I have a question about late-night TV hosts. Before I go any further, I want to acknowledge that there is systemic sexism and racism in the entertainment industry. I don’t like it, and I hope it changes.
This post isn’t about that. At least, I’d like to make an assumption for the sake of discussion. If you buy into this assumption–even just for the discussion–feel free to keep reading.
The assumption is that at least one network–hopefully more than one–isn’t sexist at the upper levels and would be willing to hire a female or non-white late-night host if they thought the host would make a great, popular, profitable show.
Okay, we’ve got that out of the way. Here’s the point of all this:
Currently and historically, all late-night TV hosts on network television have been white men. Right now we have Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, James Corden, Seth Myers, Stephen Colbert, and Conan O’Brien.
I greatly enjoy these hosts. They do a great job, supported by a diverse array of writers, producers, musicians, etc.
However, I just find it really curious that there are no women or minorities among the late-night hosts. Like, watch this clip of Kristen Bell guest hosting for Jimmy Kimmel and tell me that she wouldn’t make a fantastic late-night host:
She’s awesome! I would absolutely watch Late Night with Kristen Bell.
Similarly, even though it’s not a major network, Comedy Central made a fantastic pick with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show.
So I don’t think this is an issue of quality or desirability. Audiences just want to be entertained, networks just want to make money, and advertisers just want to be a part of popular shows.
Why, then, are there no female or minority late-night hosts? Have they been offered the job and turned it down? Is it simply a matter of current or historical sexism/racism? Or is there something else going on here?