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Desus & Mero's Series Finale with Mike Francesa Was TV's Most New York Thing

If that doesn't mean anything to you, you need to read this

Liam Mathews

Desus & Mero, the No. 1 show for nothing but illustrious guests, got its most illustrious guest ever for the series finale of the Viceland talk show: the pope himself, New York sports radio icon Mike Francesa.

This is almost surely gibberish to anyone outside of the New York metropolitan area (as well as many people within the New York metropolitan area), so I'll try to explain it as best I can. Desus Nice and The Kid Mero are two guys from the Bronx who were so funny on Twitter that Complex gave them a podcast (first it was Desus vs. Mero, then they went independent with Bodega Boys, which is still active). They were so funny on the podcast that they got their own late night show on Viceland. Then they were so funny on Viceland that they signed a deal with Showtime to create the network's first late night show. So last night's episode of Desus & Mero was the final one (on Viceland, at least).

Meanwhile, Mike Francesa has been the voice of New York sports talk radio since 1987. His confrontational bloviating was Twitter before Twitter existed. He speaks for every grouchy middle-aged, middle-class white man in the Tri-State area. He's like apolitical Trump. He's even more Long Island than Billy Joel. This on-air meltdown about the Giants disrespecting Eli Manning should tell you what you need to know about Mike Francesa.

Desus and Mero grew up listening to Francesa, because everyone in New York and its suburbs' dad listened to him, and so they're understandably obsessed with him. Mero does an incredible impression of Francesa on Bodega Boys as an angry, lazy Diet Coke-addicted racist. He doesn't do the Francesa impression to Francesa's face in the interview, which is a little disappointing, but Desus does ask about the Diet Cokes. If Francesa eventually finds out about Mero's impression, he'll probably be mad, but I hope he'll know it comes from a place of love.

For Bodega Boys and Desus & Mero fans, Mike Francesa appearing on the final episode of the show is like if Bill O'Reilly appeared on the final episode of The Colbert Report, only better, because Francesa isn't a monster. Last year, Francesa didn't know who they were. Now he's part of the Bodega Hive.

Desus, Mero and Francesa are all deeply New York personalities that represent different sections of the region's rich tapestry. They're from geographically, culturally and racially different parts of New York, but they have a kinship as true New Yorkers who never compromised their identities. In fact, their regional hyperspecificity is an integral part of what made them successful. Regional culture declines a little bit every day as life moves online, and people like Desus Nice, The Kid Mero and Mike Francesa's refusal to lose their accents or tone down their brash attitudes is proof of authenticity. Their blood is the same shade of Yankee blue as their fans'.

As Desus and Mero move to Showtime, where they'll have their broadest platform yet, it'll be a challenge for them to retain their essential New Yorkiness. But the challenge will be for Showtime to "let them cook," as Desus and Mero would say, and trust them to do the show they want to do. They'll be great. It's up to the world to catch up to them. The brand is strong.