Monday, June 17, 2019

Late Night (2019)

Katherine Newbury is not an easy person to work for.  When someone asks her for a raise, she fires him.  His main reason for asking is the birth of a child, who will contribute nothing to the show.  Also, most of her writing staff has never met her.  Many haven’t even seen the stage where she hosts her late-night talk show.

She’s pressured to add diversity to the writer’s room because all of her writers are white and male.  As luck would have it, Molly Patel is looking to become a writer for the show and happens to show up moments after an opening becomes available.  Yes, Molly does have comedic talent, but she’s coming from a chemical plant where she worked in quality control.

It’s a rough ride at first, but Molly starts to find her place.  She even gets a joke in the monologue after convincing Newbury to be more daring.   Success doesn’t last long for Molly.  She has to put up with seven men who aren’t happy to see her there.  Her boss doesn’t really much like her, either.  (Molly finds herself fired twice during the course of the movie.)

She’s also constantly reminded of the fact that she’s a diversity hire.  (The workplace is so dominated by men that they’ve taken to using the ladies’ room, as there are no women there.)  She’s faced with a choice, though.  She can concentrate on the ‘diversity’ aspect of her employment or she can focus on the ‘hire’ part of her employment.  She has the job she wanted.  Does it matter how?

Newbury also has some facts to face.  She’s trying to hold on to a show she’s been hosting for nearly 30 years.  She’s not willing to admit that she’s stuck in a rut.  Just because it was successful before doesn’t mean that it will connect with today’s audiences.  She’s not getting any tweets or followers on social media.  What she is getting is replaced and by a comedian who’s very crude.

The movie comes across as a showcase of problems in the motion-picture industry.  Male privilege, age discrimination and Tokenism are addressed.  None of it seems forced, though.  It’s more a way of using the movie as a way to introduce various talking points while not being too pointed about it.  (Molly finds herself crying in the ladies’ room until she’s kicked out by a man who needs use it.)

So, Newbury and Molly need each other.  They both have similar stories.  Each is trying to make it among a crowd of men.  Each has issues they have to face because of that.  Ultimately, each will succeed or fail on their own terms.

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