Remember when the biggest media story ever was the Tiger Woods sex scandal? I know, who can even remember back that far, right? It feels like weeks ago.
More recently, our (well, my) attention has been focused on NBC. Unlike the Tiger thing, I actually care about this one. I know I’m usually book gal, but truth be told, I can be just as passionate about television. I get invested in characters and plots the same way I would about those in a novel (hello, Lost anyone?) I’m also an avid follower of all things pop culture, oftentimes regardless of whether I even care (e.g. winners of American Idol and losers of Jersey Shore, despite never watching either show). So, I’ve been staying up until the A.M. fanatically changing the channel from one monologue to the next, seeing who can rip NBC apart in the most clever and biting way. As with most things, Letterman wins.
Now, NBC has always been my favorite network, which contributes to my particular interest in this saga. Growing up, we watched Days of our Lives, not All My Children. Tom Brokaw rather than Rather. Today instead of GMA. You get the picture. NBC also had the best shows, invented Must-See TV, and has that catchy little three-tone jingle.
But, things have taken a turn for NBC. Aside from this current debacle, they recently canceled Southland, which will no doubt gain even more critical acclaim and viewers now that it’s on cable, and has relied on The Office and 30 Rock to provide all of their comedy needs, even though both shows garner the same exact audience. (Where is NBC’s equivalent to Modern Family or Glee?) Perhaps they are trying to relive their glory days by returning Jay Leno to The Tonight Show, but what worked in the past clearly is not working for them anymore.
I agree with Conan that moving the time slot would be a disgrace to the historic show’s legacy, but mostly I just want to see it (and Conan) stay put because it’s the right thing to do. Conan put in his time while Jay Leno (who’s never been funny and has probably always been a dick) made The Tonight Show a bland, horribly unfunny mess. NBC rightfully broke up with Jay for someone younger and all-around better, but they got scared. Yes, Jay didn’t ignite the same passion he used to (well, did he ever?), but Conan is a fiery redhead who unleashed Triumph and the Masturbating Bear onto America… surely the over-50 crowd (that oh-so-coveted demographic) will be much more comfortable with Jay.
So much like the way Conan is getting dumped by NBC, I think it’s time for me to sever ties with the network. Despite our history, this is just not the same network I fell in love with. But, I do wonder why NBC won’t cut the cord with Leno. Does he secretly own the network? Does he have their children locked in the basement? None of it makes any sense.
While Conan is clearly being treated unfairly, he is still coming out the winner of this mess. Jay, through his actions, has most likely alienated the majority of any audience who’d follow him back to 11:30 and has made himself the most hated man in late night. I’d love to see Conan and Jimmy Kimmel (who is inexplicably on at midnight) work out an 11:30-1:30 deal on ABC. After all, there is no greater victory in a breakup than knowing you kept your cool under the pressure, moved on with some grace, and ended up with a better partner (and better network) than your ex.