TV | May 17, 2017 9:08 am

Jimmy Fallon Struggles For Relevancy in Donald Trump Era

'Tonight Show' has seen ratings dip due, in part, to controversial interview.

Remember the hair-muss heard ’round the world?

Last September, NBC’s The Late Show Starring Jimmy Fallon landed an interview with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. Instead of playing journalistic hardball with the controversial candidate, Fallon did his usual soft, celebrity-friendly interview. Many viewers were put off by the sight of him joking around with the future president and mussing up his hair like a little boy—to show everybody that it wasn’t a toupée.


But many critics and viewers weren’t having any of the softball/humanizing of the controversial candidate, and that, in part, has led to a monumental slide in viewership for Fallon, who once held a sizable lead—nearly one million viewers—over his closest competitor at the time, Stephen Colbert.

The latter, of course, is now enjoying a nice bump due to his highly politicized opening monologues.


Fallon, by contrast, has struggled to find footing with political humor, not a natural fit for his no-sharp-edges brand.

Although Fallon’s show is still profitable and rakes in advertisers, the New York Times speculates as to whether or not the talk show host (and his shtick) can weather four years of a  Trump presidency: “What if the broader shift to a more partisan, more openly anti-Trump late-night isn’t temporary? If it has a longer life and a bigger impact than anyone foresees, what does he want his show to be?”

That’s a good question.