Busy Philipps always seems to be poised on the edge of stardom and has built a career as The Best Friend. I do not intend this to be a slam at all — Philipps easily has the charisma to pull off a leading role. Who didn’t want Kim Kelly to be their best friend after watching Freaks & Geeks? She had the difficult task on Dawson’s Creek of being a late college addition, and she still managed to give Audrey a warmth and charm that made her instantly likable.
That being said, the best display of her talents was in the poorly named, woefully underappreciated Cougar Town. Philipps’ Laurie was equal parts Florida trash and lightning-quick comedic timing, and while the show never gained the audience that it deserved (Penny Can!), fans hoped that it would be the vehicle that launched Philipps into a new level.
That moment seemed to arrive when it was announced that Philipps and Happy Endings‘ Casey Wilson would be headlining an NBC sitcom The Sackett Sisters in 2017, but unfortunately, that proved to be a nonstarter. However, Philipps began to gain attention on a totally different platform: Instagram. I know, okay? So much of celebrity Instagram is curated promotions and beautiful pictures of famous people, and while Philipps does take part in that aspect of social media, there is a transparency permeating through her page. Yes, there are native ads and perfect Madewell outfits and BFF snaps of her and Michelle Williams, but Philipps has such a confessional nature that somehow it feels like you’re looking at the pictures of someone that you actually know. From many, this would feel like a trick, but with Philipps, it just feels like a natural extension of who she is.
Which is why she is going to be perfect as a late-night host. E! announced this week that Philipps is joining the network with a new talk show, tentatively titled Busy Tonight. While the details are still hazy, it’s safe to say that people are already excited to see what she brings to the late-night landscape. While (white) men have long dominated the world of late-night television, women like Samantha Bee, Robin Thede, and Sarah Silverman have been working to carve out space for the female perspective that has long been absent. Armed with custom jackets designed by Bee, these women are working tirelessly to succeed in a man’s world, and Philipps is the perfect voice to join them. With the charming rapport proven by her relatable Instagram stories and her already tested comedic timing, Philipps has the chance to unite the fun of Jimmy Fallon with a sincerity that he often lacks.
But beating Fallon and the other male late-night hosts at their own game is not the point. Instead, Philipps joining the ranks of late-night hosts is an opportunity for something completely different. While Samantha Bee has a lockdown on the righteous anger side of the spectrum, Philipps has an opportunity to make late-night fun again. If she can combine her gift of gab and surprising honesty with genuine joy, Philipps has a chance to make an enjoyable talk show, which often feels like an impossibility in the Trump era. Cultural commentary with a side of Williams as a guest star (from my lips to the TV gods’ ears)?
Sign. Me. Up.