All of Hollywood was looking to Seth Meyers to see how he’d deal with the year that blew the secrecy off sexual misconduct and inequality in the entertainment industry.
Sunday night’s Golden Globes ceremony is the first awards show in the wake of the storm that was 2017, famously a warm-up for the Oscars, and Meyers, as he worked to balance humor with the seriousness of those issues, was the canary in the coal mine. How would he manage to beat up on Hollywood’s sexism problem without diminishing it with jokes, all while honoring its denizens at the same time?
Hosting the Globes for the first time, Meyers was just fine. He didn’t own the night in the way Chris Rock did when he hosted the Oscars during the also difficult #OscarsSoWhite year, when no black people were nominated in major categories. But he jumped right into the jokes with the greeting, “Good evening, ladies and remaining gentlemen,” and he continued to shamelessly slam the likes of Woody Allen, Kevin Spacey, and “the elephant not in the room,” Harvey Weinstein. It was a hit-or-miss monologue, as Meyers imported the “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell” segment from his “Late Night” show to mixed results. But his hits were good, including one edgy bit about Weinstein’s return to the Golden Globes in 20 years — to be “the first person to be booed during the In Memoriam.”
He also slipped in a few Donald Trump jokes, of course, noting that the Hollywood Foreign Press is “a string of three words that could not have been better designed to infuriate our president. The only thing that could make him angrier would be the Hillary Mexican Salad Association.’
All of Hollywood was also looking to the Globes, to help narrow down a year of award-worthy movies that has no clear leader. There seems to be no consensus yet, but winners such as James Franco as best actor in a comedy for “The Disaster Artist” and Sam Rockwell for best supporting actor in a drama for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” may be lighting the way.
The TV winners confirmed the Emmys of a few months ago, with winners including “The Handmaid’s Tale,” its star Elisabeth Moss, and “Big Little Lies” nominees Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgard.
On the red carpet, we knew we’d see a stripe of black dresses and suits, a fashion statement against systemic sexism in Hollywood, the reverse of the line of enslaved women wearing red in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” We knew we’d hear Meryl Streep and other stars — a few, including Michelle Williams and Emma Watson, were accompanied by activists — talking about #MeToo and the group Time’s Up, an initiative against harassment and inequality in the workplace. We knew we’d see all kinds of black fabrics, from tulle and Viola Davis’s lush velvetas, as well as a black gimmick or two. I’m talking about your black nail polish, Chris Sullivan of “This Is Us.”
As Giuliana Rancic put it, “We’re not asking, ‘Who are you wearing?’ We’re asking ‘Why are you wearing black?’ ” If you’re a fan of name designers, you were left wondering.
But no one expected Debra Messing to turn the lens of the moment onto E! itself, mentioning an E! host who had left the network last month. “I was so shocked to hear that E! doesn’t believe in paying their female cohosts the same as their male cohosts. I miss Catt Sadler, so we stand with her. And that’s something that can change tomorrow.” That was some prime time dragging, Gracie. E! asked her why she wore black, and she told ’em.
I spotted only one truly old school red carpet moment, amid all the important talk about power imbalances and inequality. While finishing up with Ryan Seacrest, best song nominee Kelly Clarkson went rogue at the sight of a particular actress. “Oh my God, that’s Meryl,” she yelled. “That’s Meryl Streep! Can I meet you? I’m such a fan.” Clarkson’s wish came true. For a moment like that, some people wait a lifetime.Matthew Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com.