“Succession.” “Big Little Lies.” “The Crown.” “The Morning Show.”
Class warfare is alive and wealthy among the Golden Globe nominees for top television drama, which were revealed Monday along with the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.’s other film and TV choices ahead of January’s award ceremony.
As for the nominated comedies? “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Fleabag,” “The Politician” and “The Kominsky Method” acknowledge the wealth gap … but from the perspective of rich white folks as they gaze out of penthouse windows, argue over lavish dinners and grow old on L.A.’s Westside.
This love affair with the 1% is enough to make the Joker cackle uncontrollably, especially as America’s middle and working classes are circling the drain. And it’s enough to make one pine for the cramped kitchen and tattered sofa of “Roseanne.”
In a year when television offered so many fresh narratives, many of which tackled issues of class and race — including “When They See Us” and “Watchmen” — it’s disappointing yet predictable that voters stuck with the equivalent of “Dallas,” “Dynasty” and “Falcon’s Crest.” They chose aspiration as their guide, social disparity be damned.
Not to belittle the excellent drama of Season 3 of “The Crown” or AppleTV+’s entertaining new offering “The Morning Show.” Each production spins an absorbing narrative around women who are left cleaning up the messes of the men who came before them. And, news flash, they have to work twice as hard to maintain power. The nominated comedy “Fleabag” thrives in its own wonderful mess, no clean-up required, thanks to the singular vision of its creator and star, Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
But if one were to touch down on this planet for the first time and use the Golden Globes’ list of TV contenders as America’s cultural barometer, they’d assume that the only stories worth telling — or worthy of winning an award -- were those of the well-heeled.
Ramy Youssef carries the burden of representing the only immigrant story of the bunch thanks to his surprise nomination for comedy actor in Hulu’s “Ramy.” It’s TV’s first Muslim-American comedy, and though it’s fearless and deeply funny, he’ll definitely need Allah on his side come Jan. 5.
There’s a whopping two — yes, two! — actors who play working-class heroes in the drama series actor category, and they’re played by actors of color, no less (also in shortage across all the Golden Globe TV categories). Rami Malek’s anticorporate hacker Elliot, of “Mr. Robot,” and Billy Porter’s ballroom diva Pray Tell, of “Pose,” are up against a prince and an heir to the throne (Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip of “The Crown” and Kit Harrington as Jon Snow on “Game of Thrones”).
The filthy rich publishing tycoon of “Succession,” Logan Roy (played by the now-nominated Brian Cox), gets a paragraph of his own. You would have thought by now that folks would have soured on tales involving loaded, undeserving families who fail upward into seats of power. But no, this drama features enough designer loft/private helicopter/house in the Hamptons porn to keep viewers — and the HFPA — enamored until we’re all outsourced into poverty. Twitter loves this show. If only “Succession” were half as interesting as the social media buzz it generates.
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is another award-winning mystery. She’s marvelous mostly because she’s rich — and because actress Rachel Brosnahan is undeniably charming. But the “risk” of doing stand-up comedy in midcentury America isn’t really a risk at all when a girl can rely on her prosperous parents’ fortune. The voting body really stretched on this multiple Golden Globe/Emmy winner.
There are, of course, exceptions: In “The Morning Show,” supporting actress nominee Reese Witherspoon plays scrappy, Middle American reporter Bradley Jackson. Kirsten Dunst of “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” and Natasha Lyonne of “Russian Doll” portray characters who live paycheck to paycheck — when they have jobs. “The Act,” set in small-town Missouri, and “Barry,” following the travails of military veterans and struggling actors, aren’t exactly tony either.
Showtime’s satisfying take-down of late Fox News founder Roger Ailes in “The Loudest Voice” was nominated for limited series consideration. It’s one production that doesn’t drool over its affluent subject. Instead, it chronicles how he manipulated Americans into voting against their own interests. It’s running against the best TV production of the year, “Chernobyl.” No one but cronies were rich in Soviet-era Russia, so the prospects for turning this historical drama into a radioactive “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” were slim.
Who will win television’s class war when the envelopes are opened at the 77th Golden Globe Awards in 2020? We’ll see — when it’s aired from a ballroom, in Beverly Hills.