Amazon Studios finally has a hit on their hands with Transparent. The e-commerce giant which launched itself into the streaming video space in 2010 scored its first Golden Globe nominations today. The globes recognized Amazon’s Transparent with a nomination for Best TV Comedy, putting the show up against buzzy hits like HBO’s Girls and Silicon Valley, Netflix prison comedy Orange Is The New Black and another newcomer, The CW’s Jane The Virgin. Series lead Jeffery Tambor also scored a nomination for Best Actor In a TV Comedy which leaves him in the company of Don Cheadle, Ricky Gervais, Louis C.K. and William H. Macy.
Transparent stars Jeffrey Tambor as parent of three adult children transitioning from male to female. The show also features the talents of Gabby Hoffman, Jay Duplass, Amy Landecker, and Judith Light as Tambor’s three children and ex-wife respectively. Created by Jill Soloway, whose previous work includes HBO hit Six Feet Under the show is arguably the most adventurous product of Amazon’s pilot experiment. Rather than leave decisions about its upcoming originals up to a room full of suits, Amazon regularly produces new crops of pilots and leaves it to the people to choose which will have the chance to move forward to series. The Transparent pilot immediately gained traction with early viewers and was almost instantly waved through to series.
Amazon has been chasing this moment for years. Despite several slates of ambitious pilots the streaming platform has yet to have its “Netflix moment,” a show that will cement its image as a destination for premium television entertainment. With Transparent the tide could now be turning in Amazon’s favor. A strong first time showing at the Globes suggests that Emmys may not be far behind.
For streaming services those nominations and wins are the real key to success. Amazon’s two nominations, coupled with Netflix’s six, hint at a big year from streaming TV overall. While traditional television networks are still mostly concerned with ratings which drive advertising dollars, streams like Amazon are more concerned with buzz. Awards generate attention, attention generates buzz, and buzz generates paid subscriptions. For streaming providers it’s subscriptions, not advertisers, that keep the lights on and the cool new content flowing.