It’s not about the ratings. It’s not about the executives. It’s not even about who’s funnier. No one involved in the Tonight Show “Succession War” is getting screwed. Conan will be paid many millions of dollars to do nothing for the next little while. If that’s the definition of getting screwed, then we’d all bend over.
This is about the generation gap. It’s a lot like the one in the 1960’s that we never heard the end of, only this time the older generation is more vocal and demographically larger than the one coming up. Think about it. The chaplains of Team Coco are almost universally post-1960 babies. A lot of those babies are also waiting for someone to retire so they can move forward in their careers. How do I know this? I got into computers, the “career of the future”, only to find that I have to wait for the mainframe generation to retire first. Only they won’t retire, because they have adult children to support, who can’t get better jobs because they’re waiting for someone to retire.
I fear not for Conan and his late night crew. The man behind Triumph the Insult Comic Dog will not be kept out of the limelight for long. However, this situation is a hard lesson for those of us trying to get established today. Jockeying for positions in institutions like the Tonight Show is not the key to job security we were led to believe. The only future we can rely on is one that we own, not the one that we inherit.