Lilly Singh’s late show is a triumph! She’s knocking down all doors and breaking all the glass ceilings!
Bestselling author and YouTube star, Lilly Singh, first episode of A Little Late with Lilly Singh took the world by storm on September 16. Lilly started her late-night NBC show by rapping about how her show will be unlike other late-night shows. Since her melanin differs from most late-night show hosts, Lilly wants her show to reflect her individuality. Instead of the usual grey and navy blue suits that her male counterparts wear, Lilly will wear colorful outfits. She’ll add the much needed female perspective to late-night television. Lilly won’t be stereotyped nor molded into someone she’s not – Lilly will continue to channel her online persona: Superwoman. Lilly’s work environment reflected what people want to see in their place of employment today. For example, more than 50% of Lilly’s writers are women and people of color. As stated in her rap, Lilly hired minorities because she could, not because she had to. She promised that men will also have paternal leave like women had maternal leave. She promised a place where working parents can nurse their children. And, she promised equal pay for all her employees. Lilly made it clear to the world that she will be the change that she wants to see in this world.
Furthermore, Lilly won’t make every monologue about Donald Trump. Yes, she’s politically aware but why should she make every show about politics? (Why does she have to be like Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, and Seth Myers? That wouldn’t make her show different.) A Little Late with Lilly Singh will focus on other social issues and popular culture trends, which she did beautifully on her YouTube Channel. Lilly has always done a fantastic job of analyzing social norms and finding the humor in them. With this new platform, Lilly can expand on those norms and create some great content. (Let us not forget her How to Make a Sandwich video.)
After rapping about her unique style and set up of her show, Lilly paid tribute to all the women who came before her. Lilly acknowledged that having her own late-night show would not possible without these women. Lilly then addressed the “white discomfort” her viewers may have when watching her host. When addressing white discomfort, privilege or fragility, people of color are accused of being racist to white people. Addressing white privilege is viewed as an attack on white people rather than a critique of the institutionalized racism that has existed for centuries. When the race talk becomes personal for white people, their privilege shield activates which ends any discussion of race. Lilly, however, decides to break down that shield in her unique style. For example, in her monologue, Lilly simply stated that all minorities are here to take white people’s jobs. That was Lilly’s way of saying, “get over it, the job market is competitive so let everyone compete for the jobs they want.” (A lot of minorities want jobs that are held mainly by white heterosexual men like being a late-night host. There is nothing wrong about that and no one should feel threatened when minorities want that.) But, Lilly is not simply making a show for Indian women. She’s making a show that everyone will enjoy. Throughout her monologue, Lilly made it clear that she’s here to stay and look glamorous while doing it.
Her first guest was the writer and actor Mindy Kaling, best known for her work on The Office and Late Night. Lilly lovingly referred to Mindy as didi, which means big sister in multiple Indian languages. (Just to clarify: Lilly Singh and Mindy Kaling are not related. Lilly calls Mindy “didi” as a sign of respect. Not all brown people are related.) The interviewed started with Mindy asking, “has NBC ever had this many Indian women on at this time?” Both of them addressed Indian girl power and solidarity, but also showed their personalities. During the interview, Mindy showed her excitement for her daughter to watch Lilly’s show. Even though Mindy loves comedy, she felt that comedy never loved her back. Mindy said she grew up with no one that looked like her in comedy. This did not discourage Mindy from pursing a career in comedy, but it add to her struggle. However, A Little Late With Lilly Singh will give Mindy’s daughter a comedy idol that Mindy herself never had. Lilly, along with Mindy, is now a comedy idol for so many people. Although Mindy acknowledges that she’s paved the way for many Indian women in show business, she refuses to be the example of all Indian women. She does not want all Indian women to be exactly like her or be held up to the same standards. Instead, Mindy encourages their individuality.
Often, people of color have to give up their individuality to represent their race properly. Not all Indian women like the same food, dress the same way or even laugh at the same jokes. Mindy acknowledges that she’s paved the way for many that look like her, but is in no way the symbol of all Indian women. She encourages individuality and dismisses the idea that she’s a symbol of a movement. Mindy does not want to be the only Indian woman comedy nor want every Indian woman in comedy to be like her. Lilly exhibits similar qualities. Lilly also acknowledges the path she’s paved for many Indian women, but she does not compromise her individuality. As stated in her opening rap, she intends to embrace her differences to create a great show for everyone.
Before the start of her show, the media frequently referred to Lilly’s gender, race, and sexuality. Lilly jokingly said in her monologue that the show should be renamed: A little late with a bisexual woman of color. But, Lilly is more than that title. She is a smart, funny, and intelligent woman with a strong presence. Lilly’s show intends to be the change she wishes to see in the world. A Little Late with Lilly Singh is here to stay. (I cannot wait for more episodes.)
Click here to check out Lilly Singh’s book, How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life.
Don’t forget to watch A Little Late with Lilly Singh on NBC!