The Late Night Landscape: Replacing the Late Night Highlander


Please email Stephen all of your movie, TV, and random entertainment questions:

I have looked at this picture several times over the course of the last year, and for some reason it feels current to me.  That is not the case, however, because this picture is almost 30 years old.  Aside from feeling recent, the other things that stick out in this picture are the clear affection that David Letterman has for Johnny Carson, and that Jay Leno is looking directly into camera in such a way that makes him seem detached from his surroundings.  Look, I wasn’t there for the picture, obviously, but that seems to be part of the catalyst that Letterman supporters focus on.

Stand-up comedians loved Carson because a nice word and a wave-over from him meant they had a career, and they admired him because he was a pioneer for something they aspired to be.  Those aspirations were to be beloved while maintaining so-called street cred at the same time.  The generation that grew up with Carson at the helm of the Tonight Show desk loved Johnny for the way that Hollywood veterans respected him and younger audiences wanted to be him, and the way that he was likeable and cool at the same time.  Letterman had those qualities at the time, and Leno tried to manufacture them.


A few years after that picture was taken, Carson stepped down as the Tonight Show host, and the late night television landscape undertook its most dramatic change in history.  Everyone wanted to tell Carson goodbye and be a part of honoring him on his way to retirement.  Yes, it was a way to pay respect to the man, but they also wanted to be one of the last guests that were among Johnny’s favorites.  That wasn’t the case with Leno’s recent retirement, but more on that in a minute.

Carson stepped down as the Tonight Show host in May of 1992, which set up the drastic change that late night underwent.  By the middle of 1993, CBS launched Late Night with David Letterman, Leno was still the new host of the Tonight Show, and Conan O’Brien took over Letterman’s old gig as host of Late Night on NBC.  That was the status quo from 1993 until 2009, when Conan O’Brien took over for Jay Leno (briefly) as the host of the Tonight Show.  That is what started the notion for me that even though there may be more hosts in that medium than ever, there will always be only one who earns that respect that Carson had from peers.

The debacle that involved Conan, Jay, and NBC masked the fact that neither of them was “the guy” whom they had both hoped to be.  It is and was always David Letterman, who, somewhat unwillingly, carried the torch that he’d hoped would have been handed to him by his mentor and friend Johnny.  The Jay vs. Dave debate was so enthralling that books and


movies exist about it, but it would never have been the story it was if so many people weren’t on the Letterman side.  He was already loved for his 10 years on Late Night, and he was the guy you wanted in Carson’s seat; Leno took it instead.

It is important to phrase it as “Leno took it,” too, because I’m not here to bash Jay for what he has accomplished in his career.  I’ve always been a Letterman guy, but Leno went hard for that job, always killed it in the ratings, and by all accounts was regarded as the best stand-up comedian among all of the guys he came up with, including Letterman, Robin Williams, and Jerry Seinfeld.  Please take a minute to let that last sentence sink in…Leno was the considered the best of all of them.  Hearing that sentiment from several different respected comedians, including Letterman himself, will never stop amazing me.

Yet, even with all of that on his résumé, Leno was never “the guy” among his peers.  I don’t think it started like that, but over time it grew into a Highlander situation where there was always going to be only one guy at the top of the respect food chain.  Yes, there was a touching tribute to Jay when he stepped down, but even that tribute wasn’t as big as the news of David Letterman just announcing his unexpected retirement on air.  We only have about 50 shows left with Dave, and when his run ends there will be a noticeable difference between the turnout and emotions surrounding him and the send-offs for Jay Leno.  That is because David Letterman took over Carson’s reign as the “Late Night Highlander,” even though he went to a different network.

20th Century FOX
20th Century FOX

With Letterman’s run as the Late Night Highlander coming to an end, we are approaching another dramatic change to the late night landscape in the near future.  Jimmy Fallon is now firmly entrenched as the ratings leader with The Tonight Show, and it will be hard to imagine that changing anytime soon.  He does things better than his competition, but it is still early in his run.  Soon there will be a three-headed monster competing for ratings with Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and the eventual Letterman replacement Stephen Colbert.  Once all three of them have firm footing under them, the battle for ratings is going to be excellent. But who is going to gain the cult following to take Dave’s place as the Highlander?

It is something that is fascinating, since it appears that this happens organically.  The same fear and respect that young stand-ups had with Carson, they now have with Letterman, and that too evolved over time.  An endorsement from


Letterman carries with it a weight unlike anything currently in show business.  The reason that it carries this weight is that every comedian knows that Dave is not only a legend, but funnier than they are.  If you can sit across from Dave and make him laugh, that is an incredible feat.  He has never placated to anyone, and if he doesn’t like a person, he is notorious for going hard at them.  Who is filling that void when he leaves?  Let’s examine.

Jimmy Fallon:


Fallon is under the blanket of Lorne Michaels, so that is an immediate advantage out of the gate, but that isn’t the reason why Jimmy leads in the ratings.  The way his show is built may seem forced from time to time, but with his SNL chops and pure entertainer ability, the show is built to be an internet juggernaut with 4- to 6-minute clips that regularly average 30 million views on YouTube.  The remarkable thing is the consistency with which the show produces viral hits, which is clearly not a coincidence.  Fallon is set up to succeed better than anyone with his famous friends, like Justin Timberlake, and the best band (by FAR) among his competition with The Roots.  Adding to that are his musical and comedic chops that allow him to participate in things like The History of Rap, or go toe-to-toe with his fellow SNL alumni. He has to be the early odds-on favorite.

Among the cons, though, are that several comedians don’t respect him, and say that his personality is manufactured.  He is overly excited about everything, and that tends to rub some people the wrong way.  Part of that is jealously, I’m sure, but if he is going to rise to Highlander status, his relaxed nature might get in the way.  How can you fear someone who tries so hard to get everyone to like him?  He gets plenty of respect, but will his show be a rite of passage for young comedians the way Letterman is, and Carson was?  I’m not sure, but it’s a fair question to ask, since that is the strongest selling point for anyone who takes the mantle.

Stephen Colbert: 

Comedy Central
Comedy Central

Colbert is the only wildcard in the bunch, since he has not yet made his late night network debut.  Sure, he was great on The Colbert Report, but he was playing a character on that show.  The risk that CBS is taking is huge, and I’ll explain why.  Colbert has been hired to replace a legend, which is a daunting task by itself, but even though they have hired a TV veteran, they are hiring one that most of America has never seen due to not falling in his demographic on Comedy Central, or having never seen the real Stephen Colbert outside of the show.  By all accounts, he is a genuinely nice and funny guy, but the lights at CBS are going to burn brighter on him than they ever did on Comedy Central, so he doesn’t have time to get his feet wet gradually.  He HAS to hit the ground running.

The excitement from his loyal Colbert Report fans is legit, but when he stops doing that character, will he lose that fan base, and if so, how long does it take for him to gain a new fan base?  If Colbert comes out of the gates on fire, then he has a shot to become relevant quickly since nobody will run away from him in the ratings (YouTube is a different story), but there is no way for us to judge his Late Night Highlander status until seeing him in action.  As of right now, he is like a lurking wild card team in the NFL playoffs.  He’s got a spot in the playoffs, but is he going to get hot at the right time and take that to the title, or get blown out in the first round?  We will find out in a few months.

Jimmy Kimmel:


To me, he is the odds-on favorite for Late Night Highlander status.  What Kimmel lacks in the “entertainer” department he makes up for with pure hosting talent and comedy chops.  Kimmel has some of the same personality traits that made Letterman the best.  He’s not afraid to go after someone that he doesn’t care for, he has a close knit group of friends who have been loyal to the show, and he has made his friends and family part of his staff and uses them on the show.  When you tune in to a Letterman show, you know the regulars like Paul and Biff and even Rupert, so it’s a smart move on Jimmy’s part to include that element, but with him you honestly get the feeling that it’s more loyalty to them for being there than it is exploiting them.

The reason that I think Kimmel is the favorite over Fallon is the fear aspect that I think will happen naturally over time.  The one question (potential problem) is that that Kimmel was never a stand-up act and doesn’t have them on the show.  The rite of passage for the last 40 years as a stand-up comedian has entailed a good set on Carson and then a good set on Letterman.  That tradition is going to move to a new host and I think that goes a long way in how the Late Night Highlander will be selected.

I’m not sure which of those three gentlemen will rise to fill the Late Night Highlander void that Dave is leaving behind, but I know that ratings won’t be the only relevant factor.  Leno consistently beat Letterman in the ratings, but in action and deeds and words from celebrities and peers, it is very clear that Letterman had that title, and that it wasn’t close.

The great thing about the late night landscape changing this year is that all of the things we are discussing will happen in front of our faces on network television.  It’s the biggest change that we have gone through in the genre, and that is without even discussing the fact that Conan still has a show (does he go to FOX when his TBS agreement expires?), and Jon Stewart is leaving one of the most coveted jobs on cable TV.  This year is going to be exciting, and I am personally excited to see how it plays out.  I’m very sad that Letterman is leaving his show, but I am also secretly excited about the possibility of Paul Shaffer writing a book.  If anyone knows everything that happened with Letterman, Leno, NBC, Carson, CBS, and even old SNL stories, it is Paul.  If he writes a book, then take all of my money now.

Stephen Balding is the Entertainment Badass for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenB_41.


The Snowpacalypse Mailbag (Featuring Keanu Reeves in Titanic 2)


Please email Stephen all of your movie, TV, and random entertainment questions:

The last two weeks in the DFW area have entailed sleet, snow, thunder-sleet, a snowman that my daughter and I built and named Snowtorious B.I.G.,  mayhem, closed roads, closed schools, and legions of bored people being forced to stay inside away from the elements.  With that being said, that would have given me plenty of time to watch movies and catch up on TV shows that I’ve missed, but I spent that time just like you did.  I was stuck indoors by the fire, with a restless six-year-old, watching old episodes of Teen Titans Go and Lalaloopsy, which is fun, but not really great for the creativity gland.

So instead of running through a Teen Titan power ranking, which would easily have Cyborg at number one, I decided to go through mailbag questions to finally provide answers to questions that I’ve had in my inbox for a long time now.


Do you have any predictions on the biggest movie of the year? Seems like Avengers is going to be the biggest one by far, but will there be another surprise actor or actress like Chris Pratt coming out of nowhere?

Jacob – Lake Worth, Texas

Excellent question, Jacob!  I agree with you that Avengers: Age of Ultron is going to be a HUGE movie when it comes out on May 1st, and might even manage to top The Avengers in the box office thanks to the continued success of the stand-alone movies.


On top of that, Avengers: Age of Ultron is introducing comicbook staples Vision, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver into the Marvel Movie Universe, which will provide a different feel than what we have seen before.  Combine those two things with the news that Sony and Marvel have reached an agreement which allows Spider-Man to appear in Marvel movies (also the rumor that he might appear post credits), and Marvel Studios is getting ready to take over the summer.

That, however, doesn’t mean that they will be taking over the year, or that a newcomer from the movie will make a Chris Pratt-like rise to the Hollywood A-list.  For all of the money and recognition that this recent run of Marvel success has generated, there is always the fanboy Holy Grail lurking that originated back in 1977 called Star Wars.  You may have heard of it.  This December, there will be an awakening in The Force that is going to break box offices across the world.  JJ Abrams has taken over the Star Wars reins, and is poised to carry on the modern version of the universe in a way that George Lucas could not.  I have absolute faith in JJ Abrams and think that Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is going to be a fantastic start that renews the franchise.


Episode VII is where I think the next breakout star is coming from, as well.  Oscar Isaac is getting set to take on the Star Wars and X-Men franchises over the next two years, with pivotal roles in both.  Not only is he taking great parts in what will surely be hugely popular movies, but it just so happens that Oscar Isaac is a freaking phenomenal actor, as well!  He has the dramatic chops to take the Pratt baton and sprint past him on the way to even bigger success.

Also, while we are on the subject, can we stop acting like Chris Pratt is the first one to make a rise like this off of a comic book movie?  How quickly everyone forgets that Robert Downey Jr. was the second lead in Charlie Bartlett the year before Ironman came out.  Yeah, he clearly had success prior, but way prior, and not in quite some time.  Even Captain Snowpiercer himself, Chris Evans, was coming off of the Fantastic Four shit sandwich, and was making movies like The Losers before Marvel came calling.  It’s happened before Pratt, and it’s going to happen after Isaac, which is a good sign of things to come if you are a fan of this genre.

Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?

Jessica – Dallas, Texas

Give me a blindfold, two carrots, and three ninja stars, and then bring on that horse sized duck!


comicbook wiki
Teen Titans Go – Cartoon Network

What are your thoughts on The Walking Dead, and what are you excited for on television this year?

Chris – Lewisville, Texas

That is a great question, Chris, and one that I could ramble on about for 2000 words, but I’ll spare you that and just give you my short answer.  I love what new showrunner Scott Gimple has done this season with The Walking Dead, and I think the show has never been in a better place overall.

The Walking Dead – AMC

The Alexandria Safe Zone is going to be somewhere where good and bad stuff takes place, but I don’t get the feeling that it’s going to turn into another Governor situation where someone takes over and rides along for about 13 episodes too long.  There are only a few episodes left this season, and after that I will write my thoughts on the season, the show, and the spinoff coming this fall, both of which I am excited about.  As for the rest of this season, I think there will be some crazy shit go down and if ***mild spoiler*** Sunday is any indicator, Rick is about to squeeze the head off of a bunny.  I could not be more excited for the rest of the season.


As for the rest of the television landscape that I’m excited about, it would have to be the excellent and very original FOX show Last Man on Earth which debuted two weeks ago.  Will Forte has somehow been allowed to air something original and extremely funny on a network station, and now is a great time to jump on board if you haven’t.

How badass is John Wick?!  Is Keanu Reeves making a Matrix style comeback?

Julie – Waco, Texas

First off Julie, John Wick is the mother f**king man!  I cannot get enough of that movie and Keanu punching people in the face with bullets.  I’m going on record as saying that John Wick is getting a sequel, and it will be a big hit in the theaters this time.  As for the comeback, The Matrix was 15 years ago, and at the time Keanu was a weird mix between a dark, brooding romantic lead like in Feeling Minnesota and A Walk in the Clouds.  He was semi-action star with Speed, and to an extent in Chain Reaction.  And finally, he was a periodic attempt at a legit dramatic actor with Dracula and Devil’s Advocate, so it makes sense that he was cast to play Neo because The Matrix had some elements of all those things.

Lions Gate films
Lions Gate Films

The originality of the first movie made it something of a cult hit and pop culture phenomenon all at the same time, and Keanu was really good in it; for that matter, he was good in the other two, it’s not because of him that the last two failed.  Of course Hollywood wanted to bank on the popularity, but if they would have stopped after the first, how differently would we look at it?  John Wick is going to have a sequel at some point, but it will be different from The Matrix because the character won’t be tied to a singular environment?  I mean, who doesn’t want to watch John Wick back in the game full-time so he can drive muscle cars and bullet-punch assholes that get in his way?  For that matter, I would be happy to make John Wick a Jedi Knight, a member of the X-Men, the ass-kicking lead in a remake of The Notebook, or even have him star in “Titanic 2: Fuck That Iceberg,”  where John Wick scuba dives to the bottom of the ocean and drives the sunken Titanic back to the surface for revenge. How great would that final scene be when he looks the iceberg in the face and says “Ice cubes, bitch“?

As for Keanu himself making some sort of comeback…I’m torn, because it’s not like he really went away, but he did pump the brakes a little bit after the three Matrix movies.  If history has taught us anything it’s that the next couple of movies from him will involve him being a misunderstood detective trying to save someone who may or may not need his help, a lawyer, or some variety of law professional, and one or more of the movies will entail a bad accent.  Never forget that Keanu is the master of the terrible accent and nobody else is even close to him.

What was your favorite childhood video game?

Kenneth – Houston, Texas

Mike Tyson’s Punchout and it’s not even close.  Play it today and tell me that old games are too easy for kids.  Your Call of Duty kid has no chance of beating Mike Tyson and if you think I’m wrong, then here is the code to jump right to fighting Tyson.  Pass Key: 007 373 5963.  If your kid can beat Tyson in the first 5 attempts, then send me the video and I will post it in a column and say very nice things about your kid.


Do you believe in Aliens?

Jason – Keller, Texas

Stop asking me stupid questions, Jason.


Ok folks, the sun is actually out and there are plenty of movies to watch, so keep sending in your questions and I’ll make sure to answer them from time to time.  Thank you for the questions this week and remember to live your life a quarter mile at a time.

Stephen Balding is the Entertainment Badass for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenB_41.

The Single Man’s Guide to 50 Shades of Grey (Or a Brief History of Robotics)


Please email Stephen all of your movie, TV, and random entertainment questions:

WARNING: I am going to spoil the shit out of this movie, so if you haven’t seen it and still want to, then stop reading this right now and come back when you have watched. This piece also comes with a language warning, well, because of obvious reasons. You know what this movie is about, right?

I should win an award for the things I do for you fine people. As a social experiment, and a little out of curiosity, I talked my friend into going with me to see 50 Shades of Grey last week. Luckily, she was nice enough to say yes, because there was no way I was walking into what I thought was going to be 90 minutes of porn by myself. This isn’t the 70s for crying out loud; I could get arrested for something like that. So, with my trusty writing book in tow to take a few notes, we ventured into a near empty theater at 7:00pm on a Tuesday night.

A couple of disclaimers here…

First, I honestly went into this movie with an open mind about what I was going to see. I have been surprised by several movies that I had low expectations for, so I try not to be too cynical when it comes to these things.

Second, I knew practically nothing about the movie other than pieces of the plot from the trailer and what has been told to me by women I have asked who read the books.

Finally, I did suspect this would be a bad movie for two reasons. Reason one is that prior to this movie, the lead Jamie

Dornan has been around since 2006, and only has 12 IMDB credits to his name, most of those being TV credits. That didn’t mean he would be bad in it, but everyone knew this movie was going to do well in the box office, so to not be able to get a name to star in it says a lot about the script. (Editor’s Note: Had the original lead, Charlie Hunnam, continued on with the role of Christian Grey, I would’ve been the first in line on opening day. But, I digress. -JK)

Reason two is that the movie had a huge opening weekend at $93 million, and followed that up by dropping to $23 million by the second weekend. If you follow movies, you know that is a very bad sign, and incidentally that total dropped even more the third weekend to $10 million. Do you know what happens when a good movie opens strong? The word gets out that it is really good, and not only do more people go see it, but people go to a second viewing of the movie, and that is very much the opposite of what happened here.

So now that we have that out of the way, I present to you my experience with 50 Shades of Grey in a nearly empty theater at 7:00pm last Tuesday.

I was at the theater early enough to see some of the commercials before the movie, and which were all geared towards a female audience. It was mostly makeup ads, with a “eat this yogurt and you’ll poop normal” ad sprinkled in. We were off to a rousing start.  I was beginning to think I might be starting menopause and we hadn’t even reached the previews yet.

After a few generic love story previews, one male stripper movie preview, and the “we know you men were forced here, so here is something to shut you up for 5 minutesStar Wars preview, we were finally into the movie.

It opens in the apartment of two women named Ana (the female lead – I knew this from the trailer, and because of appearance on SNL) and Kate, who is sick and can’t make it to an interview. The idea of Kate working as a writer for the school newspaper (they are apparently both college seniors) is very much a stretch. She is the oldest college senior I have ever seen, but hey, I can suspend disbelief for a movie; I think Batman could plausibly happen in real life.

So Kate asks Ana if she understands something, to which Ana quips, “I have a 4.0 GPA, I think I understand.” Are you fucking kidding me!?! There is suspending disbelief and then there is just plain ridiculous. I’m already upset at the script and the plot and we aren’t even past the opening credits yet. I calm myself and hope for better chemistry when she makes it to this interview. She better not screw this up, or her 30 year old college roommate will never forgive her.

There is a forced shot of Ana with her hair in a sensible ponytail, but something tells me that is just setting up a shot later in the movie when she takes it down. I’m calling it now. Ana appears to have an overwhelmed expression on her face when


she sees the tall building with Grey Industries on it. I only say “appears” because Dakota Johnson appears to be a robot so far, and this has me legitimately excited. Is this movie science fiction and I just hadn’t heard? I will take back everything I have ever said about this movie if Ana turns out to be a Replicant.

Another scene is forced on the audience with elevator doors opening into a pretty regular office. This entire movie is just about a reveal, and they are telegraphing it at every turn. If your movie is using elevators to signal plot points, then you might want to take another crack at the script. Ok, so now she is in the office and the secretary says “Mr. Grey will see you now,” and proceeds to walk her back to his office. Why is nobody mentioning the receptionist in all of this bondage stuff, because she is clearly into weird things?

In the next few minutes we meet Christian Grey, and they have an exchange that can only be described as robots learning how to say human things. The office itself is nice with a great view, but I can’t help but focus on anything other than the pencils on his desk. This guy is a 27-year-old billionaire with a set of pencils like he is a first grader? That is the most offensive thing in this movie, by far, however, Billionaire Pencil Set would be a good name for a band. As for the rest of the scene, it is robots talking, forced chemistry, forced plot “I’m very singular in what I like,” and cliché after cliché after cliché like, “I’m really good at business,” and “You don’t want to know about me, I’m nobody.”

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

At this point in the movie I am ready to check out and take a nap until it dawns on me who Ana is: She is grown up Vicki the Robot from Small Wonder. How exciting that she is grown up and is getting some work in the movie business! From now on, Ana Steele will be known as Vicki the Robot.

They finish robot flirting and then it is back to the elevator for a series of Mr. Grey and Ms. Steele’s and I have already had enough of elevator plots.

For a movie that is supposed to be controversial, it is failing to meet expectations. Ana/Vicki walks out of the building into the rain to insinuate she needs a cold shower, but I swear it seemed like something straight out of the CW. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for Pacey to show up, but I quickly focused back on the movie because I didn’t want to wait (you are welcome for the Dawson’s Creek joke).  50 Shades of Grey is just a couple of plot points from being a hit tween drama on the CW, just take out the bondage and add in a quirky friend and I smell a hit.

A few minutes later we see Vicki the Robot doing more human things, like working at a hardware store stocking shelves.  Out of nowhere, Christian appears and asks her for help assembling the props needed for his independent movie about Ted Bundy.  I think this is meant to be a nice moment, but he is just as much a robot as she is, so it just comes across as him being a stalker. Like a legit crazy stalker who she just met and he follows her to work to buy an attack-murdering kit.

Huge red flag here, right ladies? … Ladies? … You’re still ok with this?  Is it because he’s a billionaire with abs?  Sigh … Let’s move on.


A strange photo shoot, a weird meal, and few more stalker tendencies lead us back to the apartment of the two women, where a package arrives for Vicki. It contains a bunch of first edition books, because she is an English Lit major with a 4.0 GPA who




Sorry, that was me smashing my head on my keyboard to help with the whole suspending disbelief thing.  So to celebrate graduation, the roommates go to a bar where Vicki pretends to be good at human drinking and drunk dials the billionaire attack-murderist.  If you change the music here and a plot point, this becomes a Lifetime movie about a woman fighting for her life against a stalker.

She calls Christian…look, I just can’t keep typing Christian anymore.  It is a made up name and a very bad one at that. We need a counterpart to Vicki the Robot, but who will make him appear as less than a stalker?

Got it!

Lucas Films
Lucas Films

Now, where were we? Vicki calls C-3PO, who of course shows up 5 minutes later because she is drunk and might make out with some guy, which never happens in college. He arrives just in time, too, because a friend tells her that he likes her, 3PO shoves him out of the way, and she faints like she is in a Tele Novella.  Vicki wakes up the next day in a strange bed, in new clothes, and wonders if they had human sex when she was human drunk the night before. He assures her they didn’t, takes his shirt off, and kisses her. She is somehow still not picking up on all of these red flags he is dropping, but there is still time.

The next 19 hours of the movie is a weird date where C-3PO sweeps her away by helicopter 9 minutes back to Seattle, tells her that he has no emotion whatsoever (I f*ck hard and don’t wake up next to women), and then shows her the next step in her getting attack-murdered.  A secluded room which is called “the red room,” you know like Red Dawn or the Red Wedding or RED FUCKING FLAGS or anything else named red that involves a lot of murdering.


She later reveals that she is a virgin, so he makes an exception on sleeping in the same bed and not f*cking hard. They fall asleep together and she wakes up and cooks him breakfast. If you took that last sentence and sent it to the police, they would immediately produce a search warrant to save her from inevitable domestic violence.


A random thought I had during this movie, which involved a lot of Mr. Grey and Ms. Steele back and forth, was that if the writer didn’t have at least a second of irony when typing GreySteele, then she needs to retire.

I’ll save you some time here. 90% of the rest of the movie is a step-by-step red flag indicator for all of the ladies out there who date.  It’s also why I cannot believe this book and movie are such a huge hits. He tells her about what he is into (bondage/domination) and then spends the rest of the movie frantically stalking her, showing up in her house uninvited (literally inside the house when she didn’t know he was there), and trying to get her to research the weird sex stuff. They could have just named the movie Christian Grey: Tryin to Fuck and it would be the same thing. The only reason I can explain its success is that he is a billionaire with billionaire pencils and that is woman porn.

That is literally the rest of the movie! They go over a sex agreement like some weird version of Leonard and Sheldon, he gives her a sneak peek at the attack-murder room (complete with room-specific cargo jeans), and he plays sad Hulk music in the middle of the night after they have sex.

This is where I’m calling BS on every woman that has told me that it is a good love story and not about the sex.  The plot that runs through this movie essentially reveals why C-3PO is so sad and messed up. Would you like to know what these reasons are?  I’m so glad you asked, they are as follows:

Sexually abused as a teenager
He was a crack baby
Cigarettes were put out on him
He bought pencils as a billionaire!!!

They play around for a while, with her slowly coming around to the fact that billionaire and these red flags are a lot to ignore, which leads to the climactic ending of the first of (ugh!!!) three movies. Vicki the Robot demands that C-3PO show her the worst of it! What is the worst that could happen? I’ll tell you what the worst is! He whoops the shit out of her with 7 lashes from a giant belt, all the while making her count off each one. This is the point where she starts crying, doesn’t want him to touch her ever again, and is leaving!


She is getting her stuff and getting ready to leave, but he chases her at the last minute to…don’t you do it movie, don’t you show that damned elevator again…doors close. Mr. Grey, Ms. Steele.

Ok, this isn’t the worst movie that I have ever seen (very close), but enough is enough, women. Stop telling men that it is a good story and not just about the sex. That is a straight up lie and you know how I know it’s a lie?  Because never in the history of anything has a good story involved a sexually-abused-crack-baby-turned-billionaire trying to tie up ladies. You have fooled yourself about this story and it’s time to come out of the sex closet and admit that is why you like this book. I promise you won’t get judgment if you will only admit that it is a terrible story. Men do this all of the time, it’s not the end of the world. Why do you think Baywatch was on the air so many years? Embrace it women, you’ll be glad you did.

Stephen Balding is the Entertainment Badass for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenB_41.