An annotated guide to this extremely diverse Vanity Fair photo of late-night hosts

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Today, Vanity Fair shared a brave, groundbreaking photo of the 10 major late-night talk show hosts, which accompanies a feature story in the magazine's October issue.

The importance of this image cannot be overstated. Finally, thanks to VF, we have all the proof we need to shut down anyone who who complains about a "lack" of diversity on late night. Let's break it down:

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  • Stephen Colbert is wearing plaid [1]. Larry Wilmore is also wearing plaid, but it's a subtle plaid [2]. There's a place for every plaid on late night.
  • Jimmy Kimmel is holding a clear beverage [3], while the other hosts hold dark beverages. Stephen Colbert is holding a bottle of whiskey [4]. Jimmy Fallon is holding nothing, or possibly an invisible drink [5]. James Corden is sipping a juicebox [6]. You see, you can drink whatever you like on late night—although probably not on air, unless it's the juicebox.
  • Conan O'Brien and Stephen Colbert have diagonal stripes on their ties [7, 8], but the stripes are angled in opposite directions. It just goes to show you: there's plenty of room for different perspectives on late-night TV.
  • Larry Wilmore has a lapel pin [9]. The number of people in this photo besides Larry Wilmore who have a lapel pin is zero.
  • James Corden has a pocket square [10], which matches his checkered tie [11]. The number of people in this photo besides James Corden who have pocket squares or checkered ties is zero. Makes you think.
  • John Oliver and James Corden are British. Trevor Noah was born in South Africa, which is like Britain in that it is a place that is not America. On late-night television, we acknowledge the existence of all sorts of places that are not America.
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  • Conan O'Brien is tall [12]. Like, super-tall. But on late-night television, we've developed cameras capable of filming just about anyone, regardless of their height.
  • John Oliver, Larry Wilmore, and Stephen Colbert are wearing eyeglasses [13, 14, 15]. The other hosts have perfect vision, or possibly contacts. Regardless, on late-night TV, all hosts are welcome to read the cue cards by any means they like.
  • Larry Wilmore is bald [16]; James Corden has a beard [17]. On late-night TV, we believe that the distribution of hair on the human head is a beautiful spectrum.
  • Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert are sitting on stools [18, 19]. Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, and Trevor Noah are sitting on chairs [20, 21, 22]. Everybody else? They're not sitting at all. It's fun to imagine how Johnny Carson, Jack Paar, or Steven Allen would have reacted to this rampant display of individuality.
  • Bill Maher wears a royal blue tie [23]. What?! Trevor Noah wears a pale blue tie [24], which matches his pale blue shirt [25]. Again: what?!
  • Almost all of these men are wearing what appear to be the same pair of black shoes, except Bill Maher, who is hiding his brown shoes in the back [26]. You don't need to hide your brown shoes anymore, Bill Maher. Not on late night.



Molly Fitzpatrick is senior editor of Fusion's Pop & Culture section. Her interests include movies about movies, TV shows about TV shows, and movies about TV shows, but not so much TV shows about movies.

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