Robin Thede Debuts to Strong Critical Reviews on BET Late Night

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Robin Thede stepped onto the late-night television stage on BET last night, filling an enormous hole by becoming the only black woman in a genre dominated by white men.

And she was fantastic.

With a GIF attack on Donald Trump, a pop-up concert in a bodega, and funny takes on topics ranging from Eminem to the NFL, Thede announced herself with a fluid, punchy half hour that critics loved.

“Thede is charismatic, funny, and unabashed in her beliefs,” wrote John Hugar in Splitsider

Indeed, the Chris Rock-produced show is hilarious. Thede, the former head writer for Comedy Central’s Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, opened with a ridiculous skit in which she attempts to seduce an attractive Trump supporter with increasingly absurd props, from a Make America Great Again hat to a Confederate flag tattoo.

Watch:

It was a solid introduction to a solid first episode, and it gave us a sense of Thede’s irreverent, unconventional approach.

“…[Thede] has an energy all her own: a little dark, but also mischievous and, at times, winkingly conspiratorial, even when she’s covering heavy material,” said Laura Bradley in Vanity Fair.

The core of the show is the namesake “Rundown,” in which Thede gives takes on recent news stories in rapid succession. In her debut, she jogged through Eminem’s volcanic and viral freestyle denouncing President Trump at the BET Awards earlier this week, an NFL coach snorting cocaine just before a team meeting, ESPN’s suspension of Jemele Hill, and brain damage in NFL players.

It worked. “Thede has a kinetic delivery; she strolled onstage to roll through a titular ‘Rundown’ that was one joke piled on top another,” wrote Darren Franich in EW.

“ … the Rundown gives Thede the freedom to really feel the material,” Ashley Ray-Harris agreed in a glowing review in AV Club. “A late-night show is only as strong as the host and Thede didn’t convey any debut jitters here, seamlessly transitioning from Eminem to Jemele Hill to brain damage in the NFL with effortless timing.”

Thede wrapped the show with a joyous boogie session alongside Los Angeles up-and-comer Duckwrth and a nod to Barack and Michelle Obama’s 25th anniversary – parlaying the former first lady’s exasperation with Donald Trump into a rollicking indirect video critique of the president.

“The most impressive thing about The Rundown is how well-developed it is already,” wrote John Hugar in Splitsider “If Thede hadn’t mentioned that it was the show’s premiere episode, it would have been hard to tell.”

Thede will be back Thursday nights at 11 p.m. ET. It is one of several new or newish shows stamping BET’s lineup, including the behind-the-scenes world of The Comedy Get Down, celebrity-led gameshow Face Value, hip-hop anthology Tales, a 10-part reality series following Gucci Mane and Keyshia Ka-oir The Mane Event, and 50 Central starring rapper and actor 50 Cent.

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