Listen, Late Night is a groundbreaking film written by, directed by, and starring some of the most powerful, badass women in the game. At Sundance, the buddy comedy sold to Amazon for 13 million dollars. This is a huge deal, especially considering it was written by Mindy Kaling and directed by Nisha Ganatra, both women of color, and stars Oscar winner/living legend Emma Thompson, a leading lady over 50. So I feel a little guilty about my main takeaway….
I should tell you what it’s about in case you haven’t had a chance to see it (although, with its impressive box-office opening, that might not be a problem). Iconic talk-show host Katherine Newbury (Emma) may be the only woman in the game with a long-running late-night talk show (30 years to be exact), but her writers room? All men. When she’s accused of being anti-feminist, she hires Molly Patel (Mindy) without real thought in hopes to stave off criticism. Up until this moment, Molly worked at a chemical plant and had pretty much no writing experience.
So that’s already not going great, considering Molly’s coworkers pretty much hate her. But when Katherine hears she’s being replaced by a Dane Cook–esque comedian, Molly becomes the one person who can shake up Katherine’s routine enough to keep them both around. If not the most memorable, the PG-13 Late Night is solidly funny and inspirational and proved that no one looks better in a suit than Emma Thompson.
But what I really want to talk about is a minor, itty-bitty background plot that had me feeling some type of way. (Spoilers ahead, if you are concerned.) When Mindy—I mean Molly—joins the writers room, she is less welcomed-with-open-arms and more ostracized-for-being-a-diversity-hire (their sentiments, not mine). The only guy who shows her a bit of caring is Charlie, played by Hugh Dancy, who I had no idea was going to be in this movie. I’ve personally been in love with him since Ella Enchanted, so I was happy to latch on to him as the film’s love interest. I stan.
But then, out of nowhere, Charlie is a total fuckboi! He sleeps around immediately after hooking up with Mi—Molly (dammit) and had an affair with Katherine that he leverages for a chance to boost his career, nearly destroying hers and ruining her marriage. I should have known he was too good to be true—there were some subtle hints throughout the film foreshadowing his true nature:
Mindy ends up with the other guy in the picture, but here’s the thing…I still wanted Charlie, even after he turned into the villain. What’s wrong with me? Hugh Dancy, that’s what. Whether it’s playing a criminal profiler drawn into homoerotic mind games with an eccentric cannibal in Hannibal or being an unhinged cult leader in The Path or simply attending red carpets with his wife, Claire Danes, there is nothing you can make him do that won’t come off as utterly charming. Hugh is very much my whole type: crooked grin and soft eyes that I would trust with my life and my dog’s life. I don’t even care that he doesn’t reach six feet tall: He’s still hot at 43, and that’s that on that.
How about a little more dressed down?
I don’t feel good about it, but Charlie can sleep around on me anytime. I’ll still show up to his door with takeout the next day. What’s wrong with me? I need to take some serious lessons in self-worth and empowerment from Mindy.
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