Last week, Trevor Noah shocked the world by announcing that he will be leaving The Daily Show at some point in the future (he didn’t say when, just that it would be happening), and by “shocked the world,” we mean it: The announcement was reportedly news to some members of the show’s staff and even to people at Comedy Central, but according to a new Hollywood Reporter piece, it’s emblematic of some much bigger issues at the network.
Those issues seem to have been exacerbated by the rise of current MTV Entertainment Group CEO Chris McCarthy, who rose up through the ranks of Viacom’s unscripted division and has recently decided that Comedy Central should not be making live-action, scripted comedies… or, really, anything but South Park. THR notes that it was under McCarthy’s watch that Drunk History was canned, that South Side and The Other Two were handed over to HBO Max, and that a development deal with Paul W. Downs and Lucia Aniello—who later co-created HBO Max’s Hacks—was canceled.
THR says industry insiders describe McCarthy as either “a smart, thoughtful straight shooter” or an “aloof bean counter” (though we know enough corpo-speak to understand that those are the same thing when we’re talking about CEOs). Also, according to a “still-incredulous source,” someone asked McCarthy what his favorite TV show was during one of his first all-hands meetings after taking over three years ago, and he “couldn’t think of one TV show.” Instead, he said he “liked watching CNN.”
One “agency partner” told THR that McCarthy hasn’t bothered forming or maintaining relationships with “talent or their representatives” and noted that “at least [immediately infamous Warner Bros. Discovery boss] David Zaslav did the tour” before ripping his company apart. The implication seems to be that McCarthy knows exactly what he wants and is only going to do that, regardless of whether or not anyone else wants that or if it will actually work out.
What this means for the viewers is that the Comedy Central we used to know and love—the one that was presenting fun and relevant original programming rather than just The Daily Show and syndicated reruns—is probably dead, and may have been dead for a long time. The Daily Show will probably survive, regardless of who ends up taking Noah’s place, and South Park will always be there, but that’s not much to hang an entire network’s future on.