Over the weekend, the 70th annual Golden Globes honoured the creme de la creme of TV and film, awarding the likes of HBO's "Girls," Showcase's "Homeland," and PBS's "Downton Abbey" (about which no one should have been surprised). Who didn't win? Any television shows that air on network TV, which was actually completely shut out.
That's right: the Golden Globes had no love for "New Girl," no accolades for "Modern Family," and not even a moment of silence for "Smash's" scarves. This year, cable television officially reigns supreme -- but do the awards even matter to the big networks?
Not according to the current Nielson ratings, which led to the following TV shows making up the U.S. top 10:
1) "NBC Sunday Night Football" (ABC) -- 17.0 rating, 30.281 million viewers
2) "Sunday Night Football NFL Pre-Kick" (ABC) -- 12.2 rating, 21.911 million viewers
3) "The OT" (FOX) -- 10.2 rating, 17.813 million viewers
4) "Football NT America Pt. 3" (NBC) -- 8.8 rating, 15.901 million viewers
5) "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS) -- 7.4 rating, 12.013 million viewers
6) "60 Minutes" (CBS) -- 6.5 rating, 10.265 million viewers
6) "Person Of Interest" (CBS) -- 6.5 rating, 10.326 million viewers
7) "NCIS" (CBS) -- 6.1 rating, 9.836 million viewers
8) "Two and a Half Men" (CBS) -- 5.7 rating, 8.621 million viewers
9) "Criminal Minds" (CBS) -- 5.4 rating, 8.564 million viewers
9) "NCIS: Los Angeles" (CBS) -- 5.4 rating, 8.622 million viewers
10) "Elementary" (CBS) -- 5.2 rating, 8.055 million viewers
Clearly, network TV is more concerned with success through ratings (and sports) as opposed to cable TV, which prides itself on user subscriptions and award wins. However, this year, the shows to earn top honours are ones that not only live up to the "cable network" standards, but they're also relevant and actively watched. See: HBO's "Girls" -- the subject of controversy and countless think pieces -- which walked away with awards for both best actress, and best television comedy. Arguably, its win over the likes of ratings darling "The Big Bang Theory" (which was watched by 20 million people last week) represents the changing face of 20-something-oriented television: funny, real, and relatable.
However, it's not like network comedies are completely out of touch with quality television. Golden Globe hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler both earned nominations for their roles in "30 Rock" and "Parks and Recreation," respectively, although neither of their shows are ratings powerhouses. Their talent is not to be questioned, however, as the pair proved their comedic capabilities countless times throughout the three hour-long broadcast (not to mention throughout the course of their careers).
However, the drama category is a different story.
While network comedies at least earned Golden Globe nominations, network dramas did not. "Breaking Bad" (AMC), "Homeland" (Showcase), "The Newsroom" and "Boardwalk Empire" (HBO), and "Downton Abbey: Series 2" (PBS) were nominated for top honours, while top-rated shows "Elementary," "Criminal Minds," and both "NCIS" were not. Do the Golden Globes and other award shows serve to create a divide between network and cable viewers, or do the major TV networks purposely avoid creating complex, controversial dramas?
Well, neither. While the Golden Globes may overlook some of the highest rated programming on network television, the fact that three sports shows round out the top 3 shows prove that in terms of audiences, entertainment ranks above "art." Therefore, award shows bestow honours upon "deserving" series, while network TV continues to create programming that keeps its audiences happy.
At least, that's how it works for now. Unlike years past, when having a subscription to cable networks meant an entry into an elite world, Internet streaming sites like Netflix have broken down barriers and made award-winning television shows accessible to more people than ever before. Perhaps as time passes, and viewers get a sense of the thought-provoking television they're missing out on, networks will have to catch up with evolving tastes. You can only ride the ratings wave for as long as the ratings even matter.