The Best Conan Postmortem

Like every other cynical 20-something, I admit to being temporarily enthralled by NBC’s late night wars. Michael Ian Black explains why Conan’s abrupt departure resonates with us:

I think the deeper reason people are so inflamed by this petty war is that Conan in his own way has come to represent the aggrieved, the injured, the wrongly terminated. I think there is a sense in this country that giant corporations are ruining everything, even late night talk shows. Something so insignificant takes on greater importance because I think on some level, “The Tonight Show” actually has become a very flawed stand-in for all the jobs lost to corporate greed, arrogance, and stupidity. We see Conan as a victim because we feel as though, like us, he wasn’t given a fair shot. If a guy like that, a guy who has everything, can be downsized and demoted, what hope do the rest of us have?

Moreover Leno is installed back in his abdicated throne. It feels like a coup, a particularly unfunny coup. And above him, all the top brass still have their jobs. Just like all the top brass in every other failed or bailed-out corporation. It feels unfair. And it makes people mad.

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6 thoughts on “The Best Conan Postmortem

  1. Get rid of Conan, Leno, Letterman…bring back Steve Allen reruns, none of ’em are as funny as that dude was…….smock! smock!


  2. Meh. I don’t think any postmortem can get any traction if it doesn’t rest primarily on the generational difference. Leno’s audience is older, disengaged people who find Conan over the top and offensive. Conan’s audience is younger people who find Leno derivative and boring as %#!@. Most of the blog commentariat and the active and energetic commentators on the topic are younger, engaged people, so it’ll skew Conan. Leno probably has a ton of supporters who don’t even know what a blog is, but watch enough TV to control the ratings.

    People in my social milieux resent the move, not because it relates in any way to the economy or job security, but because it feels like a victory for entitlement and fear over brilliance and optimism.


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