The first queen of late-night TV is the comedian Samantha Bee, who has become one of the most important voices in the pop culture mainstream with her “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” on TBS. The once-a-week late-night show has become must-watch TV for anyone wanting a sharp, satirical point of view on current events, especially in the new era of Trump. Here are just a few of the reasons why viewers love “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee.”
Reason #1: She’s not afraid to go after President Donald Trump
One of the hallmarks of “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” is her irreverent and scathing criticism of the Trump administration. In 2016, her “Trump Conspiracy Theory” segment was named the #1 video clip of the year in a popular survey of the Top 10 Most Important Late Night Moments of 2016. That just gives you an idea of her willingness to question the policies of the current administration, using comedy as a tool to get people talking.
On April 29, she hosted the “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” which was both a chance to lampoon the Trump administration and to take a few swings at the mainstream media as well. The show, which was counter-programming for both the real White House correspondents’ dinner and the Trump rally taking place in Pennsylvania, include a cold open that featured a satirical press room briefing with the “real fake news.” It also included a piece on “Fox News in memoriam” and a roast of NBC’s Jeff Zucker.
That tells you all you really need to know about Samantha Bee’s ability to take a wide angle view of what’s happening in the media and political space. In the current era, the line between news and entertainment continues to blur. To connect with the young millennial viewer, as Samantha Bee clearly has, requires the ability to turn weighty, important matters into entertaining video clips.
Reason #2: She goes “full frontal” with field reports
Another major distinguishing feature of the show is the reliance on field reports, rather than just having a host sitting behind a news desk. That’s a sharp departure from what you typically see with other late night shows, which are long on sit-down interviews and sketch comedy bits, but not so much on field reports.
By getting out into the field and out of the studio, Samantha Bee can often expose the ludicrousness of certain views. For example, a feature on the “Deepest State” promised to reveal “malicious government employees” at work. What ensued was hardly anything but.
As an example of the type of field reports that Samantha Bee does is an investigation into the Veteran’s Health Administration (VHA) and the fate of female soldiers coming back from combat. Samantha Bee has also filed field reports from outside the U.S., like a popular piece she did that was filmed in Jordan.
The show does interview guests occasionally – an interview with President Barack Obama in late 2016 was a notable exception – but Samantha Bee pulls heavily on her previous work as a correspondent on the “Daily Show.” Bee’s goal is to arrive at important truths by getting out into the field.
Reason #3: She presents a woman’s point of view on news and culture
Let’s face it – the late night TV landscape is relatively barren of female voices. Think of all the late night TV hosts – they are all men. And even when it comes to “The Daily Show,” Samantha Bee was completely passed over as a potential host for the show when Jon Stewart announced his retirement. So Samantha Bee decided to launch her own show on a different network.
It’s the type of perspective that TBS likes to tout somewhat irreverently. On the show’s website, TBS proudly hails the show as a welcome addition to “late-night’s all-male sausage fest.” While not all the segments are women-centric, there are definitely some that are focused on women (like on the segment about female soldiers). And she also enjoys dropping the “V” word as often as possible.
Reason #4: Samantha Bee focuses on stories at the edge of politics and culture
While other late night TV show hosts focus more on Hollywood and pop culture, Samantha Bee has her sights set much higher: on the current political scene. Take the example of the recent alleged hacking of the U.S. election by the Russians. That led to Samantha Bee doing a feature on Russian hacking and Russian trolls. But it wasn’t just the obvious take on the Russian hacking scandal – it also mocked the gullibility of people who would actually believe any of the clumsy attempts to change American views.
And, given all the Trump-fueled paranoia about the “Deep State” trying to take him down, Samantha Bee now features some merchandise on her website with “Deep State Alumni” emblazoned on the front. Just as someone might walk around with an Ohio State Alumni or Michigan State Alumni sweatshirt, you can now wear a Deep State Alumni sweatshirt!
Reason #5: Samantha Bee has mastered the art of creating viral content
In today’s digital world, what matters is being able to get your content shared and picked up by others. In other words – it’s important for that content to go viral. And that’s something that Samantha Bee has mastered, making it easy for her fans to package up her content and share it widely. At times, the weekly show almost feels like a pre-packaged collection of viral YouTube clips, all ready to travel out into the ether and win over new fans. And it’s exactly her brand of “full frontal” content that is best able to go viral. It’s at times shocking, other times hilarious, and still others, shockingly hilarious. But it is always pure Samantha Bee.
It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” has picked up some stellar reviews from fans and critics alike. The first season of the show, which started in February 2016, has a perfect 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That made the decision by TBS to renew the show for a second season a no-brainer. Samantha Bee is a comedic force on late-night TV, and her rapier-like wit is only getting sharper each week. She has clearly figured out a way to offer a relevant, satirical analysis of current events and the political agenda.