Golden Globes 2021 – how did you forget about this?
Golden Globes’ nominations have been released on February 3rd, 2021. In the list of television series, however, too many names are missing. Masterpieces that provided the television industry of great and insightful narratives seem forgotten by the awards’ list of nominees. 2020 has been by far the most extra-ordinary year that the 21st century’s (western) society has gone through, but still too many white faces are dominating the Golden Globes’ nominations. This year’s great forgotten is I May Destroy You, created, written, co-directed, executive produced and starred by Michaela Coel for HBO. Michaela Coel portrays Arabella, a bragging tweet-writer who got famous through social media and who is trying now to write her first book. Arabella writes, has sex, does drugs, and takes the power to tell people how and what they should feel. I May Destroy You is an uncomfortable series, both for its plot and its protagonist. A story about sexual assault, where the victim is a black girl and the rapist is a white man (Lewis Reeves). A story that unfolds through the episodes, as the protagonist tries to remember the events of that night, and that culminates in the last, unforgettable episode where the rapist can cry, love and die (not in this order). With all the due respect to The Crown, Ozark and Ratched, I May Destroy You is the drama series that we wanted to see at the Golden Globes.
The Queen’s Gambit, was it worth it?
For inasmuch I was secretly hoping not to find The Queen’s Gambit – not because it is a bad series, but because it lacks in original and honest representation – I was not surprised to find its name in the nominations. The Queen’s Gambit fails in the attempt of representing female empowerment. Paradoxically, the only empowering aspect of the series can be foreseen in the group of (male) friends that decide to help Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) in her last game. There is excitement and team-work in between those young chess players that seem not to care anymore about the gender of their genius friend. Yet, The Queen’s Gambit is a problematic series. The protagonist is the full stereotype of the genius on the spectrum. She could be a male, female, non-binary or transgender person and yet it wouldn’t have made a difference. There is no emotion, no connection, no relationship – a great lack for a truthful representation of human beings. There is no development in the character. Beth starts as outcast cynic little girl and she ends as outcast cynic young woman. The Queen’s Gambit is not the best series that 2020 presented. That is why the nomination for Anya Taylor-Joy as best actress in a limited series almost annoys us – or, me.
Little Fires Everywhere and coming to terms with our own life
Where is the nomination or Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington for Little Fires Everywhere? Where is even its nomination for best drama series? Little Fires Everywhere is another great forgotten of this awards. The series talks about the encounter between two women: on one side, the white middle class Elena Richardson (Reese Witherspoon) who gave up her career as a journalist to take care of her four kids; on the other side, Mia Warren (Kerry Washington), a talented black artist and single mother who hides a complex past. Little Fires Everywhere puts white and black culture into dialogue through two different, still so similar, women. Whenever you think you understood characters’ traits and qualities, Little Fires Everywhere changes everything. Bad and good merge into each other in characters, plot and events. In the end, there is no winner and no loser – everybody needs to come to terms with their own life’s choices.
The outstanding women of I Hate Suzie
More stories have been cast outside the Golden Globes. Apparently, this year, not only black women have been cast outside, but also real ones. In I Hate Suzie, the private cloud of Suzie Pickles (Billie Piper), a television actress, is hacked and private pictures with sexual content are released online. The series, however, goes beyond that. Suzie does not live a celebrity life – she is a working actress, she needs to go to casting and she needs to work in order to maintain herself and her family (as the majority of actors around the world do, but media seems to often forget about it). Suzie is the opposite of the politically correct – she is a mother who does drugs, who has sex, who masturbates, screams and who has mental breakdowns. Billie Piper’s performance is outstanding, as it is the one of Leila Farzad in the role of the agent, Naomi Jones. Naomi tries to support Suzie, to find her jobs, to help her through the mediatic assault she is a victim of. But, Suzie cannot be saved. Suzie needs to explore her hell, to grasp the bottom and, finally, to understand that life goes on. There is no happy ending, there is no closure. I Hate Suzie teaches us that life simply goes on – there is not a final prize, there is no the public recognition of her value as a person, there is nothing. And, this is why, in the end, there is everything we need to know.
The white list of television’s Best Actresses
Whether we have nothing to contest against these nominations, we still need to ask: how is it possible that only white women nailed their performances in 2020 – with a special mention for the Israeli Shira Haas that had to be there (who is still read as white, anyway)? As we already mentioned, there are great titles with exceptional portrayals of black women that have not been included (and there are many more, but this article has to end at some point). It is unforgivable that the Golden Globes Academy did not even problematize the presence of such a white, stereotypical, normal cast of women. Such a questionable list risks not only to be deeply criticized and rejected by artists coming from minority groups, but it also overshadows the performances of the actresses who made it into the list. Wherever there is a lack of representation, the represented realities becomes the symbol of a biased culture, losing value in themselves. The problem are not the actresses – even though some of the nominations could be, at least, questioned – the problem lies in the structural homogeneity of the faces. It also seems that the Golden Globes 2021 were afraid to nominate women who played stronger, complex, alternative roles. Women in power, women who fail, who go to the toilet, have sex and swear.
A longer list
The list of titles and names could continue but, as the Golden Globes, also this reflection needs to be partial. Nominations are partial, sometimes they are also biased and wrong, but this is part of the game. There is someone who decides, and someone who reminds them that television is evolving, and that the audience knows more than the four titles they want us to remember. Television series are stories that, once told, won’t go away. They will stay there and they will keep living their own life, with or without a prize. One thing has to be clear – if Academies cannot provide the quality and representation that the audience is searching for, then there will be something or someone else that will occupy that place. Honesty, diversity and relatability need to be the values on which we are telling stories. They also need to be the reasons why we are giving prizes. Otherwise, they will be remembered as Alex’s prize in The Morning Show – “and by the way, we bought it for you.”