Let’s end the unbearable maleness of political TV news shows.
Photo by Flickr user Cliff.
Jon Stewart only announced his departure from The Daily Show yesterday, but we’re already on final stage of the Kübler-Ross model of grief: acceptance. Stewart had already signaled his restlessness when he took a long sabbatical from the show to direct his first feature film, so he’s only confirming what we already know: the man is ready for the next stage in his career. America is also ready: ready for a new person to take the chair and assume the position as the country’s moral (but not preachy) consciousness. And America is ready for that person to be a lady.
A recent report by Media Matters found that white men dominate the Sunday morning political talk shows, not only as hosts but also as guests. Although women’s issues are some of the most contentious political issues of our time—unnecessarily so—it’s men who are dictating the political discourse and some of these men have only a grade school-level understanding of how a uterus functions. The Daily Show is fertile ground for plotting a revolution in TV news representation. It’s where most young’uns get their news these days anyway, along with Saturday Night Live. The old guard of white male TV news hosts is no longer relevant to this crowd, especially since that old guard reveals itself, over and over again, to be populated by dirty liars.
It’s not just that there’s a need for new blood: there’s ample supply of badass, politically conscious, and funny women who are ready, and worthy, to take Stewart’s spot. This list is by no means comprehensive, but here are a couple women we nominate for the position.
Screencap from The Daily Show episode.
When you’ve got talent like The Daily Show has talent, it only makes sense to hire from within. As the show’s “Senior Women Correspondent,” Williams has capably demonstrated sharp humor as well as political adeptness. Imagine what the woman could do with a bigger platform.
Leslie Jones is frequently the funniest person on Saturday Night Live. The universe answered a prayer we didn’t even know we were making when Hollywood cast Jones alongside Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig and Kate McKinnon in the all-female remake of Ghostbusters. But the film, and her Weekend Update appearances, in which she more often than not upstages her colleague Colin Jost, are not enough to satiate our appetite.
Screencap from Wong's Fusion TV appearance.
Kristina Wong regularly contributes to Jezebel, PlayGirl and XOJanes, but she’s as funny—and as astute—in person as she in on paper. One of her most popular pieces, on men with Asian fetishes, bought her an appearance on Totally Biased with Kamau Bell, revealing to the world how charming and clever she can be on the spot. But as often as her work is rip-roaringly hilarious, it can also be very serious. One of her most well-known projects, A Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, explored mental illness among Asian-American women. Bitch Magazine called it “politically charged art with unapologetic humor,” which is exactly what The Daily Show needs.
Another Daily Show regular, Schaal’s appearances never fail to draw the biggest audience laughs. Using her distinctive voice, Schaal has helmed a character capable of making nuanced political observations while also exposing the absurdity of politics. Her performances are as informative as they are captivating.
Photo by Flickr user Benjamin Ragheb.
Sasheer Zamata is still a newbie on Saturday Night Live but she’s been there long enough to exhibit the kind of comedic range that keep her performances fresh and reliably hilarious. She snagged that job by charming Lorne Michaels with her spot-on impersonations of Michelle Obama, Rihanna, and Tyra Banks, but Zamata’s got more going for her than just comedica impressions.
Did Cameron Esposito tell the greatest period joke ever told? There are few worthy contenders. But Esposito is pretty funny on subjects other than the bodily functions of female-bodied people. She hosts a popular podcast called Grab Them Aghast that already demonstrates her skills hosting a show. While she doesn’t have the name recognition of many women on this list, she has the kind of shrewd humor that makes Jon Stewart so effective in the seat.