Bill Maher was quick to address the recent controversy surrounding him using the n-word on Friday night’s new episode of Real Time, opening with a joke about the audience “letting a sinner into their midst.” What followed after that was a show that was certainly awkward, and one that may not have done enough to erase some of what happened.
The more relevant part of the show came when Maher sat down with Michael Eric Dyson, who did his best to put some of Maher’s own comments in perspective. We will acknowledge for a moment that Maher didn’t shy away from the controversy, and ran more towards it than away from it. Was he contrite enough? That’s where the controversy lies, since he was defense at times but did still offer up more regret:
“I did a bad thing … For black folks, that word has caused pain. I’m not here to do that. That’s why I apologized freely, and why I reiterated it tonight.”
The big truth of the matter here is that if you were one of those people calling for Maher to be fired, tonight would’ve been the time for him to come out and announce that this was his last show. That didn’t happen. From here, HBO will likely make it a ratings decision. While there were clearly audience members present to greet Bill on his show tonight, will viewers be there, as well? Even though the network does gauge their success stories on subscribers and buzz more than viewers, this should offer up an indication as to the sort of pull Bill truly has. Also, remember that if they were actively losing subscribers because of his comments, that would also be a problem; the issue there for many may be that in canceling out Maher, they would be losing access to other shows like The Leftovers, Veep, Silicon Valley, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver a little bit later this summer.
Maher’s story may not be completely over, since this could all be revisited whenever there is another contract to sign. For the time being, though, consider this the end of the current saga since this was the time that something big could’ve happened.
Do you think HBO and Maher did enough to handle the Bill Maher situation in the aftermath of what originally happened? Share in the comments!