Press For Progress: Why Lilly Singh is Revolutionising Late Night TV

Lilly Singh Announced as NBC's Only Woman on Network Late Night

Nearly 100 years ago, British women gained the right to vote for the first time. Fast forward to 1986, Joan Rivers became the first woman to have her own late-night talk show on Fox. Now, in 2019, Lilly Singh has become first woman to host her own late-night TV show in decades on NBC, and across the four national big networks: ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. Having taken 33 years, for a woman to put herself on the map of late-night TV, we can only ask ourselves- is this progress?

Having amassed 14.5 million subscribers and nearly 3 billion views on YouTube, we can only expect the best from Lilly Singh. By starting in 2010, under the pseudonym “IISuperwomanII”, Lilly Singh knew that anything was possible for her. With various awards and nominations, a book, multiple television appearances, we can only consider that this breakthrough is just the beginning for her.

From overcoming depression to being listed on Forbes, she has jumped great hurdles to get where she is. As a self-made woman, she provides an inspiration and hope for many women of colour to pave their paths and reach for the highest opportunity out there. Having come out as bisexual recently, she also leads in holding the hands of many LGBTQ+ people to overcome the obstacles they may face.

Though everyone is extremely happy for the progress we can only wonder, why has it taken this long?

We can only argue that perhaps there has never been an opportunity for a woman to star due to the male hosts serving such long TV careers. Though this does not justify the discrimination that women face daily and the reasoning for a woman to not star yet. We can only commend NBC for making the first step in starting this evolution.

“Representation is important in providing little girls an ambition”

As such a big milestone for both Lilly Singh and women’s television history, there’s various reasons why this is a step in the right direction for women. She provides representation and diversity in such a patriarchal television world. Representation is important in providing little girls an ambition, to tell woman that nothing is limitless and to embrace ourselves for who we are. The phrase “if she can’t see it, she can’t be it” being put to use by Geena Davis, an American actress, highlights the importance of women in media. Representation allows us to break the status quo, break formulaic approaches to television and bring fresh new ideas to the table.

As humans we spend so much time consuming ourselves in television that it has become one of the leading platforms in shaping the way we think and see things in the world. If representation doesn’t occur, we are missing out on huge learning opportunities to educate ourselves on the cultures and diversities that surround us. At the end of the day, only a minority can be the voice for those that are under-represented.

“We are continuously breaking the glass ceiling”

Representation is slowly but steadily becoming a reality. Although it may feel like sometimes it is not being done, Lilly Singh’s milestone provides hope that there is optimism. White-washing in media is not being tolerated no more, hence any inaccuracies in portraying minorities are being called out. As for women, Lilly Singh’s progression shows that we are continuously breaking the glass ceiling that that acts as a barrier for many women’s hopes and dreams. We can only hope that we are able to shatter more glass ceilings for the future. Lilly Singh’s progression is not just for women but for the underrepresented people that exist in society.

Lilly Singh has made progress, by blazing an important and unprecedented path and now, we can only hope for the best.

Saumya Surendran

Featured image courtesy of Gage Skidmore Flickr. Image license found here.

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