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New late-night show 'After Midnight' has potential but needs significant change

Cable television got yet another late-night show to replace The Late Late Show following James Corden’s departure. This time CBS attempted to shake up the format by hiring the 30-year-old comedian Taylor Tomlinson to host the show. She is easily the best part of the show.


It’s no secret that cable TV is seeing a decline in viewship. With the average age of a cable television viewer increasing, this new late-night show feels like an attempt to keep CBS relevant among young audiences. The new show, After Midnight, was outfitted with a slew of social media accounts and a YouTube channel. It’s also available to stream on Paramount+ to satisfy the on-demand craving of younger consumer audiences.


Despite CBS’ attempt to court younger viewers, the show feels weighed down with too much structure for a comedy show. Contrary to what many people were expecting this show to be After Midnight is a gameshow featuring a panel of three (usually) comedians. The comedians are put on the spot to come up with the best joke they can to suit the prompt created by the show's writing team. The games are filled with Gen Z slang and largely play off/reference popular content from social media. If Tomlinson likes their answer (she will) said panelist is awarded points. Whichever panelist accumulates the most points by the show's end is declared the winner.


After Midnight feels like a generic cable television timeslot filler. Points are awarded/deducted at the host's whim. And there’s no prize awarded for winning. Since After Midnight is a game show it makes the program feel hollow. It is obvious when Tomlinson is faking a laugh during the 48-minute episode entirely comprised of quips.



The show manages to have some redeeming qualities about it. Tomlinson’s lack of ego results in the show being self-aware. The second episode began with Tomlinson showing a screenshot of an article headline from USA Today. The headline claimed that After Midnight was “just ok.” Tomlinson was able to make a relatable joke about the review at her own expense. This is where she shines as a comedian and a host.




Tomlinson’s ability to relate to an audience is what makes her a great comedian and a good pick to host a show. This makes it a shame that After Midnight has no talk show element. While the games can produce laughs, they’re not enough to carry the entire show. If After Midnight featured a talking segment in which the comedians and Tomlinson could riff about various topics (much like David Spade’s comedy central show “Lights Out with David Spade”) the show would better play to the strengths of its host and resonate with more people as a result.




Taylor Tomlinson is a brilliant comedian who can host a great show and bring in new audiences, but only if CBS will let her.



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