Earlier this week Conan O’Brien announced that after eleven seasons, he’s going off the air on TBS. He’ll be doing another show for HBO Max but he’s moving on from the late night format he’s been a part of for almost 30 years.
Do you have a favourite Conan moment? I mean there are a lot, but once or twice a year I always go back to when he went on a Lyft ride with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart. I’ve seen this clip at least 20 times, if not more, and it still cracks me up.
The sequel, three years later, works too. Like, how bad do you wish you were Diana?!
So Conan’s wrapping up his show. But…that’s not why he went viral this week. He didn’t go viral because he’s giving up his timeslot on TBS. He went viral because of BTS.
That was from this week’s episode of Run BTS!, which was a collaboration with a popular Korean variety show called The Game Caterers. Variety shows are big in South Korea – I’ve written about this before, how many of them I’ve watched during this year of lockdown, and the western celebrities who’ve appeared on them, like Ryan Reynolds and Tom Cruise. These shows are often bonkers, the games are stupidly entertaining, and really, really funny. And they attract top tier talent. Unlike western stars, Korean A-listers are not averse to showing up on a variety show to participate in ridiculous missions which is why the biggest band in the world is playing a celebrity identification game …for food.
The point of the game was to speed-round flashcards with famous faces. RM, Jin, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook would each get shown a card and would have to answer. Every time they missed though, the game producer would take away an item of food from the display table in front of them. As the game went on, they were losing out on their favourite ingredients: sliced beef, marinated ribs, tofu etc – critical because they were supposed to cook for themselves during the next part of the game. That’s another thing about Korean variety shows. When celebrities come on, they’re not coddled. They’re expected, often, to spend hours on set shooting the missions. It’s not just a 15 minute segment and they’re done.
What you’re seeing in that Conan clip, then, is just a few seconds of a FOUR PART SERIES. Can you imagine, like, f-cking Justin Timberlake shooting a four part variety show playing games non-stop for an entire day?
The reason I’m going into so much detail here though is because part of Conan’s new deal with HBO Max involves a weekly variety show. So he could actually learn something from this accidental slight. Western producers could learn something from what television producers in South Korea are doing with their variety formats. Remember, The Masked Singer started in SK. And there are several other variety concepts that are totally transferable and adaptable from the Korean versions. I wonder if Team Coco isn’t already looking into it.
And I also wonder, since BTS is currently just kicking off a major promotional cycle for their new song, “Butter”, dropping on May 21, whether or not they just might make an appearance on Conan’s show before it ends, now that there’s a reason for them to connect.