earlier, an uninspired retread of seasons past that ignored the exceptional ensembles of FX's Fargo and ABC's American Crime (each of which made good Globes showings, with nods for Fargo's Kirsten Dunst and Patrick Wilson, and Crime's Felicity Huffman and Regina King).

Of the very few new SAG nominees, Mr. Robot's Rami Malek and Better Call Saul's Bob Odenkirk also deservedly earned Globes attention, while SAG nominee Ellie Kemper (Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) was somehow left out of the Globes' eclectic comedy-actress field, which includes Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's fearless Rachel Bloom alongside fellow CW star (and last year's winner) Gina Rodriguez of Jane the Virgin, the legendary Lily Tomlin for Netflix's Grace and Frankie, Scream Queens' campy Jamie Lee Curtis and Veep's perennial Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

The Veep Emmy darling is one of several who made both Globes and SAG rosters: How to Get Away With Murder's Viola Davis, Mad Men's Jon Hamm (on his final victory lap), House of Cards' Robin Wright, Transparent's Jeffrey Tambor, Orange Is the New Black's Uzo Aduba, Luther's Idris Elba, Bessie's Queen Latifah and Wolf Hall's Mark Rylance.

Lady Gaga American Horror Story Halloween Costume

Frank Ockenfels/FX

Lady Gaga

Among this year's more notable Globes head-turners: Aziz Ansari (Netflix's Master of None), Penny Dreadful's seductive Eva Green, Narcos's Wagner Moura (as a memorable Pablo Escobar), Mozart's dashing Gael Garcia Bernal, The Grinder's self-spoofing Rob Lowe, Oscar Isaac of HBO's Show Me a Hero, brooding Ben Mendelsohn of Netflix's Bloodline, and of course, Empire's fabulous Taraji P. Henson.

And then there's Lady Gaga, whose posing on American Horror Story: Hotel is less than skin-deep and whose nomination is in the not-so-proud Globes tradition of pandering to celebrity. The Golden Globes are often accused of being more about the party than the prestige, and seeing them go gaga over Gaga does nothing to lessen that conviction.

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