Late Night: The Gateway to Equality is Compassion and The Road is Hilarious!

It’s Nothing Short of Fabulously Entertaining…

Director Nisha Ganatra and screenwriter comedian Mindy Kaling do strive to deliver a wider examination of how women are expected to function in the workplace that resonates in the hearts of many women including me (more on that later), but that aside, they’ve given us a really funny, albeit predictable, hour and forty-two minutes of entertainment!

What’s the 30 year veteran, the first female host of a late night talk show, The Queen of Late Night’s Tonight show – Katherine Newbury, played by Emma Thompson, supposed to do when she’s tired of serving up the typical mundane fare of one liners and superficial interviews that she and her white middle aged male competitors have come to rely on, with dialogue that’s written for her by an all white middle aged male staff she barely knows and who definitely don’t know much about her, despite many of them having been with her from the start?

Denis O’Hare

I’ll note here that the character seems to prefer being surrounded by men, being as she appears to suffer from Queen Bee Syndrome, though this woman treats anyone she considers a subordinate poorly regardless of gender, yet the two most important people in Newbury’s life are men and are also the only two friends she has on Earth – husband Walter, played by the always delightful John Lithgow and her tell-it-like-it-is office sidekick Brad, impeccably played by Denis O’Hare.

Newbury would rather book guests on her show like American historian and biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin, (yes, a real person who’s written real books – most recently Leadership in Turbulent Times) which she had more than a few times. Combined with Newbury’s refusal to compromise her standards by rejecting social media, memes, viral videos, etc., and her refusal to ‘shake things up” on the show as ordered by her boss Caroline Morton played by Amy Ryan, The Queen has been put on notice that her reign will end when the current season does because she’s no longer relevant to audiences.

Emma Thompson and Amy Rand

We come to learn that Newbury adds to her list of dislikes a young woman writer either when Mindy Kaling enters the picture as the Tonight show’s greatest fangirl Molly Patel, after Newbury orders Brad to quickly hire anyone to fit the inclusion & diversity regs. It turns out Molly’s only experience is telling jokes over the PA system at a chemical plant in Pennsylvania and hosting open mic nights after moving to the Big Apple a few months prior…

Questionable Experience…

Getting back to how women are “expected to function in the workplace,” NPR’s Linda Holmes reviewed the movie and commented, “…there’s a lot here, about alliances and debts owed, and about the regrettably transactional relationships between white bosses and anyone they hire and push forward as a defense against charges of bias. I’m not sure the film gets all of this right, but it’s an intriguing, enjoyable, well-cast effort.” To which I would include: It’s also about the ‘family man’ stereotype which writer Kaling posits continues to exist in the realm of same-sex marriage, with an ingrained belief that family men are more deserving of employment and promotion…

So, You Believe You’re Worthy…

Yeah, let’s talk about all that stuff, but first, why hasn’t anyone mentioned that the creators and lead actor all come from, and maintain upper and high socioeconomic status? That these three, Ganatra, Kaling, and Thompson may have encountered discrimination, but that their socioeconomic status has shielded them from what the typical low to middle level women have and continue to experience??? And how could these upper-class women even relate to the plight of economically low to mid level women in the workplace? Because…

It’s ACTING! It’s ENTERTAINMENT! I get their message and have been a champion the equality movement for over forty years. I’m happy that women continue to fight the good fight and that includes making films like this to keep the fires of awareness burning, but…

The bottom line is that I bought a ticket to be entertained and I WAS!

Until next time…

I’m Outta Here! ~ Zadie G

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