Z on TV Critic David Zurawik writes about the business and culture of TV

Taking something extra away from 'Kominsky' win at Golden Globes

There wasn’t anything at the Golden Globes Sunday night to rival the emotional power of Oprah Winfrey’s speech last year at the awards show.

But there were a couple of moments for me during last night’s telecast that were special and even instructional.

My favorite drama and comedy, “The Americans” and “The Kominsky Method,” respectively, won as best drama and comedy, something that never happens with awards shows. I have come to hate the awards show genre, probably because I have had to review hundreds of bad ones during my career. At their worst, they define the artifice and emotional phoniness at the heart of Hollywood and too much of television.

You can read a column I here that I wrote about my admiration for “The Americans” as it resonated in its last season with all the Russia talk in our culture today. It’s headlined: “’The Americans’ ends its brilliant run in a culture downing in talk of Russians, spies and Washington lies.” You get the idea.

But I am ashamed to not be able to link to a column or review of mine on “The Kominsky Method,” a sharp-edged, wise and touching comedy about two Hollywood guys in their 70s, an acting teacher played by Michael Douglas and his agent played by Alan Arkin. It is created by Chuck Lorre, one of the most successful TV producers in Hollywood with series like “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men.”

I pitched the show one week as the topic for my Sunday column in print, but when something off the news broke mid-week, we went with that instead. I could blame not writing about the Netflix series on trying to be timely, but the truth is I could have found a way to write about it another time if I really wanted to, and I didn’t. I should have..

When it comes to entertainment media, my core navigational tool in charting a course through the sea of content I encounter is to pay special attention to that which I consume for pleasure, not because it is part of my job.

I went out of my way to find time to stream the eight episodes Netflix offered of “The Kominsky Method.” They were uneven. One episode totally sunk under the weight of way too many jokes about prostate issues. And I kept wishing the characters would show a tiny bit of self-knowledge about the privilege they enjoyed in Beverly Hills, even though Sandy Kominsky (Douglas) is in rocky financial shape.

But the best episodes moved me deeply. Those were mainly about the death of the wife of Norman Newlander, the character played by Arkin, and how emotionally devastated he was by it.

There were also fine moments in the relationship between the self-absorbed Kominsky and his daughter, Mindy (Sarah Baker), who despite her dad’s inflated opinion of his importance in the world of acting, is the one who keeps his little acting studio going. Nancy Travis, a sitcom veteran, shines as an older student at Kominsky’s studio with whom he would like to have a relationship. She is too smart and savvy to let that happen on his terms.

No comedy streamed or on network or cable TV explores the loneliness, doubts, fears and ongoing sense of loss involved in aging like “The Kominsky Method.” That makes it extra special.

I should have gone out of my way to support the daring work of Douglas, Arkin, Lorre and Netflix. I should have helped steer readers to this show.

Before Oprah’s speech last year, I usually went to bed after the “Golden Globes” telecast thinking how off the wall some of the awards were and how excessive (and possibly drunk) some of the hosts were.

Not this year. I went to bed resolved in 2019 to make sure I find a way to write about every “Kominsky Method” I encounter this year. I thank the Golden Globes for that.

david.zurawik@baltsun.com

twitter.com/davidzurawik

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