The 78th Golden Globe Signals a Lengthy Road to Equity

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On February 3rd, the nominations for the 78th Golden Globe Awards were announced virtually. Immediately, some categories garnered widespread attention; many noted that the typically male-dominated directing category was comprised of three women out of the five nominations and that Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman was nominated posthumously for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. However, a certain show’s nomination evoked both confusion and angry discourse from many internet users. 

Golden Globes

Artwork by Dorothy Knutson

The comedy-drama series Emily in Paris centers around Chicago marketing executive Emily Cooper and her experience as she travels from an American marketing firm to its Parisian branch. Though the binge-able show attracted many Netflix users following its initial release (amassing over 676 million minutes viewed within its first week), the same viewers who fawned on it in October denounced it entirely in February. The consensus? Though the show was a lighthearted, romantic romp suitable for a relaxed weekend, elevating it to award-winning status? As the French say, non. 

But the discourse surrounding whether or not the show was worthy of its recognition wasn’t entirely focused on its merit, or lack thereof. Many also pointed out that critically-acclaimed programs that featured BIPOC and LGBTQ+ actors didn’t receive any nominations from the organization. The first of many cited was Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You, a series that follows Arabella, a character based on Coel herself, in the aftermath of her drugging and rape at a bar. Amongst those who voiced their dismay was Deborah Copaken, an author and screenwriter, whose credits include none other than Emily in Paris itself.

Emily in Paris aired a few months after I’d spent June and July marching for racial justice through the streets of New York with my kids. I could definitely see how a show about a white American selling luxury whiteness in a pre-pandemic Paris scrubbed free of its vibrant African and Muslim communities might rankle. But [my] excitement [over the nomination] is now unfortunately tempered by my rage over Coel’s snub. That I May Destroy You did not get one Golden Globe nod is not only wrong, it’s what is wrong with everything” (The Guardian).

These disparities can be attributed to a clear statistical offense. Over the last two decades, there have not been any Black voting members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, or HFPA. This lack of representation at a fundamental decision-making level signals that the awards show is anywhere but near equity. 

The final output of the Globe’s nominations, however, wasn’t entirely hopeless. Three Black film actors won in their respective categories, a dramatic contrast from the one BIPOC winner (Awkwafina for The Farewell) awarded last year. Furthermore, Chloé Zhao made history as the first Asian woman to win Best Motion Picture Director for her film Nomadland. Though these successes may represent positive growth, until shows like I May Destroy You are recognized for their bravery and artistry, Hollywood has a long road ahead.