While I know it means more lost jobs, ever since we started staying at home, I’ve enjoyed seeing TV pundits and their guests having discussions from their homes. The lost jobs I refer to are primarily the people that see to the hosts’ and guests’ hair and makeup prior to going on camera. That’s not feasible now and it’s sometimes quite obvious that people are putting on their own makeup (if any) and letting their beards grow (that would be the men, that is.)
It’s interesting to see the different levels of technology available to the hosts and guests as well. Some will be using wired earbuds, some will have airbuds, and some are using their computer or phone’s speakers and mic. The hosts, I’m assuming here, have access to more sophisticated equipment, though that wasn’t the case at first. It’s also been interesting to see the evolution of some of these shows, as I’m sure some of the tech they normally use in production has been moved to the homes of the hosts.
I’m speaking here of many of the afternoon and evening shows on MSNBC, the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and Late Night with Seth Meyers. All of these shows have a plethora of guests, and each one is communicating from somewhere in their home.
Another aspect of this new reality I find fascinating is where these people choose to set up their “studio.” On MSNBC, many of the guests (especially now, when so much of the news centers on this pandemic and many of the guests are medical and epidemiology professionals, as well as public health and service professionals, there are lots of bookshelves in the background.
Some of the guests are situated so it’s possible to get a glimpse of the titles of a few of their books and it’s possible to gain a sliver of insight into who these people are or, at least, what they’re interested in. My entire adult life, whenever I am at the house of someone I know, if I have the opportunity I will always check out their bookshelves. It’s not different when I have the opportunity to do so via the Tube.
Just one example. If I remember correctly, at least until recently, Trevor Noah had two books laying down on a shelf over his right shoulder. I don’t recall if I could make out the titles, but the authors’ names were quite visible and, frankly, that’s enough to get a sense of what he’s giving credence to or what he’s enjoying learning about. The two authors in this case were. Ta-Nehisi Coates and Eddie Glaude, two men I admire.
There are two other shows I normally watch, and each of them has chosen a wildly different approach for how to go about having a show with no guests and no crew (at least not at their homes.) They are Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Real Time with Bill Maher. John Oliver, whose show generally consists of him sitting behind a desk, with an audience, now sits in front of a white wall; that’s it. Bill Maher, on the other hand, has chosen to record his show in his backyard and he uses laugh tracks from old (and I do mean old – black and white) TV shows.
I can’t imagine how they’re thinking of doing original dramas, rom-coms, and the like, but I hope they never go back to doing reality shows. The last nearly three and a half years should have cured the majority of the nation from the need to ever see a reality show again.
Regardless, it’s interesting to watch the development of “workarounds” as their crews get more and more creative in dealing with working remotely. I’m hopeful it will result in a lasting change to how we view things like the need for men to wear a suit and tie almost any time a camera is on them. Or the need for women to have perfectly coiffed hair and painstakingly applied makeup. I’d like to see the world lighten up and relax a bit. We could use it.