My only problem with the Globes is that I have yet to figure out their criteria for classification. I have already written about the arbitrariness of how the Emmy Awards have muddled the distinction between drama and comedy (classifying United States of Tara as comedy, almost as if in denial of the more serious subtext of the narrative). The Globes muddy the waters further by adding “miniseries or movie” as a category along with “drama” and “musical or comedy.” As a result Homeland ended up classified as drama, while Game of Thrones ended up in the “miniseries or movie” category. The good news is that this allowed both Kelsey Grammer to be acknowledged for getting to exercise some solid acting chops in Boss (drama), while Idris Elba could be similarly recognized for Luther (miniseries). It also meant that Game of Thrones (miniseries) did not have to compete with Homeland (drama), even if that means that it was then bested by Downton Abbey. (It also leads me to wonder if this “game of categories” had been designed to make sure that the judges would not have to choose between Downton Abbey, which is as best a mild, although highly polished, diversion, and Homeland, which left any serious viewer wondering just what has been achieved in “Homeland Security” since 9/11.)
I know better than to kid myself. I realize that David Simon was able to hone his craft in television while working on Homicide for NBC. However, I suspect that the constraints imposed by NBC made him seek out a less restrictive environment, which he found in HBO (perhaps by virtue of Charles Dutton, who already had plenty of reputation, making his directing debut with a miniseries for HBO based on The Corner, a book that Simon had co-authored). Both NBC and HBO make programming decisions that are ultimately “ruled by numbers.” However, it seems as if HBO and Showtime are more willing to take a “portfolio management” approach to their numbers that makes them less beholden to that consciousness industry and the need to ground everything in a subtext of consumerism and its addictive nature. In the movie industry, on the other hand, the exceptions to the rule come from those odd independent efforts that may make the occasional splash or two but will never make a wave big enough to shift the status quo.