"He’s still got it, Ricky Gervais," says Rob Harvilla of last night's Golden Globes performance. "Whatever it means to you in this context. However much it thrills or disgusts you. Choose your own adventure. He sucked; he ruled. As a person who revisits the relentlessly delightful Tina Fey–Amy Poehler era of the Golden Globes several times a year ('None of us have plans to do porn'), I am not here to tell you Gervais was a better host (not even close) or even particularly tolerable (not really). But nobody’s better at being intolerable on purpose, and nobody better embodied the chaotic-evil energy of a somehow already intolerable 2020 in general and the world-historically wacky Golden Globes in particular. You go to war with the award-show host you have, especially when the world itself is on the brink of it." Harvilla adds: "In the end, everybody got what they wanted. (Except J.Lo.) Our host wanted to scandalize everyone. The Golden Globes wanted various GIFs of beloved superstars looking scandalized. (Tom Hanks dutifully led the charge.) Gervais’s biggest fans wanted to feel like he stuck it to the pompous liberal elite; his biggest detractors wanted to feel like he was an insufferable disaster. The vast majority of the night’s victors wanted to speak to our fraught international climate in at least some small, dignified way. (Brad Pitt urging us all to find someone to be kind to tomorrow had a certain sneak-attack poignance.) The whiplash swerves from slightly awkward idealism to sniveling nihilism were rough, sure. But Gervais’s very particular and visceral brand of not-laughter has its place, even if that place is hell on earth. Though in the end, the best and meanest joke of the evening didn’t involve him at all."
Ricky Gervais largely played it safe with a listless monologue while letting the winners take the risks: "Gervais seemed to be delighted with himself for giving zero f*cks, but surely there is an appropriate number of f*cks to give at an occasion like this," says Dave Holmes, adding: "While Ricky Gervais behaved like there was still air to take out of an awards ceremony, he played it largely safe and let the winners take the real risks with daring speeches, bold statements, and sunglasses right out of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse."
Gervais has become tiresome -- he's become predictable at being "controversial": "Despite the preshow line about Gervais being a 'controversial,' unpredictable host — hyped unpredictability is the most predictable thing about the Golden Globes — what he did was totally expected," says Jen Chaney. "The least daring thing about it was the way Gervais couched everything he said in the idea that he was just going through the motions, a theme that asserted itself every time he announced the next presenter while reading off a set of note cards. If the bits Gervais scripted didn’t land, and a number of them did not, he could act like it didn’t bother him because it’s not like he was making an effort in the first place. The least risky thing in the world is announced apathy. Fortunately, there were other moments in the evening that genuinely were surprising and made hanging in for the duration of the three-hour broadcast less of a slog than it was in the beginning."
Golden Globes ceremony was great fun: "It was great: A night of showbiz generations, full of laughs and memories, anger and whimsy," says Darren Franich. "Martin Scorsese didn’t win anything, and everybody kept on talking about Martin Scorsese, and the camera cut to him next to Robert De Niro so often that the Statler & Waldorf comparisons practically memed themselves. Some victories were baffling, which is what you want from the Golden Globes. Some ridiculous moments were righteous, which is also part of the curious fun the Hollywood Foreign Press Association can cook up."
Ricky Gervais was Ricky Gervais, for better and worse: "Ricky Gervais opened the show and did his Ricky Gervais thing," says Kevin Fallon. "If you hire a smarmy jackass and he acts like a smarmy jackass, then presumably you’ve gotten a return on investment. He poked and prodded at the privilege and hypocrisy of the rich and famous, though his iron may be too dull at this point to stoke real fire. The bit doesn’t have the same edge, with more rolled eyes than wide eyes at the material in the numerous cutaways to unamused celebrities in the audience."
Gervais' gloom-and-doom monologue so cynical it made the effervescent Tom Hanks scowl: "The host’s acerbic wit was nothing new," says Lorraine Ali. "He’d certainly offended in the past from the awards stage, and ads for Sunday’s telecast played upon the idea that anything could happen, including Gervais being a jerk. His knack for ripping on Hollywood and offending the glitterati is well known among the thin-skinned in the industry. But at the Beverly Hilton, where the three-hour-plus ceremony took place, the mood was already sober thanks to an impeachment, the threat of war with Iran and devastating bush fires in Australia. The last thing anyone needed was for the smirking master of ceremonies to reprimand them for having hope, or taunt the room for trying to use their influence to change things for the better."
Gervais’ sense of humor was too malevolent for a good time and too lazy for incisiveness: "Half of the room was having the most delightful time," says Sophie Gilbert. "The other half wanted very urgently to remind the world about one of the 327 impending catastrophes it’s currently facing. Things weren’t helped, it has to be said, by the evening’s host, Ricky Gervais, who seems to promise every time that this is absolutely his last awards go-around, only to return as inevitably as flu season. A host’s job, normally, is to set the tone for the night, balancing irreverent topical comedy and Hollywood mystique. But Gervais’s sense of humor was too malevolent for a good time and too lazy for incisiveness. From the minute he began his monologue, the room seemed utterly opposed to his presence, and to his nihilism. An early gag about Felicity Huffman’s prison sentence was as poorly received as when Thomas Lennon tried the same thing at the Emmy Awards last year. By the time Gervais abandoned even the pretense of bonhomie to lay into tech corporations for abusive labor practices, the only thing left to do was drink. So drink people did."
Viewers were craving bad taste during the ceremony, and the Globes didn't really deliver: "When did the Golden Globes become a show that made the viewer feel vaguely guilty for wanting cataclysm?" asks Daniel D'Addario. "Its reputation, perhaps, was always a bit inflated on the basis of a few instances of ragged speeches and stars caught in the bathroom, but the ceremony had, historically, felt like a respite from the awards season’s particular gravity. Inasmuch as a show more professionally produced than ever before can be said to have been a victim, the Globes may be a victim of its own success. A show that has captured a large audience on the strength of its positioning as 'fun,' kind of can’t be that when it’s a more-scrutinized-than-ever trial run for movie actors on their path to Oscar and a platform demanding something more than burbled thanks to agents. Notably, even the most old-school, off-the-rails speech of the evening, Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker-esque acceptance of laurels for Joker, got tangled up not in ego — well, not strictly — but in social responsibility, thanking the Golden Globes for going meat-free and urging fellow stars to swear off private jets. That’s a worthy goal. But expressed as such, it tended to make subtext text — addressing the room exclusively in a way other winners had been doing more subtly all along."
Whitney Cummings defends Gervais on Twitter: "For every second you spend complaining about Ricky Gervais jokes you should have have to donate 100 dollars to Australia. I am not watching the Golden Globes live but based on how pissed off everyone is my guess is that Ricky Gervais wrote and performed actual jokes.”
Watch Kate McKinnon's emotional Carol Burnett Award tribute to Ellen DeGeneres: "If I hadn’t seen her on TV," said the SNL star, "I would have thought, ‘I could never be on TV. They don’t let LGBTQ people be on TV.’ And more than that, I would have gone on thinking that I was an alien and that I maybe even didn’t have a right to be here. So thank you, Ellen, for giving me a shot at a good life.”
Ellen DeGeneres said in her Carol Burnett Award speech: "All I ever want to do is make people feel good and laugh, and there is no greater feeling than when someone tells me that I’ve made their day better with my show, or that I’ve helped them get through a sickness or a hard time in their lives. But the real power of television for me is not that people watch my show, but that people watch my show and then they’re inspired to go out and do the same thing in their own lives: They make people laugh or be kind or help someone that is less fortunate than themselves. And that is the power of television and I’m so, so grateful to be a part of it. Thank you so much, everybody."