Tonight will conclude Jay Leno's seventeen year run as host of The Tonight Show. During his hosting era he has dominated the ratings for his time slot. So you'd think there'd be an outpouring of affection for him in these final days, but there doesn't seem to be any. Why?
Now, it'd be easy and cheap to make a bunch of "Jay Leno sucks" jokes here because the internet hates Jay Leno, mainly because he's liked by the olds and people who live in red states, and the internet collectively tends to shit on anything liked by the olds and people who live in red states, but the question begs to be pondered—-Why is there no outpouring of emotion for Jay Leno leaving as host of The Tonight Show? In a country that adores and worships it's television icons, here's a guy who has exhibited longevity and ratings dominance, and there just doesn't seem to be any palpable sense of loss anywhere in the culture for his stepping down, which is, well, sort of odd. Now, we have no statistical data to back that up, it's just a feeling, a strong hunch if you will, that we have deep down inside, but we're usually pretty good at gauging these sorts of things, and our gut is telling us that no one really gives a shit about Jay Leno leaving.
Think back to when Carson stepped down from The Tonight Show, or when Seinfeld or the Sopranos went off the air, or hell just think back to last week's finale of American Idol—-These were times when people felt true hurt, an actual sense of loss, over these people, characters and shows going away. I've been there and I know how these endings can feel almost as if a piece of your soul has been stolen away.
Now, we suppose an argument can be made for the fact that Leno's not really going away altogether. He is, after all, returning later in the year to host a new nightly show in the 10pm time slot, so it stands to reason that Jay Leno fans aren't weeping because he's not truly going away. But in response to that argument we would simply ask—-What about Conan?
When Conan O'Brien stepped down from his show earlier in the year, people were acting as if he was slowly dying, despite the fact that he was set to be back on the air in June as host of the Tonight Show. So why aren't people doing the same for Leno?
About a half hour ago, we went out to the 24 hour deli around the corner for a cup of coffee as our mind had begun to drift into a fog. On the walk to and from the deli, we were thinking about Jay Leno. We thought about how he seems like a super nice guy, like he'd make a great neighbor, someone you could trust your kid or your dog with if you had to in an emergency. Just an overall swell guy, especially for someone in Hollywood. We were beginning to almost feel guilty for not liking him more. We sort of found ourselves asking—-"What the fuck is wrong with you?! Why don't you like this guy more?" And then it hit us that this is exactly the reason no one is crying for Jay Leno.
You see, Jay Leno is sort of like a wife or a husband or a lover that you just sort of settle for. He's a serviceable, but utterly passionless flame. He's nice. Jay Leno is the nice guy. He's safe. And despite all the harping and preaching about how much we love nice people in America, we don't truly let ourselves get too emotionally involved with them. The rebels and the bitches are the ones that we fall for, in every possible way, and there is nothing rebellious or bitchy about Jay Leno, despite the fact that he collects hot rod cars and rides motorbikes, which sort of makes it even all the more pathetic that we're not crazy in love with him.
With all of that said, we're really looking forward to watching Leno's final show tonight, but not out of any sense of nostalgia or overwhelming love for Leno mind you. No, we're just so looking forward to seeing Conan as his guest for his final show. We get excited each time we see those promos with him running on the beach in his suit and we just can't wait for him to get back on the air regularly. You see, Conan, buried deep inside that outwardly geeky aura, is a rebel. And that's why millions of people just like us hold passionate feelings for him, something that just can't be said for Jay Leno.
UPDATE:Our friend Gabe at Videogum felt sorry for nobody loving Jay Leno and made a fan montage for him. It needed to be done.