Viceland’s Desus and Mero is carving out a place for itself in the late-night TV landscape. Two Bronx natives, Desus Nice and The Kid Mero, are shaking up the late-night scene and are doing it by remaining true to themselves.
The duo met on Twitter several years ago, both of them having a similar brand of humor. They started doing a podcast together and projects with Complex and MTV followed. But the pair got their big break with the premiere of their daily new show on Viceland last fall.
Among the things that make the show intriguing is the way the show eschews many of the late-night norms. There’s no monologue or studio band. There are no games with guests or recurring man-on-the-street segments. The set of the show is simple: two chairs in front of a taxidermied bear wearing Timberland boots. Desus and Mero follows the same basic format each show. The first segment is a rundown of the news of of the day mixed with things the duo find interesting or funny. Then they have a guest segment and then they end with “shoutouts”, which is basically rapid fire commentary on viral news stories. The show is unscripted, which allows the show to flow organically. Sometimes the A-block is the majority of the show but other times it runs short in order to make room for a longer guest segment. It all depends on the day which helps keep the show fresh.
Another aspect of the show that makes the show so fun is the way the hosts interact with each other. The two banter back and forth like a couple of dudes sitting in the barbershop, talking about whatever crosses their mind. Desus is the straight man, spitting out zingers with cool precision. Mero brings the personality; alternatively yelling and gesticulating wildly. The two complement each other perfectly, balancing each other out. The two are good friends in real life and that level of comfort with each other comes through the TV.
The one thing that makes the show really stand out from among the other late-night fare is how raw and authentic the show is. The show is laced with profanity, which the censors may or may not catch. Desus and Mero use Bronx-specific slang and references that may go over the head of the casual viewer but to loyal fans, they only add to the experience. The guests they bring on the show aren’t the usual list of celebrities that have a movie to plug but a wide range of folks that the hosts genuinely like and are interested in. They’ve had activist Deray Mckesson, ESPN personality Bomani Jones, and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, just to name a few of their guest. They guest segment can range from serious and insightful to hilarious and ridiculous. But the great thing is that neither extreme feels out of place because of the range the show has.
Viceland took a chance on Desus and Mero. The show is incredibly different from everything else in its timeslot. It wouldn’t have been unreasonable for Viceland execs to have been skeptical that a show that’s basically just two guys from the Bronx shooting the breeze could be successful on a large scale. However Desus and Mero has become one of the hottest new last-night shows by being unashamedly different and more importantly, because the hosts have an unwavering commitment to being themselves.