A A cultural phenomenon that grew out of social media into a late night institution is suddenly no more. late night institution is suddenly no more.
The world of late night talk shows doesn’t tend to be very diverse.
The topical monologue + celebrity interviews and maybe a performance formula derives from radio variety hours, and was largely popularized in the 1950s and by programs such as “ Tonight Starring Jack Paar,” “Tonight Starring Steve Allen” and especially “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”
Television historians generally believe that the very first talk show was “ The Faye Emerson Show,” which debuted on CBS in 1949. That the general public is largely unaware that the first talk show was hosted by a woman is a sign of the cultural tendency to erase and downplay the achievements of women, and the extent to which we tend to think of late night talk show hosts as white men by default.
The major network late night on CBS (VIAB) – Get Viacom Inc. Class B Report, NBC (CMCSA) – Get Comcast Corporation Class A Common Stock Report and ABC shows have always been hosted by white men, while women such as Joan Collins and Rosie O’Donnell tended to dominate in syndicated afternoon talk shows.
(Fox (DIS) – Get The Walt Disney Company Report has always had a sporadic history with the format, finding short lived success with “The Late Show,” which was hosted by Arsenio Hall and Joan Rivers during the channel’s early days, while the “The Chevy Chase Show” was such an infamous bomb that it seemingly scared the network away from ever trying again, apart from “The Wanda Sykes Show,” which ran for one year in 2009, aired on Saturday nights and was largely seen as mishandled by the network.)
In addition to “The Arsenio Hall Show,” cable outlets have been more willing to let people of color host late night talk shows. But even then, it can be hard for these programs to find a cultural foothold, as even acclaimed outings like FX’s “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell” were canceled within two years.
But as society has begun to make baby steps towards greater representation and the inclusion of marginalized viewpoints, and as the importance of traditional networks (and arguably the very idea of a TV channel) has faded, the idea of who gets to be a late night talk show host has changed, as evidenced by the success of “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” as well as Showtime’s breakout hit “‘Desus & Mero.”
Hosted by the comedians Desus Nice and The Kid Mero, the Showtime series debuted in 2019, to rave reviews and consistent social media buzz. But in a shocking development, the two comedians have dissolved their partnership and ended their show.
What Happened With ‘Desus & Mero’?
In many ways, the story of Desus and Mero was one of the most archetypal social media success stories of the new age.
Daniel Baker, aka Desus Nice, and Joel Armogasto Martinez, aka The Kid Mero proved that joking around on Twitter wasn’t just a way to kill time. It could be a career path. The two were what is now known as power tweeters, and met on the social media site, eventually developing enough of a fanbase and social media presence to join the case of MTV’s “Guy Code,” before launching a podcast and web series with Complex Networks and a web series with Viceland.
The Viceland series was moved to Showtime in 2019, and for their first episode the pair interviewed Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They’ve since interviewed everyone from Stacey Abrams to Wu-Tang Clan to Dave Grohl to Dr. Anthony Fauci and even President Barack Obama.
Along the way, they popularized the phrase “the brand is strong” and did everything in their power to bring respect and reverence to the cultural institution that is the bodega.
They also earned rave reviews, regularly saw their clips go viral on YouTube and Twitter (a clip of Ben Stiller admitting that he discuss the poor performance of the New York Knicks with his therapist was particularly popular) and were nominated for a plethora of awards, and won the 2021 Writers Guild of America Awards for bet Comedy/Variety Talk Series.
The series gave black and Latino people a much needed, and very irreverent, voice on late night TV, and was shaping up to be Showtime’s answer to “Late Night With John Oliver” and “Real Time with Bill Maher,” a long-running institution that became synonymous with the network’s identity. It was a growing cultural force and a valuable asset for Showtime’s owner ViacomCBS.
But it seems that there has been a falling out between Desus & Mero. As noted by The Hollywood Reporter, Mero wrote in a recent Reddit post, “PODCAST DONE ENJOY THE BACK CATALOG MY PALS” and Desus “replied on Twitter, ‘I tried y’all.’
Desus and Showtime have since confirmed the split, with Showtime saying in a statement: “Desus Nice and The Kid Mero will be pursuing separate creative endeavors moving forward,” Showtime said in a statement. “Showtime’s late-night talk show Desus & Mero will not be returning for a fifth season. Its final episode aired Thursday, June 23.”
Twitter Reacts To ‘Desus & Mero’s Split.”
Twitter gave birth to the Desus & Mero brand, and now Twitter is in mourning.