TBS Cancels ‘Lopez Tonight,’ Leaving TV Even Whiter Now

Whether or not you think George Lopez's jokes are funny, it's alarming that a country that's quickly becoming more diverse has a media that seldom shows it.

By Jorge Rivas Aug 11, 2011

Cable network TBS announced Wednesday they will not order a third season of "Lopez Tonight" hosted by Mexican-American comedian George Lopez.

"TBS has reached the difficult decision not to order a third season of Lopez Tonight," a TBS spokesperson explained to the Hollywood Reporter. "We are proud to have partnered with George Lopez, who is an immensely talented comedian and entertainer. TBS has valued its partnership with George and appreciates all of his work on behalf of the network, both on and off the air."

Lopez became the first Mexican-American to host a late night talk show in an English language network when his show premiered on TBS in November 2009. His show premiered with ratings that were better than anyone anticipated–Lopez was seen by 1.7 million viewers on TBS, 1 million of which were the highly coveted market of 18-49 year olds. Those numbers were bigger than ABC’s "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart."

But less than a year later when Conan O’Brien joined TBS, "Lopez Tonight" was pushed forward an hour starting at midnight and his viewership took a hit. This year, in the show’s second season, viewership averages at 546,000 viewers–less than half the amount of views Lopez had when the show began. 

Industry insiders don’t blame O’Brien though, they speculate Lopez’s show might have been canceled even sooner if O’Brien had not come to the network. Simply put: In a world where there is no patience for low ratings that affect the ad-buys, TBS canceled the show.

On Wednesday night, on his second to last show George Lopez opened the show with a joke.

"In case you didn’t hear the news TBS has decided not renew Lopez Tonight, but that’s alright. Hey! did you hear the news, unemployment is at an all time high and for Latinos, well, it just got a little higher."

His audience is made up of largely Latino and black viewers who will also have to decide what white comedian they want to see in the evening if they want to laugh. David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Fallon, Carson Daily, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien and for some diversity will throw in Chelsea Handler are the options left on late night T.V. (Tavis Smiley’s show is compelling but doesn’t offer too many laughs so we will not include him in the list of comedians.)

To be sure, Lopez’s show has its flaws. The comedian regularly comments on his female guests appearances and has a fond appreciation for slightly inappropriate homoerotic jokes. But regardless of how you feel about George Lopez, having one less Latino on mainstream TV in a country where the fastest growing group of people are Latinos should be alarming to everyone. 

Latinos get about 6.4 percent of the roles available on T.V, according to the The Screen Actors Guild 2008 Casting Data Report that looks at casting data submitted  by all television and theatrical productions.

Without positive representation of Latinos on T.V. like Lopez, the images we’ve got left of Latinos in the media are those created by right wing politicians and news pundits that often share an anti-immigrant message that has severely driven anti-Latino sentiment.

It’s important we fill this void now. Especially when hate crimes agaisnt Latinos are on the rise.