The Globes were first to recognize iconic shows like Roseanne, NYPD Blue, and The X Files.
The Golden Globes are famous—nay beloved—for their kooky, puzzling, nonsensical, sometimes even infuriating nominations in the TV races. (Jennifer Love Hewitt: Golden Globe nominee for the 2010 Lifetime original movie, The Client List, in which she plays, no joke, a hooker with a heart of gold.) This year's nods were unusual as well: 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, and Community are snubbed in Best Comedy in favor of middling cable laughers Enlightened and Episodes; there's no Breaking Bad in Best Drama, but Kelsey Grammer's Boss makes it into the race; and actress Callie Thorne from an alleged TV show called Necessary Roughness is nominated for Best Actress in a Drama. (I'm still polling every person I know for proof that this is actually a television show that has been seen by a human.)
So it may seem easy to ridicule the Golden Globe Awards, or even write them off as a poor barometer for the best that television has to offer. But that would ignore the fact that on the big night—when Ricky Gervais is hurling insults at those primped and glamorous movie stars, Jack Nicholson is drunk on champagne, and the trophies are actually handed out during the national telecast—the Golden Globes have a stellar track record as a kingmaker.
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Especially over the last two decades, the Globes have been the first to reward high-quality, hot, and, in some cases, future iconic shows and actors—for some of which it takes years to be rewarded by the more "prestigious" Emmys, most of which never do. Roseanne? The Golden Globes named the groundbreaking sitcom Best Comedy in 1993. The Emmys never even nominated it in that category. The X-Files, Grey's Anatomy, and Curb Your Enthusiasm all deservedly won Golden Globes early on in their storied runs, never to capture the top prize at the Emmys. That's not to mention the egregiously Emmy-less actors—Steve Carell, Hugh Laurie, Jon Hamm—who all have Golden Globe statues sitting pretty on their trophy cases.
So before you cave to the disgruntled TV critic who harumphs that the Golden Globes are pointless and don't mean anything, remember the organization's uncanny ability to tap into the pop culture pulse at the moment. Sure, there's a defense to be mounted that Frasier actually deserved each of its roughly 37 Best Comedy Emmys. Or an argument, I suppose, that Candice Bergen and Helen Hunt (who've won five and four Emmys, respectively) are acting deities, and rewarding any other actress nominated for an Emmy against them is tantamount to worshipping false idols. But inventive, boundary-pushing, and—daresay—popular shows deserve recognition too, and that's precisely the role that the Golden Globes fills, and fills so well.
This year, the Globes has the opportunity once again to be the first to honor future classics and indelible icons. Game of Thrones could easily bring a statue back to Westeros, a bold reward for a drama that's changing how stories can be told. American Horror Story may hear its name called for making a dormant genre popular once again, or Homeland and its stars Claire Danes and Damien Lewis could win the first hardware in a future haul that's sure to rival greats like The Sopranos or The West Wing. And on the comedy side, the Globes may be the organization to welcome Zooey Deschanel's unique brand of quirky comedy on New Girl to the library of unforgettable female TV characters.
Are the Globes wacky? Sure. But as history tells us, they're certainly worth paying attention to. Here are some examples of times when they made better choices than the Emmys: