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The Sports Pope Came Through to Bless the ‘Desus & Mero’ Finale on Viceland

The beloved Bronx duo bade farewell with Mike Francesa, a whole lot of Brugal, and two years’ worth of indelible memories

Viceland

The extended cut of the Desus & Mero sit-down with Mike Francesa on Thursday night runs 26 minutes and 41 seconds long. Like every guest on the Viceland talk show before him, Francesa sits at the center of a graffitied wood table flanked by the two most unpredictable interviewers on TV, with a taxidermied grizzly bear in a Yankees New Era lurking behind them. The questions from Desus and Mero come fast and unscripted, but the environment doesn’t faze the man in the middle. Francesa, who has made a career out of lambasting his own listeners into radio silence and ranting until his face turns purple, is all smiles, the only shades of crimson in his cheeks a result of persistent laughter.

The hosts are all smiles too, but then, when are they not? Thursday night marked the end of the Viceland era for Desus & Mero. After two years and 293 episodes, the 35-year-old Bronx natives will transition to a weekly, half-hour time slot on Showtime next year—and their grand finale was every bit the foray down memory lane that was advertised. The show kicks off with the duo bursting into Vice headquarters to deliver a joint speech, both thanking everyone that had contributed to their success and commending Vice’s “balls” for sitting them in front of a camera and saying “do you” when no one else would have. Then we shift to the Bear Room, where the Bodega Boys run us through the most memorable moments from their time at Viceland, from their first episode to their special election-day interview with Cardi B to their recent beef with DJ Envy.

As reported early Thursday afternoon, there were friends in the house, as well. Charlamagne and Vashtie provided commentary and laughter from an off-screen couch throughout, but Pio—my sweet baby-faced king, Pio—blessed us with perhaps the most iconic moment of the entire night ...

Francesa was the headliner of the evening, though, and he didn’t disappoint; the three anguished NYC sports souls seemed like old friends lamenting the Knicks’ perpetual woes and reveling in this year’s Yankees–Red Sox brawl. Francesa went into detail about the outlandish costumes (e.g., a Diet Coke can) he sees at “Francesa-Con” every year, and they all connected briefly over their experiences as fringe voices at one point ostracized by the mainstream. His rainbow banner (each guest offers a parting mantra at the end of every Desus & Mero interview) reads, “Dream It And Do It”—fittingly, an on-the-nose reflection of Desus and Mero’s spontaneous rise to stardom. (Unfortunately, the Pope didn’t reveal any recent blockchain investments or offer an update on the progress of his quest to make apps big—it would be yuuuge if he could get that off the ground.)

Desus and Mero’s mission statement has always been to make their audience feel at home, and even as they leveled up—from Complex to Viceland, from gravy-stained sweatshirts to Versace sneakers—it was easy to feign as if you knew them, as if they were among your closest friends. Seeing these old buddies every night became a daily routine. Though their voluminous archive of YouTube clips is going nowhere fast (I hope), the sad reality is that Friday marks the first of many days before we see these two on camera again.

But everything is finite. We are twice reminded of this inescapable truth in Desus & Mero’s Viceland farewell; once by Desus on his rainbow—directly beneath a visibly plastered Mero’s parting message to fans: ”Pay 5 Dollars For That Showtime, Stupid”—and again as the show comes to a close.

“As Spike Jonze told you early on,” Desus begins before being joined by Mero for the kicker, “everything is finite. So don’t be mad it’s ending, be happy you enjoyed it.”

“You know what I’m sayin’, enjoy the new beginnings,” Mero continues. He blows a kiss.

It would have been the perfect conclusion to their all-too-brief run as the self-proclaimed “no. 1 show on late night.” Heartfelt. Slurred through sips of champagne and Brugal. And with a touch of the effortless chemistry that has endeared Desus and Mero to so many since their debut on Complex five years ago. But there was something missing. As they always say in the Bronx, the traditional ending …

(Chef’s kiss.) See you on Showtime.