A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the later a late-night show airs, the racier it gets, and generally the younger the target audience. That’s not to say this one is aimed at kids, because it’s not ... but plenty of teens are watching, either during broadcast or when clips are posted online (more than many other late-night hosts, Fallon has embraced the Web). Expect plenty of jokes and anecdotes centered on sex, drugs, and liquor -- topics that will certainly appeal to college students, twenty-somethings, and, yes, high schoolers as well. Note: Most teens who watch late-night shows like this check them out on a "time-shift" basis via DVR or the aforementioned online clips, rather than at the original 11:30 p.m.-or-later air time -- which is better for their sleep habits!
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What's the story?
There are lots of hosts swimming in the sea of late-night talk show. Jimmy Fallon swims along competently, but he doesn’t always set himself apart from the school. His show, LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON, follows the standard formula: a nightly monologue, a few wacky skits, and then some celebrity interviews. He succeeded Conan O’Brien as Late Night host in March 2009 when O’Brien took over The Tonight Show.
Is it any good?
Late Night has always skewed younger, audience-wise, than the more traditional Tonight Show. O’Brien’s predecessor, David Letterman, created the modern format for the late-night talk show -- blending subversive humor, cynicism, and off-color jokes about politics and sex. The result is more for left-leaning college kids than the mainstream, middle-aged audience.
O’Brien adhered to the same pattern, and Fallon is following in his footsteps, though he’s tried to inject even more youth culture, notably by bringing in popular hip-hop group The Roots as his house band. Fallon is an affable host, charming and often witty, but he doesn’t always seem as quick on his feet as Letterman or O’Brien, and, as a newcomer to the gig, he occasionally seems a bit starstruck. But those issues could be related to his relative inexperience as a host -- before landing the job he was best known for his stint on Saturday Night Live -- and he does seem to be growing into the job.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the topics that Fallon discusses during his monologues and with his guests. Do you think his talking points come up spontaneously, or are they mostly scripted? Is there an agenda behind his guests’ visits, such as promoting a movie or TV show?
How do you think late-night shows decide which guests should appear? Can you detect any kind of hierarchy in which hosts can land the biggest names? Do you see any patterns in when people appear?
How do late-night talk shows influcence other areas of the media?