Months of promotional hand-wringing over Ricky Gervais and his audacious flair for mildly disrespecting famous people reached its boiling climax at last night’s Golden Globes, with Gervais ruthlessly scalding the likes of Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, Eddie Murphy, and other people who were not actually in the room. As of this morning, Gervais had yet to offer a formal refusal to apologize for suggesting that Kardashian does not take the institution of marriage seriously, or that Eddie Murphy wears a lot of fat suits in his movies. And that’s to say nothing of his skewering host network NBC for being both poorly rated and “nonprofit,” which is the sort of joke that so rankles NBC, it only allows 30 Rock to make it every other episode.
In the meantime, perhaps they can all take some solace in the quick ripostes offered by the likes of Madonna, who responded to Gervais’ shocking insinuations that she’s no longer “like a virgin” by daring Gervais to come and “do something about” the virginity that he was suggesting she didn’t have anymore, because she hadn’t “kissed a girl in a few years,” with the verbatim banter being every bit as awkward and unfunny as that explanation. Or Colin Firth—whose unelaborated introduction as “a racist” counted as one of Gervais’ more biting moments—who compared Gervais to a plague of biblical pestilence punishing the whole of Hollywood, because that is what his team prepared for him to say based on the assumption that Gervais would actually be as ruthless as he kept promising he would be.
Of course, it’s not like Gervais was given opportunity to say much of anything, seeing as he disappeared for great stretches of the broadcast—and the job of introducing presenters who might have proved ripe for digs (Ashton Kutcher, Robert Downey Jr.) fell again and again to the voiceover announcer. Meanwhile, a couple of offhanded comments from Seth Rogen about concealing a Kate Beckinsale-inspired erection and the “hilarious” My Week With Marilyn, George Clooney’s salute to Michael Fassbender’s penis, and Dustin Hoffman dryly thanking his wife and agent for giving him the strength to present an award made for some of the biggest cut-ups of an otherwise staid and boring night. And at one point, Meryl Streep said “shit,” and there’s no way that Gervais getting an affable, probably stoned Johnny Depp to admit he’s never seen The Tourist is going to top that.
There were a few other funny moments scattered amid all the drab sincerity, like: Tina Fey and Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s photobombs, The Artist producer Thomas Langmann’s very heartfelt acceptance speech being totally upstaged by a dancing dog, Modern Family's bilingual urging of actresses to have sex with writers, Morgan Freeman's Electric Company reel getting equal airtime to Driving Miss Daisy, Matt LeBlanc acknowledging that he is not very interesting, this. Unfortunately, this year the Hollywood Foreign Press Association mostly had to fall back on actually awarding people things—always a disadvantage with such an underwhelming lineup of Oscar contenders, and an honor so irrelevant that it couldn’t even get Ryan Gosling to show up by nominating him twice.
Granted, things were slightly more interesting on the TV side, with Downton Abbey, Peter Dinklage, and Homeland winning big, and Kelsey Grammer besting the likes of Bryan Cranston, Damian Lewis, and Steve Buscemi, which is its own cruel joke. Perhaps not as cruel as suggesting that Kim Kardashian is sort of cheap, but provided you’ve ceased reeling from the implication, here’s a place to discuss that and other observations from last night. And here's the complete list of winners, if you care about that sort of thing.