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My favorite time of year has come: award season! And even though the Academy Awards (aka “The Oscars”) are considered the most prestigious, my personal favorite is the Golden Globes because it incorporates television and film.
In the next couple of posts I will do my best to give you an evaluation of the nominees in the women-related categories and make some fearless winner predictions. But what’s most important to remember is that this has been an excellent year for women in television, evident in the tough competition in their categories. Whoever wins, we’ve all already won!
Let’s start with the Best Series, Drama award. The nominees are: “The Affair,” “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Good Wife,” and “House of Cards.”
My prediction: “The Affair” is going to win, simply because it’s been touted as one of the best shows of 2014, a sentiment with which I disagree. Most of you loyal readers, know how much I had been looking forward to this show which stars two of my favorite actresses, Ruth Wilson and Maura Tierney, and seemed like it set out to create something new: a complex show about married couples’ lives and their struggles.
But the show’s creators have made some very serious mistakes. First off, why did they need to throw in a murder mystery? I thought the whole point was to make the show about marriage and why people stray. Throwing in a “whodunit” feels forced and it takes away from the originality of the premise.
Second, the “he said, she said” concept, which sounded very promising, seems absurd when the characters’ memories are so vastly different that we are led to wonder if one of them, or both of them, is lying. Are we voyeurs or are we sitting in the detective’s seat, trying to decipher what really happened? Are we getting a confidential insider look into their minds, or are we being duped?
Third, nobody on the show is really likable. And I do mean, nobody. Ruth Wilson’s Alison, who in the pilot broke my heart, turned out to be a fickle and sometimes unsavory character. The only reason we really sympathize with her is because of the loss of her child. Helen is an arrogant bore, whom, I guess, we are expected to dislike so that Noah can feel free to cheat on her without antagonizing us too much. And yet Noah is an entitled prick who cares about no one but himself and is, frankly, a loser. The teenage girl is a horror show; the father-in-law is a pompous ass; and matriarchs Cherry Lockhart and Margaret Butler (the always wonderful Mare Winningham and Kathleen Chalfant, respectively) are objectionable matriarchs.
Fourth, the show started off deadly bland. It’s not enough to “wow them at the end;” you have to keep them watching so they can get there!
The only way for this type of show to work long-term (and it has already been renewed for a second season) is to turn it into an “American Horror Story” type of anthology. There are so many unique marriage/affair stories to be told that every season could feature a new cast of characters and an entirely new story. Knowing how this business usually works, however, what is more likely to happen is that the writers will have to come up with new, convoluted ways to stretch the story of these two couples out. Maybe they’ll throw in another crime to solve. But whatever they do, the show will way outstay their welcome, a la “Revenge.”
My choice: I don’t watch “Game of Thrones,” so I can’t speak to its greatness. I know it is a beloved and highly-acclaimed show, but it just doesn’t do it for me.
“House of Cards” has had a semi-strong second season, but it needs to be careful not to cross the line between extremism and absurdism. It’s a very fine line to tread.
“Downton Abbey” always delivers award-worthy seasons because it is a superb show.
But no one can or should beat “The Good Wife” this year. A season that started out full of angst managed to pull off one of the greatest surprises in the history of digital-era-television. In a time when no one can keep secrets anymore, the show dropped a bombshell with the death of a central character that no one saw coming. This event caused a cast full of strong women working together to close ranks even further.
“The Good Wife” could win every season, but unaccountably never has. This is the year!
In the Best Actress in Drama Series category, the nominees are: Claire Danes (“Homeland”), Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder”), Julianna Margulies (“The Good Wife”), Ruth Wilson (“The Affair”), and Robin Wright (“House of Cards”).
My prediction: “The Affair” and Ruth Wilson might take this category, too. Though if Wilson should have won for anything it should have been for her sensational role as alluring psychopathic murderess Alice in “Luther.” She is excellent in anything she does, but so are the other four actresses in this category, which makes things very tough.
My choice: Claire Danes is always superb, and Brody’s death gave her some good emotional arcs to chew on in season 3. But I would hold her award for next year, when she should win for the exhilarating fourth season (and the show should win then, too). Robin Wright’s Ice Queen Claire Underwood got a great abortion story to tackle in season 2, but the season as a whole was definitely not as exciting as the first one.
As much as I love Viola Davis and usually think she could chew gum and make it an award-worthy performance, Annalise Keating is the one role that I do not think brings out the best in her. The character is badly-written and, frankly, I find her distasteful.
This year belongs to Julianna Margulies, who is having more and more intricate storylines and complex (and repressed) emotional journeys. She has not won since her first year in 2010. As far as I’m concerned, she could have won every year, but this year she must.
BUT WAIT! Where is Tatiana Maslany in this category? You know, that unknown chick who plays about a half dozen characters in every single episode of “Orphan Black” and is an actress of the same caliber as a young Meryl Streep? We asked the same question last year when the various award shows announced their nominations and her name was absent from all except, ironically, the Golden Globes. What is wrong with these people? Maslany should have been nominated, and she should have won!
As for Best Supporting Actress, can someone explain to me why we have one category for all supporting actresses, when it’s one of the strongest category of them all??? Nevertheless, the nominees are: Uzo Aduba (“Orange is the New Black”), Kathy Bates (“American Horror Story: Freak Show”), Joanne Froggatt (“Downton Abbey”), Allison Janney (“Mom”), and Michelle Monaghan (“True Detective”).
My prediction: Uzo Aduba will win. Not only has she turned out to be the most celebrated actress on the show, but also the second season put her center stage and gave her much more to play with. And she is excellent, no doubt.
My choice: I could have easily made this an all-around tie. Although I didn’t watch last season of “American Horror Story,” Kathy Bates is never less than perfect. The darling Joanne Froggatt had one of her best seasons, with an intense rape story and its aftermath (though why don’t any of the other “downstairs” characters ever get nominated? The show wouldn’t have been as good without any one of them!). And even though I have only seen a little bit of “True Detective,” I can say that just for being the single living female character on this very sexist season, Monaghan should get some credit.
But I want Allison Janney to win. “Mom” has been one of my favorite comedies in years. It is such a funny and irreverent show. And it’s all about women: women who are messy, but smart; troubled, but kind. Janney could definitely continue her winning streak. It certainly seems to be her year!
Notably missing from these three categories is “The Americans,” one of the most original shows and some of the best acting we’ve ever seen on the small screen.
Tune in next week as I dissect the rest of the women-related categories!
Last week I gushed about how fantastic “The Newsroom” was, especially with the way it treated the rape on campus story. Since then, however, it seems like most of the other voices that have been floating around online have been decrying the storyline as exploitative and blaming Aaron Sorkin for being a white privileged man who wrote the story with a sexist mind-set.
I could not disagree more. Am I the only one to see how Sorkin, the king of leftist, liberalist, cynical writing, built the scene up to expose the ugliness of how the media treats survivors of rape? Isn’t that what the whole show is about, exposing the truth behind how our media works, the good along with the ugly?
Don didn’t want to put the rape victim through a tough interview; he was there to ask her to refuse his producers’ request that she’d go on his show side-by-side with her rapist, just so that the show would get Jerry Springer-like ratings. He then proceeded to show her what victim-blaming is, to demonstrate to the audience what the media often does to rape victims. However, the girl refused to be a victim again, this time at the hands of the media, and her decision to appear on the show was made from a place of power, not weakness. We were meant to see just how the media silences survivors of rape; we were meant to be made to question the way the news handles rape stories.
Maybe I got it all wrong, but I find it hard to believe that of all people, Aaron Sorkin would be the one to shamelessly accuse a rape victim of her own rape and actually mean it. People who have watched any of Sorkin’s shows know how his fast-paced and thorny mind works. And anyone who has watched “The Newsroom” knows that by creating an idealistic, elevated-from-reality type of a news show, Sorkin is trying to shed light on the fact that the news media has lost its watchdog identity in the soulless capitalist pursuit of money.
I give “Law & Order: SVU” two months tops to deliver a storyline about a beloved, aging comedian who is being accused of rape and sexual harassment by multiple women from his past. Unlike real life, even though the statute of limitations has run out on the crimes, I expect the SVU story will find a way to serve up some justice. It usually does.
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