Samantha Bee, we hardly knew you. Desus & Mero channeled the legendary Martin and Lewis split.
And, right on schedule, the mainstream media is clutching its pearls at late night TV’s lack of diversity.
Too many straight white males getting all the eyeballs (and absurdly large paychecks).
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) March 9, 2022
What’s missing? Ideological diversity.
It’s the kind of diversity that rarely, if ever, gets mentioned in the current Culture Wars. Geena Davis doesn’t name check it during her extensive work on equity and inclusion. Media outlets ignore late-night TV’s extreme liberal bias, too.
So losing two late-night shows sparked a flood of news stories bemoaning a cultural step backward.
A more honest take?
Bee’s “Full Frontal” ratings were catastrophically bad, and the show deserved the heave-ho. And Showtime’s “Desus & Mero” got crushed by the inevitable “creative differences” or ego overload, depending what you believe.
The late-night landscape mostly remains the same, but media outlets can’t say the truth out loud.
Here it is.
They fret losing any platform, large or minuscule, to promote its preferred progressive narratives.
The Hollywood Reporter led the pack, worrying that losing two prominent shows would mean a less diverse late night lineup.
Critic’s Notebook: Is Late Night on the Verge of a Diversity Downgrade?
To media reporters, “diversity” means everything from liberal voices to hard Left voices.
The essay all but ignores the role ratings play in the conversation. Bee’s show got the ax for nebulous reasons, according to one of the premier Hollywood news outlets.
THR does mention Fox News’ “Gutfeld!” in passing and in the most inconsequential way possible.
And just for fun, let’s acknowledge that diversity can be ideological as well as related to race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Just because I think Fox News’ Gutfeld! is glib and hacky doesn’t mean that it’s not serving an audience that clearly felt underserved.
It’s “fun” to diminish the one show that challenges Stephen Colbert for the ratings throne week in, week out, with a fraction of the “Late Show’s” resources.
That’s all the ideological diversity the author can muster.
Bless the author’s heart.
The scribe’s unwillingness to talk ratings, and show business, is never more obvious than in this telling paragraph.
Trevor Noah is probably too big a name to go from 11:30 to 12:30, even if CBS would represent a far larger potential platform than his current home on Comedy Central. We’ll never know how many people actually watch Ruffin on Peacock, but if the number is even “some,” the NBCUniversal brass would be idiotic not to do anything in their power to keep her around.
Noah’s show routinely rubbed shoulders with “Full Frontal” in the late-night basement. And Peacock should keep Ruffin around no matter how large an audience she draws?
Yet another NPR piece either pretends Bee drew a crowd or ignores her ratings folly.
My fingers are crossed that Bee, an Emmy award-winning host, lands well. But it’s also important for the industry to recognize and preserve opportunities for the next generation of late night TV talent likely to expand the genre through reinvention and inclusiveness.
Who would want Bee after her angry, laugh-free reign at TBS drew such a small crowd? And how inclusive is a TV lineup that ignores half the country? (Good thing you and I are helping pay NPR salaries)
Even before Bee and Desus & Mero left the arena NPR demanded the person taking over for James Corden on “The Late Late Show” be a person of color.
Here’s guessing Terrence K. Williams, a black conservative comic, didn’t make the outlet’s short list of replacements. Wrong ideology.
How corrupt is the media when it comes to late-night TV? The LA Times called Bee’s attempt to gin up a mob against Supreme Court justices an “impassioned call to arms.”
Meanwhile, The Ringer all but demands “systemic change” in late-night television.
To the extent that late night’s paradigm had started to shift, the fate of Full Frontal and Desus & Mero shows how fragile that incremental progress truly is. Just a couple of cancellations are enough to bring late night back within spitting distance of its former status quo. And, however impressive one show’s accomplishments, recent events are a case study in how individual achievements are no substitute for systemic change.
This must be said early and often.
These same voices haven’t said a word, not a syllable, about the dearth of right-leaning voices prior to “Gutfeld!” It’s how you know their diversity mantras are laughable.
It’s all about political power, not inclusion.
The most embarrassing media example? Deadline.com’s extensive report on the changing face of late-night television.
The article ticks off all the key and minor players in the space … except the one show at or near the top of the ratings heap.
All together now, “Gutfeld!” starring Fox News superstar Greg Gutfeld.
Also not mentioned? Late night TV’s relentless liberal slant.
The mainstream media walks in lockstep with the Democratic Party, ignoring those who don’t pledge allegiance to the progressive flag.
Their late-night coverage is just more proof of that sad reality.