Jeeg and I both have expressed our fondness for Conan O’Brien and on Twitter and The Facebook, I’ve been dropping hints at my disdain for the recent events brought on by NBC. It’s hard to find something new to say about this that hasn’t been said. Even as I try to compose this post, I find that I harken back to things I said weeks ago.
I guess what fascinates me the most is the immense following Conan has and the support he’s gotten in recent weeks. Especially in contrast to the guy they’re replacing him with…the one who had the best ratings in that time slot for 15 years. First, even though I’m not a Neilsen family, I can’t help but feel a bit guilty for not having watched Conan’s Tonight Show more. With the grad school and the kids and the [fill in the blank excuse here], I just haven’t been able to catch the show as much as I’d like. I forced myself to stay up and watch the last three episodes live (followed by a ceremonial deprogramming of NBC off of my programmed channels list on early Saturday morning). I can’t help but wonder where all these millions of people who were watching Conan the past couple weeks were. Had they been watching earlier, Conan wouldn’t be out of a job right now.
What does this say, though? The times they are a-changin’ and my generation (Gen X) and the generations that come after mine don’t watch appointment television the same way we used to and the way our parents did/do. NBC graduated Roosterhead to the big chair to appeal to us and then have shunned us seven months later. It’s been interesting to read all the theories behind why Conan has gotten such a swell of support. Some have theorized that it’s a generational thing, Gen X versuse Boomers. Maybe there’s something to that. It’s time for us to have OUR Tonight Show now. (But then we don’t watch it.) Others have theorized the support just comes from a vicarious desire to be able to tell our bosses what we think in much the same way Conan has been able to. That may be it, too.
I see both of those reasonings, but for me, it’s something more. Maybe my feelings on the matter can be summed up best in an e-mail I send to the other Nerd Lunchers:
I’ll admit that I’m taking this whole Conan thing a bit more personally than I should. I think every kid has those lofty dreams they want to chase. I had several. Write the Superman comics. Become a Muppeteer. Host The Tonight Show. And then reality sets in and it becomes something you stop chasing. Conan never stopped chasing. He’s me if I didn’t stop chasing and actually got the big chair. So if NBC has indeed told him he’s out, NBC has told me that I’m out, too.
I don’t know where Conan will end up. My current guess is that he’ll end up somewhere doing something that is similar but never reaches the heights he achieved during Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Or maybe he’ll surprise me and do something even better. Whatever he does, I hope he never stops chasing.