Where are the women late-night hosts?

By Sarah F. Griffin

Will television networks ever let women host late-night shows?

On Jan. 24, Showtime and MTV Entertainment Studios announced that Jon Stewart would return to host the Comedy Central classic, “The Daily Show.”

Stewart, who had previously been the longtime host of the show from 1999 to 2015, returned as part-time host on Feb. 12 to much anticipation of how he would cover the upcoming presidential election.

While I’m a huge fan of Stewart and enjoyed his Apple TV show “The Problem with Jon Stewart,” which ran from 2021 to 2023, I have to wonder: why did Comedy Central take the easy route and hire a familiar man, rather than taking a risk and asking a woman to host?

Think about it for a second: all of the most famous late-night talk shows have been hosted by men: Letterman, Lenno, Conan, Colbert, Maher, Stewart, Kimmel, Fallon, Oliver, Corden, Noah and now Stewart again.

Now, I admit: over the years, I have tuned into all of these shows and found most of the aforementioned hosts to be entertaining. Maher has never been my cup of tea, and I lost interest with Corden after the allegations of a hostile work environment came out; however, I am disappointed that a woman had never been given the opportunity to host a late-night talk show on a major network until the late 2010s. “The Daily Show” alum Samantha Bee hosted “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” on TBS from 2016 to 2022, Lilly Singh hosted “A Little Late with Lilly Singh” on NBC from 2019 to 2021 and Amber Ruffin, a writer on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” has hosted “The Amber Ruffin Show” since 2020 on Peacock. 

These three shows were super funny to me, but they pale in comparison to their male-hosted counterparts in terms of publicity, advertising, longevity and critical attention. 

Even the new “After Midnight with Taylor Tomlinson” on CBS, produced by late-night legend Stephen Colbert and his production company, keeps women on the outskirts in terms of late-night political commentary. The new show, which aired its first episode in January, is more like a game show than a late-night talk show.

Like it or not, late-night shows contribute a lot to the political discourse in this country. I believe that our voices should be heard more on late-night television. That means having more than two women late-night hosts on television at a time!

Women have so much value in terms of our unique perspectives on politics, and there is no reason to think that more women can’t host late-night shows that talk about politics.

Networks and audiences just have to be willing to let them. 

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