I almost wrote this article last year. It was right before the annual Emmys award ceremony, and I could not believe some of those snubs. But this year, one Emmy-nomination snub burns brighter than the rest because it is frankly ridiculous. How in the world did Showtime’s “Desus and Mero” not get nominated in the Variety Talk Series category?
Inexplicably, “Desus and Mero” has once again been cast away from a more-than-earned nomination for its late-night talk show. Even more baffling, Jimmy Kimmel somehow got a nod.
I understand the “Conan” nomination — Conan O’Brien has been a staple for more than two decades, and the show deserves a proper acknowledgement for its contributions. “Last Week With John Oliver” is just a given at this point. And maybe this is unfair, but “The Daily Show with Noah Trevor” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” can battle it out for the middle ground. In fact, throw in “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” in the Daily/Late Show throwdown.
The standard late-night show delivery was uprooted and completely turned on its head this year. No more guests in front of the desk, no more elaborate game set-ups, and no more leaning on laughing and clapping from the audience like a crutch.
I think that this year might have been necessary for the late-night world. There needed to be some change — something to remind audiences of the difference between Kimmel and Fallon. Something to break between the comedic news segments that have umbrellaed out of Jon Stewart’s reign. A couple shows met the challenge, and some shows struggled to keep afloat. A cozy, intricately designed set doesn’t save your show.
“Desus and Mero” didn’t just rise to the challenge — “Desus and Mero” found its groove and lived up to its slogan, “the number one late show on television.”
“Desus and Mero” just got better and better during the pandemic, showing that the two hosts, Desus Nice and Mero the Kid, don’t need an audience or even a guest to deliver a good show. The chemistry between the two is a refined and polished package Their pre-show warm ups with producer and “Wild N’Out” vet Julia Young are a treat. But there are guests, and with the chemistry between Desus and Mero already delivering a tight 30 minutes of entertainment, it almost feels unfair that the two are also amazing at interviews.
Before the pandemic, “Desus and Mero ” had been delivering honest, interesting, and zesty interviews. Desus and Mero have demonstrated a knack for owning any setting they are thrown into and making the interview fit into their own style. They took Anna Kendrick on a day trip to the Bronx that included an afternoon visit to a strip club, did an escape room with Elizabeth Warren, kicked it with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, yucked it up with David Letterman, and got into it about the Knicks with Spike Lee.
During their run in quarantine, Desus and Mero showed that they didn’t need their live audience, their cool basement studio, or an activity to interact with their hosts. Their Zoom interviews last year were killer, with smart questions, commentary, and genuine care for their guests. Now, they’re back in the studio showcasing their growth during the pandemic. Showtime picked the right show to bet on because “Desus and Mero” is the next big thing — even if the Emmys won’t acknowledge it yet.
The Emmys are supposed to spotlight amazing performances and work in television, and in a category where there is not much variety between the shows, it feels important to recognize and reward when someone is breaking ground. I think we all know what to expect from John Oliver, Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert, Sam Bee, Jimmy Kimallon, and friends. The last big shake-up in the topical late-night show desk world was when Jay Leno snaked his way back into Late Night.
Shows that are delivering like “Desus and Mero” and “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” are snubbed. “The Amber Ruffin Show” is quickly gaining ground in the late night world with sharp segments and host Amber Ruffin’s charisma. In a year where it should have been an easy choice to name the top dog in the late night games, the Emmys made it more obscure — or perhaps even clearer — what they are looking for.