Jimmy Fallon's "Thank You Note" series reached a new level on Wednesday night, when the Tonight Show host ceded the floor to his show's women writers. The writers' notes were sweet and funny, but it's Miley Cyrus' letter to Hillary Clinton that will make you reach for the tissues.
Seven of the staff's female writers came up to the desk to thank Clinton individually. (One managed to even snag a selfie, much to Fallon's chagrin.) Then, after staff writers had thanked the former presidential candidate for myriad accomplishments, guest Miley Cyrus took a seat behind the Tonight Show desk. Her voice trembled almost immediately.
While the Tonight Show writers calmly expressed their gratitude for Clinton, it was Actual Celebrity Miley Cyrus who seemed to be the most starstruck. With a shaky hand and a shakier voice, Cyrus thanked her for being "a constant beacon of strength, hope, and determination" for young women and for herself. "You've been a role model and an inspiration," Cyrus said between I'm-not-going-to-cry sniffs that every crier knows signal you're absolutely about to. She also referred to Clinton as "a voice of reason in uncertain times," before pausing to ask an important question — Could she have a hug? Spoiler alert: She can.
As you may recall, Cyrus was initially a supporter of Bernie Sanders, and then campaigned heavily for Clinton leading up to the 2016 election. Though she continued to express appreciation for Sanders, she stated — in an extremely Miley way — it was "f*cking crazy" for any Sanders fanatic to be anti-Hillary, according to an Oct. 2016 Variety interview. In the weeks leading up to the election, Cyrus literally went door-to-door campaigning for Clinton. She also participated in protests against Trump administration policies on behalf of her Happy Hippie foundation. Cyrus is proudly, unapologetically political, and frequently posts about supporting Planned Parenthood, defeating anti-LGBTQIA legislation, promoting animal safety, and encouraging her fans to be as inclusive as possible.
It happens to be Miley Cyrus Week on Tonight Show, so it was no surprise that the artist (who identifies as pansexual and genderqueer, but uses she/her pronouns) materialized to thank Clinton. Cyrus herself has a complicated relationship with the media, and the hug they shared onstage felt emotional and honest and real. Late night television is traditionally "infotainment" for the masses, but in this age, it's impossible not to be at least a little political. Fallon has long struggled with that balance — cough, cough, the Trump interview — and his decision to stay out of this particular segment is part of what made it so successful. It didn't come across as staged, or for publicity, or to change any narratives. Fallon simply allowed young women comics to do their thing.
One by one, the female Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon writers marched to the desk to thank Clinton for the aspects of her career that resounded with them the most. Somewhere in between lauding her résumé and work for public health, it was difficult not to take notice: The Tonight Show has seven women in the writers' room. Mostly young! And diverse! In all honesty, it was a surprise. A pleasant one, of course, but startling nonetheless. Late-night television remains an infamously male-dominated landscape, and it's refreshing to see hosts such as Fallon, Seth Meyers, and Trevor Noah step out of the shot and feature young, female talent.
Additionally, when Fallon moved aside, his writers' humor and pathos transformed the energy onstage. At the risk of overdoing it, or copying Seth Meyers' "Jokes Seth Can't Tell" format, it would be cool of Tonight Show to let the women writers take over more often. It was also encouraging to see the warm, approachable, and genuine side of Clinton again. She then wrote a thank you letter back to Cyrus, as well as the Tonight Show team, quoting the singer's hit track, "We can't stop. We won't stop."
Also, one important note: Under no circumstances should you read the comments below the "Thank You Notes To Hillary Clinton" video on YouTube. Just... do not read them. Save yourself. The internet is dark and full of terrors, and you really don't need to put yourself through that today.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to Fallon's show as the Late Show. It has since been updated.