Thursday, November 4, 2010

Late Night Talk Shows

Data was gathered over a six week period that looked at the demographic of guests on late night talk shows. The shows examined are: The Tonight Show, The Late Show, The Late Late Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night, The Daily Show, Chelsea Lately, and Lopez Tonight. The resulting numbers from each demographic featured on late-night TV were then compared to the 2008 census information.

The data would imply that women aren’t incapable of being funny. As all of the Late Night Talk Shows are comedic, the absence of women as guests (and hosts, might I add) would indicate TV Networks believe women can’t make a funny. Women dominate daytime talk shows, and with Ellen leading the daytime primetime with a comedic show, what is implied? That women are only funny before the 5:00 news? Women are funny only to other women?

No show was on par with the 2008 census information, or even came close. Some shows receive failing grades: The Late Late Show, Lopez Tonight, and the most surprising: The Daily Show. The Daily Show was under fire earlier in the year when wrote an open letter to the show, accusing the show of institutionalized sexism and not having many female writers. The female workers of The Daily Show responded.

The only race that was above 2008 Census information was white people. Surprise! White people –as both hosts and guests—are overrepresented! George Lopez’s show is the only show to have fewer white guests than the census data expectation. Chelsea Handler and Lopez Tonight get passing grades for having more black guests than the census prediction. All other races on all other shows were under the expectation of the census.

However, the data is not perfect, as the data only reflects a six week period. It’s especially flawed in regards to shows that only have one guest a night, such as The Daily Show. The data might be slightly different if it was gathered during a different six week period. This graph is only meant to give people an idea of representation in late night tv.

It gives me pause that shows are still favoring white men, over any other demographic. This is just one more example of subtle, institutionalized sexism and racism that is generally accepted, especially by the untrained eye. I would be interested to see if any data comes out about a larger period, as more data would reflect more accurately. It might also be interesting to see similar types of data from 10 years ago, to see if there has been any substantial progress made. That might give me hope to think of what data might look like in the next 10 years, as far as representation in the media.

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