I have been banging on about Busy Philipps's This Will Only Hurt a Little all week on Smutty Social Media and judging by my inbox, Busy is reaching what I will call the CTZ (Chrissy Teigen Zone). That’s when a famous woman’s career gels into a persona that is authentic/relatable/hilarious/opinionated/irreverent and obviously extremely popular. (They also tend to be physically beautiful by everyone’s standards, because let’s not forget for a second that this is Hollywood.)
On Busy Tonight’s first week, Mindy Kaling, Kristen Bell, Vanessa Hudgens, and Megan Mullally are booked – I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s all women. E! is also reporting she has Julia Roberts, Tracee Ellis Ross, Olivia Munn and Lauren Graham scheduled, presumably in the near future (the full list of names is here).
What I’m most excited about is watching how Busy interviews her peers, because how often do we get to watch women do that on a late night talk show? (We see guys like Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers do it all the time.) Busy is an actress, so when she interviews Mindy or Vanessa or Olivia Munn or Tracee or Lauren, she is bringing years of experience and comradery to those conversations, a baseline of kinship. These won’t be Lake Blively interviews.
But that doesn’t mean we have any idea how this show will work, tonally or in the ratings. That can be said of any new show – you can have the perfect cast and a great idea and an experienced team and it goes nowhere. Which is exactly what happened to Busy’s pilot Sackett Sisters. The sting from that non-starter is part of what led Busy to this talk show. I won’t trace the trajectory, in part because I don’t want to ruin the book and in part because although this is a huge gigantic milestone that Busy should be proud of, her book makes it clear that in her business, most actors (even the ones we consider incredibly successful) deal with job insecurity.
So I’m not going to make this an end-all-be-all for Busy. That would be unfair. The Tonight Show bounced from Leno to Conan back to Leno and then to Jimmy Fallon and it was a f-cking mess and no one was risking their career. They all turned out fine. Even if this show tanks, Busy deserves to be fine, too.
Talk shows need time to find a rhythm, test out what works and what doesn’t. There is no magic formula. I hope she gets the time and space she deserves to develop her voice as a late night talk show host.