Awards telecasts, for better and often for worse, double as ultra-glitzy reality shows. There’s the highly scripted pretense of unscripted human drama. There is, underneath a veneer of studied chumminess, a decidedly not-here-to-make-friends vibe. There are the intra-contestant tensions, amplified by canny producers. So it was fitting that, during Sunday night’s Golden Globes, producers did what they could to Real Housewives-ify the 73rd incarnation of the venerable awards ceremony. They sat actors competing in the same nomination categories at the same tables. They made sure the champagne flowed freely. And, most obviously, they brought in one of Hollywood’s most reliable feather-rufflers, Ricky Gervais, to act as host.
Gervais’s return to the Globes stage was the rough equivalent of the return of former contestants Amber and Becca to compete for the affections of Ben Higgins on the current season of The Bachelor: It was weird, and awkward, and evidence of a certain dark genius. Gervais’s presence—that impish smile, that agent-of-chaos flair, that menacing glass of beer—meant that insult comedy would be the order of the evening. (“With all these rich, beautiful celebrities having the time of their lives,” Gervais said at the outset, tauntingly, “let’s hope no one spoils that.”) Which in turn meant that literally anyone—literally everyone—in the audience was a potential target of his mockery. All of which combined to amplify the role of a traditional mainstay of the live-broadcast awards show: the reaction shot.