Did We Just See a Father’s Day Episode of “Real Time With Bill Maher”?

Guest Charlamagne Tha God discussed Caitlin Clark, A’ja Wilson and the WNBA

Bill Maher and Charlamagne Tha God
Bill Maher and Charlamagne Tha God on the latest "Real Time."

Real Time With Bill Maher doesn’t really do holiday shows. That isn’t all that surprising in and of itself, both for logistical reasons and because of Maher’s irreverent demeanor. Still, this week’s episode was about as close to a dedicated Father’s Day episode of Real Time as we’re going to get — with questions of the roles of fathers and sons raised both early in the episode and in its conclusion.

First up was radio host and author Charlamagne Tha God, who’s been giving memorable interviews recently about his own relationship to the media. When asked by Maher about the big-name guests he’s interviewed over the years, Charlamagne took a relatively modest tone. “They’re not coming for me; they’re coming for the audience,” he said. As for his appeal, he rooted that in a specific characteristic:  “I think what people like — they like the fact that I’m sincere.” 

The two men covered a lot of thematic ground, with Charlamagne at one point reminding Maher that “Black people aren’t monolithic.” He also addressed his relationship to this year’s Presidential election, telling Maher, “I’m not endorsing anybody. But that doesn’t mean I’m not voting.”

Conversation turned to Caitlin Clark — more specifically, to Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson’s comments regarding Clark’s race and marketability. Maher sounded skeptical about this; Charlamagne argued that Wilson had a point. He pointed out that Wilson has been a two-time league MVP and, like Clark, was drafted first overall. “She’s just getting a signature shoe now,” he added.

After a bit more back-and-forth, Charlamagne clarified his position. “I’m not saying it’s racism. I’m saying I think A’ja Wilson has a point,” he said. “I think sometimes when Black women say certain things. Especially her. Because I’m not in her shoes.”

In the final part of the interview, Charlamagne discussed mental health. “I’m a big advocate for therapy,” he said. Some of that, he continued, related to his own relationship to his father. “If my dad had felt safe enough to have those conversations with me years ago, I wouldn’t have thought I was bugging out every time I smoked sativa,” he said.

Maher returned to the subject of fatherhood in the editorial segment that brought New Rules to a close.  He used the occasion of Father’s Day to argue against overly permissive parenting, which included the observation that “sex dolls set more boundaries than today’s parents.”

If you think that this might turn into a critique of Kids These Days, you would be correct. “You’re not supposed to get PTSD in college! You’re supposed to get an STD!” Maher said at one point. 

His argument, ultimately, was that parents needed to be more forceful; he argued that the alternative was much worse. “When we don’t give [teenage boys] a masculine male role model they look up to, they find one. And, being teenage boys, of course they find the worst possible one,” he said. “Andrew Tate is a man who answers the question, ‘What if Axe body spray could talk?’” As mental images go, it’s a memorable one.

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Other notable moments from the episode: 

  • Maher on Donald Trump: “It’s never about politics anymore; it’s about the cult. He could come down tomorrow at a press conference with blue hair and a shirt that says ‘Trans Women Are Women’ and they’d say, ‘He has a good point.’”
  • Charlamagne Tha God brought out a copy of his book and propped it up next to his chair. “If you’re going to sell books, this is the place to sell books,” he said. I respect the self-promotion.
  • For this episode’s panel discussion, Maher was joined by The View’s Ana Navarro and In Defense of Elitism author Joel Stein.
  • Navarro had perhaps the most memorable phrase of the night: “Donald Trump’s emotional support Senators.”
  • Maher, on the giant sunfish that washed ashore in Oregon: “Are you sure that’s not the new Tesla?”
  • Next week, Maher will be the featured interviewee; Jiminy Glick will be his interlocutor.

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