How the Golden Globes TV Battlefield Erupts as Contenders Aim for ‘Maisel’-Like Bump

Michael Schneider

While Oscar pundits were busy on Thursday morning dissecting what the Golden Globe nominations might mean for the Academy Awards, small screen execs were just as eager to see what might be the next show to get “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” bump.

“Maisel,” of course, is the critically acclaimed Amazon Studios series starring Rachel Brosnahan as a 1950s New York housewife who discovers her skill in standup comedy. The show’s first season debuted last year on November 29. Less than two weeks later, it had already been nominated in two key Globes categories: musical or comedy series and comedy actress (for Brosnahan).

Five weeks after that, “Maisel” surprised many by winning both categories — setting the show up for an Emmy campaign. “Maisel” went to win eight total Emmys — including top prizes for the show and its star.

“Something like ‘Maisel’ needed attention early on,” says one awards publicist who wished not to be named, as they work on competing projects. “That Globe win propelled that show in a way nothing else could have.”

Because of its timing, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. has often been able to award new shows ahead of the Primetime Emmys. And its small membership — around 90 journalists — means that the HFPA can also quickly turn on a dime, rewarding new shows and excising aging shows that have already won, or are a little long in the tooth (a frequent criticism of the Emmys, which often gets stuck in a streak, awarding the same winners year after year).

This year, the HFPA appeared ready to double down on the new, as previous winners such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “This Is Us” star Sterling K. Brown were pushed aside for freshman programs including “Homecoming,” “The Kominsky Method,” “Bodyguard,” “Escape at Dannemora,” “Kidding” and “Pose.”

Awards consultant Rich Licata calls the TV awards landscape a “battlefield,” now that Peak TV has made it more difficult than ever to break through.

“I think the streaming services have really upped the ante in the Golden Globe game. And for awards seekers who are desperate for any attention that will catapult their show into the zeitgeist, they are using the Golden Globes as a vessel to get there,” he says.

One analyst notes that, in the world of TV awards, the Golden Globes and various guild kudos (most notably, the SAG Awards) are considered the long runway to Emmy campaign season. And they’re not far off, as Emmy For Your Consideration events creep into late February.

“People looking at awards season as a year-round thing see those early awards as something you can use to either reintroduce a show once campaign season heats up, or gain early attention for a show so that you have an advantage when you start the hard work of an Emmy campaign,” one observer says.

No one has the exact count, but from a purely anecdotal standpoint, there has been a rise in TV For Your Consideration ads — traditionally seen during Emmy season — during the film awards cycle. “I’ve seen so many billboards,” says one awards consultant. “I’ve even seen a For Your Consideration commercial on TV. I can’t remember seeing a ton of specific TV FYC this time of year.

Perhaps the clearest sign that TV networks and studios are paying more attention to Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. members (and guild nominating committees): The return of the holiday party, but with a twist: Networks and studios are starting to ring in the season by early November, in order to double down and use those celebrations as subtle FYC events. NBCUniversal’s cable networks threw a holiday kick-off on Nov. 8, inviting press — and HFPA members — to mingle with producers and stars of awards contenders like Bravo’s “Dirty John.” The following week, YouTube, NBC, Hulu and Netflix also threw bashes — with talent out in full force.

For many of those stars, the handshakes and photos with voters paid off: Connie Britton, who stars in “Dirty John,” was a popular guest at the NBCU cable party, for example, and now she has a Globe nomination for limited series/tv movie actress.

“It’s a way to capture them when they’re all in one place,” says one awards pundit, who notes that the foreign press frequently travel and aren’t all U.S.-based. But much of the membership is in L.A. in November to catch Oscar screenings and FYC events.

“You try to plan things around where the highest concentration of them will be here,” a campaigner says. “Holiday parties, if they’re in and around LA, you’ll get a large number of them to come. And you can kill two birds with one stone. It’s a warm and fuzzy environment for them to meet the people in your series.”

The Globes may even hold more importance in television now than in film. While the road to the Oscars is paved with countless film festivals, critics association events and crafts awards, there isn’t much of a similar path for TV.

“The film business has all those festivals that shepherd it into awards season,” Licata says. “You have Cannes, you have Venice, you have Toronto, the New York Film Festival, to build up a beachhead. With TV, Golden Globes is the first stop. You have an environment of 500 original shows and people are like, how do I get in? That’s where you see all the spending, all the parties, all the ads. We’re at a point where it’s very difficult to get attention for a TV show unless you launch with rhapsodic reviews. And suddenly you’re in the zeitgeist.”

Related stories

Golden Globes: Listen to the Five Nominees for Original Song

Golden Globe TV Nominations Miss Opportunities for More Inclusion

Fandango Offering 50% Off Golden Globes-Nominated Movies and TV Shows

Subscribe to Variety Newsletters and Email Alerts!