Over the past few weeks the 10 O’clock has had a critical kicking for numerous reasons – contrived student politics; garish vomit-inducing set; audience entirely made up of twats; just not funny – but most of the opprobrium has been reserved for Lauren Laverne, the sole female host.
In all quarters of the media, from blogs to newspaper reviews, she has been referred to as the ‘token girl’ (including by one columnist who has in the past described herself as a feminist) – the implication being that because she is a young, attractive female she can’t possibly be on the show on merit.
A quick look at the three male hosts’ CVs: Jimmy Carr – stand-up comedian and panel show host/regular; Charlie Brooker – TV Critic and panel show host/regular and David Mitchell – sitcom actor and panel show host/regular.
Whilst it may be true that Laverne is not a professional comedian, for the past five years she has presented The Culture Show, making her the most experienced of the four in dealing with highbrow topics and guests, and therefore adds some gravitas to proceedings. She is also the only one of the four who has any experience of anchoring a live show, presenting the BBC’s coverage of Glastonbury Festival among others.
Contrived student politics; garish vomit-inducing set; audience entirely made up of twats; just not funny
If anything Jimmy Carr is the odd on out as he has no previous experience of political commentary or debate.
There are also numerous hypothetical arguments to consider: would an older female presenter or comedian – Kirsty Wark or Jo Brand for example – have received the same treatment? If there were four male hosts and one of them wasn’t a comedian by trade would they have been singled out? And if it was three female presenters with one male host would have been described as the ‘token male’ or is it more likely he would be considered the main host?
Following the recent Sky Sports scandal there was much self-righteousness in the press about how sexism was obviously something that was inherent in the world of Football, however it’s seems that broadsheet columnists and critics are equally guilty of it too.
She may not be funny and her some of her features may have been cringe worthy, but the show as a whole is clearly less than the sum of its parts – that has nothing to do with her gender.
With so many faults to pick at, to describe Lauren Laverne as the ‘token female’ is just incredibly lazy journalism.
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