There has been widespread outrage at the failure of the Golden Globes to recognise I May Destroy You, the masterwork written by and starring Michaela CoelTWITTER/PANDREZZZ

On February 3rd, 2021, this year’s Golden Globes nominations were announced. These highly recognised accolades are meant to celebrate excellence in American and international film and television. The 78th iteration is to be held on March 1st, following a regular ceremony that has occurred almost every year since 1944. This year’s nominations followed the usual pattern of very worthy nominees, such as Emma Corrin, Olivia Colman, and Daniel Kaluuya. However, there was a startling and rather incomprehensible omission from the nominee list: the ground-breaking television show, I May Destroy You, created by, starring, and directed by the outstanding Michaela Coel.

“Coel refuses to take her foot off the pedal for the entirety of the series, hooking viewers into this multi-layered, gripping narrative, finishing with an ambiguous trio of conclusions that each bring their own sense of finality.”

The brilliance of the television show has already been recognised again, and again. Many have dubbed it one of the best television shows of 2020, praising Coel’s mastery of plot. Her touching yet riveting narrative tells of a London-based writer following the aftermath of a horrific sexual assault. Coel shines a pervasive and unflinching spotlight on the nature of victim blaming, loneliness, and systemic discrimination. While doing so, she also rejects didacticism, offering different perspectives that force viewers to come to terms with their own assumptions. Coel refuses to take her foot off the pedal for the entirety of the series, hooking viewers into this multi-layered, gripping narrative, finishing with an ambiguous trio of conclusions that each bring their own sense of finality.

So why wasn’t she nominated? Why was this undeniable feat of television entirely disregarded? The pill is all the more bitter when we consider that Emily in Paris was nominated twice — for Best Television Series (Musical or Comedy) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series (Musical or Comedy) for its lead Lily Collins. It is no secret that this show, while entertaining, was not one that many would consider “award worthy”. Deborah Copaken, a writer for Emily in Paris published an op-ed in The Guardian admitting that she was “stunned” with the snub, claiming that I May Destroy You was her “favourite show ever” and “deserves to win all the awards”.

Coel also wrote and starred in her breakout show Chewing GumTWITTER/MODERNGURLZ

Perhaps you could say that the omission was due to the show being set in England and written by a UK-based writer. However, this argument falls flat on two accounts. One, the show premiered on the American network HBO (who Coel works closely with), and two, The Crown, a series detailing the historical intimacies of the British Royal family, received six nominations in a number of areas. This is not just solely about Coel: her fellow main cast members Weruche Opia and Paapa Essiedu also received no nominations for their supporting roles. Many of us have asked and fought for, time and time again, appropriate representation in television and film, a cause spotlighted following a tumultuous summer of worldwide Black Lives Matter protests. Coel gave us that, through her heart-warming, complex, and insightful exploration of the challenges of being a young, Black woman from the diaspora living in London. She also used her first-hand experience to delve into the psyche of a survivor of sexual assault, using her writing as a method of catharsis. It is infuriating that, despite the progress made with a plethora of diverse narratives, these still remain ignored by media elites.

Judas and the Black Messiah's Globes nomination failed to recognise the performances of cast members like Dominique Fishback, pictured here with co-star Daniel KaluuyaTWITTER/BOSSIP

These are not just empty complaints. It is a well-known fact that notable awards allow more leverage and negotiation power in the industry. Coel has experienced difficulty with this, with the distributor Fremantle refusing to give her the title of executive producer for the second series of her breakout show Chewing Gum (2015-2017), despite the series being her creation. I’d like to make a comparison to Fleabag (2016-2019): both are fourth-wall breaking comedy series written by and starring women that were picked up from one-woman fringe performances (the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival for Fleabag and the 2012 London Fringe Theatre for Chewing Gum). Waller-Bridge has been an executive producer for both series of Fleabag, a role that was kept from Coel’s deserving hands due to racial biases that tainted the entirety of the production.

“Sadly, in an industry that is dominated by white and oftentimes male workers, it is unsurprising that such gifted creators are continually sidelined. However, this must not repel us from watching, celebrating, and creating these works.”

The accomplishment of I May Destroy You has been well recognised, with Coel being nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the show winning the Independent Spirit Awards for Best Ensemble Cast in a New Scripted Series. There was also a litany of celebrity support and a collective outburst of surprise and anger upon the announcement. But, fundamentally, we shouldn’t have to accept commiserations as an equal concession. This year, there were some Globes nominations to celebrate: there were three women, two of those being people of colour, that were recognised in the directing category. But again, incremental change is not substantial after years, centuries even, of campaigns and industry promises to do better. Even great successes have been mired by underappreciation: though Kaluuya was nominated for Judas and the Black Messiah, there was no such grace bestowed upon his fellow leads LaKeith Stanfield and Dominique Fishback for their standout roles. This all reminds me of when Parasite won Best Film at the 2020 Academy Awards, and yet none of its incredible cast members such as Park So-dam and Woo-sik Choi were nominated for their performances.


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Sadly, in an industry that is dominated by white and oftentimes male workers, it is unsurprising that such gifted creators are continually sidelined. A 2017 Color of Change report into the writer’s rooms of Hollywood found that 91% of showrunners are white and 80% are male. In the UK, only 2% of filmmakers are BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) women, and as of 2020, only six Black British female directors have had a feature film released in cinemas. However, this must not repel us from watching, celebrating, and creating these works. While Coel has not made any comments on the Globes, she has stated that she is planning on creating a new series and may partner once again with HBO. As a long-time admirer, I will certainly be watching. I hope you will be, too.

Coel's monologue Chewing Gum Dreams was performed at the Yard Theatre, the Bush Theatre, and The National Theatre before being adapted into the hit seriesTWITTER/NATIONALTHEATRE