Busy Philipps’s late-night show is coming to an end after just one season. On Thursday night, Philipps said goodbye to Busy Tonight with the help of five guests, lots of crying, and an invitation to roast her. Only one person was brave enough to accept the challenge. Busy Tonight’s final guests: Linda Cardellini, who Philipps says is the reason she took the job on Freaks and Geeks that changed her life; Michelle Williams, Philipps’s BFF and former co-star; and Jennifer Carpenter, who wore a pair of enviable metallic silver pants. Christa Miller and Whitney Cummings also squeezed onto the couch.
The vibe was kind of a bummer. The six women spent most of the time reflecting on the ups and downs of their careers—Cardellini, who’s been acting since the ’90s, is having a moment thanks to her new Netflix show—and thanking each other for years of support and friendship. When Cummings came out, Philipps asked her if she would ever do a talk show again, and Cummings said, “Uh, not on E!” (Both Busy Tonight and Cummings’s former talk show, Love You, Mean It, were broadcast on E! and both were cancelled with just one season under their belt.) “If there only was a network that had the same creative vision as Michael’s Crafts,” she went on.
Busy Tonight was always meant to feel like viewers were somehow privy to a late-night gab session between close friends who happen to be celebrities, but it rarely did; even when Philipps had Williams on the show earlier in the season, the conversation felt forced and awkward. Certainly, as a first-time talk-show host, Philipps was trying to prove herself, but the always-on attitude she brought to the show felt like it detracted from potentially more substantive or meaningful conversations she could have been having with her guests. Not that the funny moments weren’t funny, but they were sometimes unintentionally funny, like when Williams let slip that she didn’t know “Singles Ladies” was a Beyoncé song until she heard it in a Zumba class. Those were the kind of things you couldn’t plan for or produce by making the set look like an Urban Outfitters-decorated living room.
By its nature, the series finale felt like an obligatory celebration of Philipps as both a professional and personal friend. When Philipps asked her guests to either toast or roast her, almost all of them chose the former. But really, more roasting would’ve been the best way to go out and a fun way to highlight Busy’s shortcomings in a congratulatory setting. Williams mentioned that she told her daughter “Aunt Biz needs me,” and asked if it would be okay if she missed the beginning of her daughter’s school play’s opening night to come on the show. (Her daughter, who seems very cool for a young person, said of course.) Philipps and Williams both held back tears.
The finale did have some of those unintentionally hilarious moments: Cummings came in with the one roast of the night, which was that she knew she would be friends with Philipps when Philipps saw her not wearing makeup one time and said Cummings looked like one of her ex-boyfriends.
Earlier this month, in an Instagram video, Philipps said she was looking for another home for her show.