Julia Roberts is Homecoming Queen

The Golden Globes are tonight (8PM on NBC), and it should give us a good idea of how award season is going to go for movies. Will Vice really dominate? Is Vice really a comedy? Will Roma catch hold and make Netflix legitimate player? (Our predictions: Yes, No, & No)

But today we’re taking a look at Homecoming starring Julia Roberts.  It’s nominated for Best Drama Television Series, with Julia Roberts up for Actress in a TV Drama Series, and Stephan James is up for Actor.

And honestly, we don’t get it.

Having loved Julia Roberts since Mystic Pizza, I couldn’t wait to watch this series. It builds through the first episodes, but having completed watching it, I’m not sure what it was building to. I mean, I get the plot and the resolution, but to what end?

No Place Like Home

An experimental facility is set up, purportedly to help servicemen returning from combat zones adjust to life stateside. Julia plays Heidi Bergman, a barely qualified counsellor who reports to a profit driven corporation on a government contract.

As nefarious events proceed, motivations are revealed. The story is told primarily in flashback. A low-level government inspector is looking into a four-year old complaint against the Homecoming Center. By this time Heidi is waitress back in her hometown, with barely any recollection of her time at the center.

At first you think she’s just trying to obstruct the investigation. But as we move through the show we find out Heidi’s genuinely in the dark. And it’s shocking when we see how she brought it on herself.

There are two homecomings in the show; the men coming back from war and Heidi’s move home, a choice she made but can’t remember.

Bring It Home

The intrigue builds. I like the characters. And Julia Roberts is, as usual, amazing. But the script is average. The cinematography tries to be haunting but isn’t compelling.  Essentially this is another show that lands a big star and expects her to carry the series with minimal help. Yes, Stephan James does well, but he feels more like a supporting character to Julia than a lead.

It’s a lot like Jack Ryan, another Prime show. That was fun, cerebral and action packed, but it left (or abandoned) characters midway through the series, leaving you unsatisfied at the end.

Playing Favorites

Homecoming is up against only one well-known show, The Americans, which could win as a ‘body of work’ reward. The rest of the nominees are relatively unknowns.

Julia is nominated along with favorite Elizabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Keri Russell (The Americans). Moss has been an awards darling in this role, and Russell could also get ‘body of work’ consideration.  So realistically, Roberts and the show could walk away with awards, even though this is far from the best fare on television.

(As for Stephan in the Drama Actor category? Well, it’s always an honor just to be nominated)

The Critics Cocktail Recommendation

A glass bottle of Möet. It’s gonna be on all the tables tonight


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