The Golden Globes honored the new and the socially progressive in TV on Sunday, with top awards going to two freshman series, Amazon's transgender comedy "Transparent" and Showtime's extramarital drama "The Affair."
Offering thanks for the comedy prize — the first Globe ever given to a show produced for an online platform — "Transparent" creator Jill Soloway said she and her colleagues could "maybe teach the world something about authenticity, truth and love."
Jeffrey Tambor, the veteran character actor ("Arrested Development," "The Larry Sanders Show") who won in the actor category, called Amazon, the online giant in the midst of a major push into original-series production, his "new best friend." But he dedicated his performance and award to the transgender community.
"Thank you for your courage, for your inspiration, for your patience and for letting us be part of the change," Tambor said.
Indeed, the themes of social change, free speech and progressive values were sounded throughout the ceremony, which is organized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., a group of journalists who work for overseas publications.
Theo Kingma, the Dutch photographer who serves as president of the HFPA, drew a standing ovation when he spoke out for free speech "from Paris to North Korea."
The Globes, telecast live on NBC and co-hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, came just four days after terrorists killed 12 people in an attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine in Paris that has published spoofs that have frequently angered Muslims. George Clooney — who was honored with a Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement — wore a "Je Suis Charlie" badge.
Last year's biggest Hollywood story — the hacking attack on Sony Pictures after its feature comedy "The Interview" upset North Korea — was mined for comedy at the ceremony. The comic Margaret Cho played a scowling, uniformed North Korean official who delivered a thumbs-down on Fey and Poehler's hosting performance. (Cho played Kim Jong Il on Fey's "30 Rock.")
Fey and Poehler drew some audible gasps from the crowd when they made jokes about Bill Cosby, the once-beloved sitcom patriarch who has been accused of drugging and sexually assaulting numerous women in the past. The allegations against Cosby, one of the most successful TV stars in history, have discomfited the industry and have generally proved off-limits to joking at major events, at least until now.
In terms of the awards, Globe voters focused on the present. Established series were mostly ignored while awards went to the new.
"We are so honored to be nominated in this category," said Sarah Treem, co-creator of "The Affair," which tells the story of an extramarital romance from the differing viewpoints of a schoolteacher turned novelist and a young waitress.
"The Affair" has yet to turn into a major hit for Showtime, yet it beat out "Downton Abbey," "Game of Thrones" and "House of Cards," all series with sizable and devoted fan bases, for the top prize.
British actress Ruth Wilson also won the lead drama actress prize for her work on the series.
Another big surprise came in the comedy actress category, when Gina Rodriguez won for the CW's freshman series "Jane the Virgin." She rose to the top in a category that included Julia Louis-Dreyfus of HBO's "Veep" and Edie Falco of Showtime's "Nurse Jackie."
Kevin Spacey took a lead actor prize for Netflix's political drama "House of Cards," which, like "Transparent," is part of a first wave of made-for-online series now reshaping the TV business.
The first season of FX's "Fargo" — based on the 1996 crime thriller by the Coen brothers — already won the miniseries prize at the Primetime Emmy Awards in September. On Sunday it netted a Globe in the same category, beating out contenders including HBO's adaptation of the AIDS classic "The Normal Heart." (Billy Bob Thornton won the actor prize for "Fargo.")
Alluding to the perceived sensitivity now pervading pop culture, Thornton remarked, "You can say anything in the world and get in trouble. I know this for a fact."
So the actor merely said thanks, smiled and strode offstage.