Late Night So White: With James Corden leaving, it's time late shows get a dose of diversity

Corden's announcement has led many on social media to call for more diversity and inclusion in the late-night genre


                            Late Night So White: With James Corden leaving, it's time late shows get a dose of diversity
(L-R) Late-night talk show hosts James Corden, Jimmy Kimmel, and Stephen Colbert (Kevin Winter, Matt Winkelmeyer & Joey Peeps/Getty Images)
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As British comedian turned late-night TV host James Corden announced Thursday, April 28, that he would leave his nightly CBS show next year, many feel it's time to break the hegemony of White males dominating the late-night space.

Corden, who hosted “The Late Late Show” since 2015, has been hinting for some time that he was considering leaving the show. The 43-year-old performer told Variety in 2021 that his late-night pedestal wasn't "a final destination." Furthermore, he had told The Sun in a previous interview that his family was "homesick." While his original contract was set to expire in August, Corden signed an extension to keep him on CBS through next spring. 

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“This will be my last year hosting the show,” Corden said. “When I started this journey, it was always going to be just that. It was going to be a journey, an adventure. I never saw it as my final destination, you know? And I never want this show to overstay its welcome in any way. I always want to love making it. And I really think in a year from now that will be a good time to move on and see what else might be out there… this has been the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, it really has. I’ve never taken this job for granted.”

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James Corden speaks during the 2019 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 9, 2019, in New York City Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

 

It's worth noting that Corden's imminent departure marks a milestone for the late-night comedy lineup since 2014 and 2015, when the previous generation of talk show hosts like David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Jon Stewart left their shows to make room for Corden, Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah, and HBO’s John Oliver. However, the Brit's departure also comes amid a little belt-tightening in the late-night format, which isn't pulling the live linear audiences it once did. There are questions about the long-term viability of the genre, considering viewing habits have drastically changed and ratings for the shows have taken a nose-dive. Many viewers choose to watch segments online the morning after they air on TV.  

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John Oliver poses in the press room during the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards at L.A. LIVE on September 19, 2021, in Los Angeles, California (Rich Fury/Getty Images)

 

However, the slump could also be a sign that the audiences are yearning for some diversity. The demographics of America have rapidly changed in recent years. According to the Brookings Institute, more than 40 per cent of the country is non-white or Hispanic. Meanwhile, women have taken over powerful roles in the workforce and are more likely to earn college degrees than men. Nonetheless, watching network TV after 11 pm could still take one back to the 1950s. There have also been multiple reports over the years that the lack of diversity extends into the late-night writers' rooms as well, with the majority of staff being overwhelmingly White and male.

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That said, CBS still has a year to find a replacement for Corden, and there are already a number of potential non-White contenders for the spot in-house. These include Trevor Noah at sister cable outlet Comedy Central’s 'Daily Show' as well as the duo Desus Nice & The Kid Mero, who recently hosted the fourth season of their program on Showtime, as reported by Variety.

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(L-R) Desus Nice and The Kid Mero attend the 2021 ESPY Awards at Rooftop At Pier 17 on July 10, 2021, in New York City (Getty Images)

 

Corden's announcement has led many users on social media to call for more diversity and inclusion in the late-night genre. "Hey since James Corden is leaving the Late Late Show, let’s have a female or POC comedian host a late night on a major network? I’m tired of only seeing white men running prime time late-night television," one user tweeted.

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"If he’s replaced by a straight white man, I hereby pledge to eat both of my own buttocks, sautéed in butter, in front of witnesses," another quipped.

"Just want to remind @CBS that they absolutely DO NOT HAVE TO hire another white man to replace James Corden as host of the Late Late Show. There are a wealth of options available that could shake up late night in fun, refreshing ways. Like can you pull Amber Ruffin away from NBC?" another user added.

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