The Break With Michelle Wolf Lacks Her Bite But It Has Potential

Hot off of her controversial White House Press Association appearance, Michelle Wolf has launched a new talk show on Netflix. In The Break with Michelle Wolf, the former Daily Show and Late Night with Seth Meyers writer puts herself center stage, quite literally.

The show’s set is basically Ellen after dark. Where Ellen’s set is light and white, Michelle’s is a soothing navy blue meant to invoke the time just after the sun goes down. In her introduction, Wolf greets the audience by saying “good evening,” indicating she considers this a nighttime talk show. Netflix, however, doesn’t care that I watched this on Sunday morning — they make the show available all day long because appointment viewing is not a thing anymore. All of that, plus the standard-issue talk show host desk, indicate this is going to be a pretty traditional show.

The show’s format sticks pretty tightly to talk show style as well. Wolf opens with a standing monologue in some silver sneakers that make me wish there were more full-length shots of her, and gives us the modus operandi of the show: to make fun of everything and everyone. Wolf also makes it clear this isn’t going to be an intellectual comedy, a la John Oliver or Samantha Bee, nor will it necessarily all be political. It’s called The Break because it’s supposed to be a comedic break from the unrelenting news cycle that soundtracks our slow march towards death, which is a cheerful thought.

The problem with doing a late night format on a once a week show that doesn’t actually air late at night is that several of Wolf’s jokes are out of date already, replaced by more insane news about the same things. Her joke about Elon Musk needing to invent himself a girlfriend of the same age feels off, given that this morning my Twitter feed is full of people freaking out about Elon Musk’s latest comments on the press. The recurring Alexa videos, where the device demands lunch meat that is based the news about Alexa spontaneously laughing feels light-years away from the latest news cycle about Alexa spying on a couple and sending their conversation out to a random person in their contacts. And, in both instances, the news was way more outrageous (and funny) than the sketches on Wolf’s show. The problem isn’t that Wolf’s jokes aren’t funny, it’s that they’re totally lacking in substance, when substance is now what we expect from her.

Let’s get to what you really want to know: did she talk about Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Yeah, it came up — briefly. It turns out, that host desk is for her Daily Show -esque talking to the camera with key art segments. In a bit with graphics that probably would have been funnier if I watched Sports Center, Wolf cites a tweet from Sanders that gets feminism so insanely wrong that Wolf is vindicated for everything she said about Aunt Lydia ….er, Sanders. Then, to drive home her point, Wolf tells us being a feminist doesn’t mean blindly supporting all women and gives us a list of five women she’s not supporting this week — Sanders doesn’t make the cut, which is a pretty good, lowkey burn.

The best part of the show comes when she rolls out a couch to speak to her guest, who for this week is her fellow comedian and former co-worker, Amber Ruffin. It’s good because their chemistry is an A+ but also because the topic is how to talk to women who don’t want to have kids — a topic that is near and dear to my heart, because IT ME. In this segment, it feels like Wolf is actually exploring something that people don’t talk about and should be talking about more often. I love that their reasons for not wanting kids aren’t about the environment or money struggles, but all jokes. It illustrates the point: it doesn’t matter why a woman doesn’t want kids. She doesn’t have to have lofty goals or be making a sacrifice not to procreate, some of us just aren’t interested, and that’s FINE THANK YOU.

The moment where Wolf, with or without a guest, takes on the things no one is talking about is a hell of a lot funnier and more engaging than five minutes of jokes about a grocery store refusing to write cum on a cake when every local newscaster in the country has been there and done that.Hot off the heels of her controversial White House Press Association appearance, Michelle Wolf has launched a new talk show on Netflix. In The Break with Michelle Wolf, the former Daily Show and Late Night with Seth Meyers writer puts herself centerstage, quite literally.

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