With the announcement of the 2021 Golden Globes nominations, the largely predictable round of backlash surrounding the Academy’s choices has officially begun. Awards season is all well and good for us pop culture junkies, but over the last couple of years it has become increasingly apparent just how behind the times the committees that select nominations can be. With each passing year the various academies in charge of the accolades seem to miss the mark, angering the growing young generation exponentially with every ceremony. From this year’s truly baffling Grammy Award noms to #OscarsSoWhite practically being an annual routine, it has become increasingly clear that not only can the ceremony not please everyone, but more people than not are actively displeased by the nominations. This year’s Golden Globes, just like the Grammys, feel especially egregious.
That growing youth culture is undoubtedly one of the main factors leading to the public turning on awards shows in the last half-decade. Visual entertainment consumption habits are changing, thanks in large part to Gen-Z and the relationships they have with modern technology and the stars they choose to stan. For that reason, the collective Gen-Z standpoint largely dictates what “makes the cut” in pop culture and what is relegated to the dustbin of obscurity; or worse, “cancelled.”
The unrepentant violence that is James Corden doing a homophobic portrayal of a gay man in a musical about gay rights.
— Phillip (@MajorPhilebrity) December 12, 2020
The content Gen-Z consume and the content they laud do not necessarily overlap on their entertainment Venn Diagram. Nobody will doubt the overwhelmingly high viewing numbers Emily in Paris garnered in such a short time, a huge chunk of which came from Gen-Z. But the reviews go directly against its not one, but two nominations, and for the most part the young people watching it understand it for the mindless and artless distraction that it is. They may have watched it, but for a generation so enamored like none before with the concept of “hate-watching” or watching just for the irony or meme-factor, they never saw it as deserving of any accolades. Even Emily in Paris writer Deborah Copaken thought as much when she issued a public apology to the snubbed Michaela Coel.
Gen-Z covets shows that are woke, with the times, culturally aware, and tackle issues once thought taboo. “Relatable content,” the ultimate status for virtually any consumer, applies especially to Gen-Z, and to put it bluntly, very little of this year’s Golden Globes nominees exhibit that trait. It is just as frustrating to see things we revile put on a pedestal as it is to see our favs we believed so desperately in shut out of the picture. To see James Corden nominated for his portrayal of a gay man in the Lifetime-esque The Prom – which was predominantly seen as offensive and perpetuating of harmful LGBTQ+ stereotypes – over the groundbreaking work of say, Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You, just goes to show that the Academy really doesn’t know what people want any more. Granted the Golden Globes are often lower brow than their big cousins the Oscars and the Emmy’s, but that’s no excuse for remarkable work getting the boot in favor of drivel.
I May Destroy You is a thoughtful, gut-twisting, smart, and trauma-informed exploration of the impact of sexual violence. One of the best shows I have seen. Michaela Coel, the writer, co-director AND executive producer deserves all the flowers. What a huge miss #GoldenGlobes pic.twitter.com/Gy70eLjEDp
— Farrah Khan (@farrahsafiakhan) February 3, 2021
That said, while still not perfect, the film categories fared a little better this year. With acting noms for the late Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Riz Ahmed, Dev Patel, Daniel Kaluuya and other actors of color, as well as a record three nominations for female directors, there was far more representation than previously for movies. That’s why it is such a shame that the TV side dropped the ball so hard, with an unsettling trend of POC-centered stories and the actors and writers behind them almost completely shut out this year. These awards cannot have it both ways, they need to be serious about representation in all categories, especially when there has been such stunning and groundbreaking work by people of color this year.
So for the sake of cultural documentation, lets take a look at some of the content that would have made the cut had the growing Gen-Z population had a say in the voting process:
Michaela Cole & I May Destroy You
Of the many snubs this year, Michaela Coel’s magnum opus I May Destroy You is perhaps the most deserving. Telling the heartbreaking story of a young woman piecing her life together with the help of her friends after being raped in a club, I May Destroy You shines light on issues of sexual assault specifically within the Black and LGBTQ+ communities, all while remaining hilarious and poignant. Absolutely sublime from start to finish, that it was left out is truly baffling.
Check out our exclusive interview with I May Destroy You’s Paapa Essiedu here.
Not all shows need to focus on school life to appeal to Gen-Z, but that sure as hell doesn’t mean PEN15 doesn’t stand out. Some may find the concept of full-grown adults acting as 13-year olds surrounded by actual 13-year olds to be too juvenile. But this hilarious take on a middle school comedy “as it really happened” really lets its entire cast shine, and is hilariously cringey in all the best ways.
The Cast of Lovecraft Country
While the show itself was able to thankfully score a nomination for Best Television Drama, the cast of Lovecraft Country was criminally overlooked this year. Featuring an ensemble of nomination-worthy actors, the show melds the worlds of horror, drama and camp in a neatly bundled package that turns H.P. Lovecraft, America’s favorite racist, into an all-around statement of Black excellence. We could truly see noms for any of the cast, but particularly for two leads Jurnee Smollett and Jonathan Majors, as well as supporting actress Aunjanue Ellis.
Bridgerton was lauded particularly for being a period piece that eschewed historical accuracy in favor of colorblind casting, but that isn’t the only reason it deserves a spot here. The saucy drama takes the strengths of Shonda Rhimes previous pulpy works on ABC like How to Get Away with Murder and Grey’s Anatomy and runs with them, and creates something colorful, enchanting, and addicting in the process.
See our exclusive interview with Bridgerton’s Martins Imhangbe here.
The opposite problem of Lovecraft Country, while Ramy’s creator and star Ramy Youssef did manage to snag a nom for Best Actor in a Television Series: Comedy or Musical, his namesake show went unmentioned. For tackling so poignantly the often ignored stories of Muslim Americans, both directly following 9/11 and in the present day, Ramy deserves every bit of praise it can get. The show served as a place of solidarity of Muslim youth in America, and it deserves recognition.
If there is one genre Gen-Z cannot get enough of, it is cringe-comedy. Coming off the Emmy’s pleasant surprises of nominations for both Insecure as well as it’s creator and star Issa Rae, and supporting actress Yvonne Orji, it’s a bit of a genuine shock that show was left entirely out of this year’s Golden Globes. Hilarious and awkward in equal measure, Insecure’s fourth season deserved better.
Euphoria & Zendaya
Even more shocking than Insecure’s snub was Zendaya’s, considering her Emmy win just a few months ago. Not only that, but Euphoria, the Gen-Z favorite for it’s surreal yet relatable take on high school, was ignored as well. If we had to pick only one nom-worthy performance though, it would be Zendaya’s turn as Marie in Netflix’s Malcolm & Marie. Despite its rocky screenplay, Zendaya was able to show us a rock solid performance distinct from her other roles.
Da 5 Bloods
Like we said, the Golden Globes film categories did fair a little better than TV this year, but that only makes Da 5 Bloods’ absence all the more jarring. Spike Lee’s visionary status remains strong here, with an expertly crafted war film that also served as Chadwick Boseman’s final film released in his lifetime.
Never Have I Ever
Never Have I Ever certainly did not garner the best reviews from critics. But then again, neither did Emily in Paris! If you want our take though, this amazing moment in South Asian representation is a great candidate for essential Gen-Z viewing, especially for finding ways to be funny and touching without falling back on stereotypes.
We don’t mean to keep highlighting coming of age/family stories here, but there is a reason they resonate so well with young people. When the film industry decides to highlight the story of a minority person’s upbringing (a growing, but still too infrequent occurrence), it tends to stand out. And when the results are as touching, funny, and eye-opening as this, it’s hard not to get upset when the higher-ups don’t seem to notice. Special shoutout to supporting actress Youn Yuh-jung. Let’s not even mention that racist Golden Globes rule.