On February 3rd, the 2021 Golden Globes kicked off every media junkie, and Moira Rose’s, favorite season- awards. Starting off on a high, the industry was pleased to hear that Hollywood’s favorite funny ladies, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, would be co-hosting this year’s show from separate coasts. The excitement quickly lost steam as nominations rolled out, leaving out one major player from the list. HBO’s indie knockout, I May Destroy You, was noticeably snubbed from the running, missing from a list of admittedly lesser projects. Casual viewers and industry vets alike were left scratching their heads. Every awards season brings with it a handful of snubs and slights but given the impact of the show and the stakes of the category, it’s a confusing choice. Even a writer from the now Golden Globe nominated, Emily in Paris, admitted that I May Destroy You was more than deserving of a nomination. So, what happened?
Michaela Coel first broke onto the scene with her comedy series, Chewing Gum. While she brings her solid sense of humor to the table with I May Destroy You, the limited series is a deep dive into the emotional mechanisms at play for survivors of rape and sexual assault. A masterclass in consent, every moment of IMDY is poetically planned, set up to pack an emotional punch as we follow our protagonist, Arabella down the rabbit hole of her own trauma; much of which was inspired by the real experiences of Coel. The series garnered a massive critical response upon its release in the summer of 2020, earning additional praise among sexual assault survivors across the world. Coel created, wrote, co-directed, and executive produced the series for BBC One and HBO, and introduced the world to an incredibly talented, and predominantly Black British cast of players. Upon announcement of the Golden Globe nominees, the show spiked in Google search trends for the day, as universal outrage spread across social media. The show trended on twitter, with some calling the snub ‘criminal,’ and sharing utter disappointment, especially given the recent praise of rumored awards darling, Promising Young Woman, another story surrounding the fallout and aftershock of sexual assault. The snub has many harkening back to the ‘Oscars So White’ conversations of a few years back, wondering if the decision has anything to do with a largely POC creative team on and off the screen.
Awards season nominations always come with a bit of controversy, but this is not one to ignore. Following last year’s celebration and historic trajectory of Parasite, many were reconsidering the future of entertainment as a more inclusive and hopeful space. Some will argue that ‘it’s just television,’ but in times like this we remember the words of Malcom X, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.”
Michaela Coel’s work is the essence of art, with a social and emotional impact that most commercially successful projects will never come close to touching. In truth, a Golden Globe nomination is not the highest of praise, and Coel’s career will not be halted by this specific snub, but it has absolutely set a tone for this awards season, and should have the Emmy’s nomination committee taking pause.