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Celebrating Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Communities

Lilly Singh Is Running The Show

The Canadian internet star is offering something a little different, and a little queer, on A Little Late with Lilly Singh

By Bianca Guzzo

It’s no secret that late-night television has been a boys’ club for a long time – more specifically, a white, cisgender and straight boys’ club. Seeing men deliver their commentary on social and political topics nightly has become our cultural norm. Late-night talk shows are so heavily dominated by male personalities that there’s little to no diversity, which is kind of a big deal when you’re talking about social, economic and political issues. So when it was announced earlier this year that YouTuber and Canada’s very own Lilly Singh (a.k.a. IISuperwomanII) would be getting her own late-night talk show it was a huge step in the right direction, and actually a really big deal for a number of reasons.

First, not only is Singh a woman, she is also a woman of colour. At the beginning of 2019, she publicly came out as bisexual. She let her followers know that no matter how many boxes you might tick, those boxes should never hold you back, and in fact should be celebrated as your unique superpowers. Singh was not only breaking her own barriers, but also the barriers of that long-running boys’ club of late-night television.

Even when we take late-night talk shows out of the equation, bisexual visibility is still super limited on mainstream television shows. Lately we’ve seen a rise in the visibility of bisexual characters on teen drama shows like Riverdale, but we don’t have as many real-life personalities who identify as bisexual in mainstream media. Lilly Singh is the trifecta of diversity, and the breath of fresh air that fans and lovers of late-night television have been searching for. She is changing the dynamic of late night just by existing in the space, but she’s making her mark by pushing the boundaries.

When we think of women who are currently dominating late night, Samantha Bee comes to mind. A comedian and experienced late-night correspondent, Bee has created a show that is popular and intelligent, and runs on a comedy network. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee tends to focus more on social and political stories. Both women offer different, and more diverse, viewpoints that are needed on prime-time television, but in comparison, A Little Late with Lilly Singh runs on a mainstream network, and has more of a pop-culture approach. This puts Singh in the same category as late-night giants like James Corden, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon.

Lilly is a trailblazer for LGBTQ+ personalities on a global stage, and in the world of late night. She’s one of the first, and her late late LATE timeslot gives her the opportunity to push boundaries with the topics she chooses to talk about on her show. Whether it’s making a joke gift basket for a politician after a scandal, or challenging Mindy Kaling to a Euphoria makeup race, no topic is off-limits for Singh. From digital shorts, to games with the various celebrities who come to hang out, Singh also opens up about her bisexuality – which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is.

What’s also really cool is the way that Singh has chosen to go forward as a queer woman on late night. She doesn’t make her sexuality a preface to any comments or jokes; she just goes ahead and says them. Her bluntness about her bisexuality has allowed her to claim her space unapologetically. She doesn’t tiptoe around her sexuality without addressing the issues she faces as a queer woman. Her relaxed approach gives the show a more casual, but cool and exclusive, vibe that gives A Little Late with Lilly Singh an edge over the more structured programs of her male counterparts, which is fun to watch with the wide range of guests she has on her couch.

The show has potential to be the breath of fresh air that late night desperately needs. A Little Late is still new, and like all new things, it needs a little time, some practice. Any fan of late-night television will know it takes all new hosts a while to learn what format works well for their show, and whileA Little Latemight be a little rough around the edges, Singh has definitely got something special that can change the way people in the LGBTQ+ communities participate in mainstream popular culture.

Singh is setting the bar for the new normal, not only in the world of late night, but also in the grand world of mainstream media – normalization of something a little different to what we’re used to seeing. Sitting behind a desk on late-night television makes clear that women, people of colour, and members of the LGBTQ+ community also belong there. Singh is making a statement simply by unapologetically taking up space in the late-night entertainment industry – and not only are we here for it, but we can’t wait to see more queer people follow her lead, and take up space in places where we’ve traditionally been told that we don’t belong. Lilly Singh has always been a boss, and now people of the LGBTQ+ community see that they can have a seat at the desk too. And there’s a lot of power in that.

BIANCA GUZZO is a writer based out of the GTA. She spends her free time watching Trixie Mattel makeup tutorials, though she has yet to nail the look.

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