Jimmy Fallon’s Ratings Suffer as Fans Sense Insincerity and Risk-Avoidant Behavior

Jimmy Fallon used to reign as the late-night king. From well-choreographed and laugh-out-loud-funny lip sync battles to casual interviews – often relying on quick quips and nostalgiac walks down memory lane – Fallon had found the secret to late-night success. Then came Trump.

Jimmy Fallon
Jimmy Fallon | Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Stephen Colbert has managed to surpass Jimmy Fallon’s ratings following the last presidential election. With Trump in office, the nation has grown divided, and Colbert has no qualms jumping to the left of this divide.

Colbert’s opening monologues are more than politically inclined, they are politically focused, and often jab at Trump’s lack of communication ability, hypocritical nature, and overall disposition. However, Fallon has, in large part, remained politically avoidant.

The problem: the Trump administration is an overbearing presence hovering over our nation like a dark cloud. As a result, Fallon’s approach comes off as insincere and disconnected from the world. Fans ask, how could he mindlessly engage in yet another game? Does he think the world will cease spinning in its haphazard fashion for his show’s one hour block?

Not to mention, Fallon didn’t do himself any favors when he ruffled Trump’s hair –  humanizing the man whom many see as a monster – suggesting that he could “have fun” with anyone. Where’s the line?

Jimmy Fallon’s risk-avoidant behavior minimizes his show’s relevance 

Ruffling Trump’s hair was intended to be “funny,” Fallon later admitted. However, such a statement proves that the late-night host is missing one vital point: Trump should have been “the line;” cheap humor should have been sacrificed for a singular moment of sincetity. How about a little political satire to put the man in the hot-seat, instead?

Fallon remained his goofy, non-political self. As a result, he put a poor taste in many fans’ mouths, especially fans who identify as liberals, and would have liked to see the host provide some indication of his alignment with the democratic party.

Sometimes, it’s better to take a risk and discover who your diehard fans are, then to lose your diehard fans as a result of safety precautions. Stephen Colbert’s ratings have surged because his show remains relevant in an age defined by politics. 

There are always a few people who say “I don’t really follow politics” or “I don’t really have a side;” however, Trump removed those people from existence, and Colbert is well aware of that. Is Fallon? Fallon’s negligence to take a stand – even if in a comedic way – reduces his show’s relevance, and minimizes the impact he used to provide his audience. 

Jimmy Fallon’s personality is now seen as a “showbiz shtick”

Before the Trump administration, Jimmy Fallon’s show was seen as a manifestation of the host’s personality: his light-hearted nature and simple desire to make anyone laugh. 

Under Trump’s administration, a commitment to such a personality – in a time that should elicit change – comes off as insincere. People wonder how Fallon has remains so detached, and many former admirers have stopped defending the host with the classic line: “That’s just Fallon.”

The intimate connection assumed to exist between Fallon and his show was part of the host’s success; however, now people are beginning to wonder if his personality, so to speak, is just a “showbiz shtick:” what Fallon does at all costs.

If Fallon is willing to be the “good guy,” no matter the bombs that fall before him, who is he really? What have all these years meant? What are his opinions? What are his virtues and values? If a new Fallon – one who comes out swinging, stating his views with zeal, and showing the world who he is – doesn’t appear soon, his ratings may continue to suffer. However, it may be too late…

Such an intense tonal shift could easily come off as a bid to improve ratings; meaning, Fallon may be stuck kicking on in the same fashion, hoping for the best, until Trump becomes a mere memory.