In a very candid interview with The New York Times on Wednesday, Larry Wilmore said of his show’s sudden cancellation, “There weren’t any talks. It was just pretty much fait accompli.”
The Times reports that Viacom’s official reason for the show’s cancellation was a combination of “poor ratings and a lack of social media buzz.” While the former is an acceptable reason to cancel a television program, the latter feels like a piss-poor excuse.
Evidently, Wilmore feels the same way. In the interview, the late-night host was pretty forthcoming about the entire process, rightfully noting that while this entire situation really sucks, the decision was always out of his hands.
“I’m not going to grouse and complain when there’s nothing I can do about it. Once you’ve broken up with somebody, arguing with them is not going to bring them back. You may want to stop their Twitter account, or call them up late at night, but they made the decision to leave.”
It’s clear that the legacy of Jon Stewart and the massive behemoth of successor his tenure on The Daily Show has been both helpful and harmful to the other late night shows on Comedy Central. The Nightly Show had the benefit of airing immediately after the last six months of Stewart’s hosting duties, but got lost in the shuffle during the network’s promotional bonanza for Trevor Noah.
“When Jon first left, we were on the air for a little while and ‘The Daily Show’ wasn’t back yet and I don’t think anyone knew we were on. We were in, like, the wilderness. And, of course, when ‘The Daily Show’ premiered that’s where all the promotion was, and it felt like we were a little forgotten by that point. The audience was like: ‘Oh yeah, what was that thing again? Didn’t they do something last year?’ And we were trying to find our show during this period too, you know? A lot of the things that happened are a matter of timing, position and all those things. When I started the show I didn’t even know Jon was leaving, so who would have guessed that?”
Following in those footsteps is a tremendous task, but you’d think that a network would give Wilmore and The Daily Show’s new host, Trevor Noah, a fighting chance to prove their mettle.
Wilmore described a situation that sounds similar to the messy cancellation of Melissa Harris-Perry’s show in February. While The Nightly Show didn’t receive quite the same treatment as Harris-Perry’s did, the lack of communication from network higher-ups was present in both cases. In an appearance on BuzzFeed’s Another Round podcast after her departure, Harris-Perry noticed that her show was being phased out, with little to no communication to her about its future.
While the entire situation with Wilmore’s show ending is a bad look overall, another thing it shares in common with Harris-Perry’s abrupt end is that the timing was suspect. He said:
“I didn’t know there was a possibility that we’d only have four shows left. I’m always prepared for, well, your show may go away or whatever, but I thought we would at least have the chance to go through the election.”
You’d think that a network like Comedy Central would want to provide a breadth of opinions and perspectives of the very kind Wilmore and his staff consistently provided in a year when the next president of this country could be a bloviating moron with terrible hair and extremely dangerous ideas. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Read Wilmore’s full interview here.