Quinta Brunson’s ABC comedy series “Abbott Elementary” reigned supreme as the top TV winner at the 80th annual Golden Globe Awards, which were presented at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California, on Tuesday. The show about an underfunded public elementary school in Philadelphia won three Golden Globes — more than any other TV show at the 2023 Golden Globes ceremony.
The “Abbott Elementary” near sweep came in a year of heavy scrutiny of the event’s leaders because of previous criticisms of a lack of diversity and other issues. NBC had the U.S. telecast of the show, which was livestreamed on Peacock. Comedian Jerrod Carmichael hosted.
Brunson, who plays teacher Janine Teagues, is the star and showrunner of “Abbott Elementary,” which won Golden Globes for Best Comedy Series; Best Actress in a TV Series – Musical or Comedy (for Brunson); and Best Supporting Actor – Television (for Tyler James Williams). In her acceptance speech for Best Comedy Series, Brunson said: “I created this show because I love comedy … Comedy brings people together … And during a very tough time in this country, I’m very happy that ‘Abbott Elementary’ is able to make so many people laugh.”
Williams, in his acceptance speech, made reference to his “Abbott Elementary” teacher character Gregory Eddie, who is believed to be on the autism spectrum: “I pray that this is a win for Gregory Eddie and for his story and for stories like his, that we may understand that his story is just as important as all the other stories.”
Another first-time Golden Globe winner was Zendaya, who won t the prize for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama, for her role as complicated teenager Rue Bennett in HBO’s “Euphoria.” Zendaya did not attend the ceremony.
Angela Bassett offers nod to late Chadwick Boseman
Angela Bassett was the only Black winner in the ceremony’s movie categories. She received the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – Motion Picture, for her performance as Queen Ramonda in Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” As she accepted the statuette, she talked about her team’s emotional journey: “We mourned, we loved, we healed. And we were surrounded each and every day by the light and spirit of Chadwick Boseman,” she said, referring to the “Black Panther” star who died of colon cancer in 2020.)
Bassett added, “With this historic ‘Black Panther’ series, it is a part of his legacy that he helped to lead us to. We showed the world what Black unity, leadership and love looks like beyond, behind, and in front of the camera.” Bassett previously won a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, for her portrayal of Tina Turner in 1993’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”
Eddie Murphy received the Cecil B. DeMille Award, a lifetime achievement prize whose recipient is announced several weeks before the Golden Globes ceremony. Murphy, who was presented the award by Tracy Morgan and Jamie Lee Curtis, ended a brief acceptance speech with a joke about Will Smith’s controversial outburst at the 2022 Academy Awards: “There is a definitive blueprint that you can follow to achieve success, prosperity, longevity, and peace of mind … Just do these three things: Pay your taxes, mind your business, and keep Will Smith’s wife’s name out of your f**king mouth!” (The curse word was bleeped out of the telecast.)
The Golden Globe Awards, traditionally held every January, are voted for and presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), a journalist group that has been tainted by controversy over racism and mishandling of funds. In February 2021, The Los Angeles Times revealed that the HFPA did not have any Black members for about 20 years, and HFPA members received money and gifts under circumstances with questionable ethics.
The backlash against the HFPA was swift and severe: Several movie/TV studios, sponsors, publicists, and celebrities announced boycotts of the HFPA and the Golden Globe Awards, until drastic improvements were made in the group’s diversity and gift-receiving policies. NBC also dropped the 2022 Golden Globe Awards ceremony for the same reasons. The HFPA still held a Golden Globe Awards ceremony in 2022, but it was not televised or webcast.
After the boycott, the HFPA implemented a diversity task force; made its membership transparent and more racially diverse; switched from being a nonprofit group to a private, for-profit group; and changed its ethics policies for HFPA members to have a strict monetary limit on receiving gifts that are meant to influence member votes. The HFPA currently has 90 official members, of which five members (or 5.6%) identify as Black. The HFPA revamp included adding a second tier of 103 voters, who are non-official members with voting privileges, but they do not have all the perks of official HFPA members. According to statistics provided by the HFPA, 14 (or 13.6%) of these 103 voters identify as Black.
Emmy-winning comedian Carmichael, hosting the Golden Globe Awards for the first time, centered his seven-minute opening monologue on the HFPA’s racism scandal and why he thinks he was chosen for the show: “I’m here because I’m Black … I won’t say they’re a racist organization, but they didn’t have a single Black member until George Floyd died, so do with that information what you will.”
Jerrod Carmichael delivers searing opening remarks
Carmichael’s low-key, deadpan comedic style (and the audience’s lukewarm reaction) with a monologue focusing on the HFPA’s race issues were in stark contrast to previous Golden Globes hosts (most notably, Ricky Gervais and the duo of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler), whose opening monologues were high-energy peppered with well-received jokes poking fun at the celebrity attendees and other people in the entertainment industry.
The 2023 Golden Globe Awards telecast was produced by Dick Clark Productions and Jesse Collins Entertainment in association with the HFPA. And even though Jesse Collins and Dionne Harmon served as executive producers, Carmichael said it was former BET executive Stephen Hill (one of the telecast’s producers) who personally called him to host the show. Carmichael quipped: “One minute, you’re making mint tea at home. The next minute, you’re asked to be the Black face of an embattled white organization.”
Carmichael also revealed that his salary for hosting the Golden Globe Awards was $500,000, and that he was very reluctant to agree to a required one-on-one, sit-down conversation with HFPA president Helen Hoehne after accepting the job. “I know a trap when I hear a trap,” Carmichael said. When he got more pressure to participate, he said he thought: “Or what? They’re going to fire me? They haven’t had a Black host in 79 years. I’m the first one. I’m un-fireable.”
Carmichael then added, “I took this job assuming they (the HFPA) hadn’t changed at all. I’m here, truly, because of all of you. I look into this room, and I see a lot of talented people, people I admire, people I would like to be like, people I’m really jealous of, and people who are really incredible artists. Regardless of whatever the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s past may be, this is an evening where we get to celebrate, and I think this industry deserves evenings like these. And I’m happy you all are here. And I’m happy I’m here.”
Black presenters at the show included Jennifer Hudson, Niecy Nash-Betts, Letitia Wright, Billy Porter, Jay Ellis, Colman Domingo, Nicole Byer, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, and Regina Hall. Porter presented TV mogul/creator Ryan Murphy with the Carol Burnett Award, given to pioneers in television. During his speech, “Pose” executive producer Murphy asked the audience to give “Pose” star Rodriguez a standing ovation for being the first transgender actress to win a Golden Globe, a groundbreaking achievement that happened at the 2022 Golden Globes ceremony.
A complete list of winners can be found at the official Golden Globes website.