Samantha Bee: The Feminist F*ck You to Late Night's Boys Club
When Jon Stewart broke America’s heart and stepped down from The Daily Show in August, a cavernous gaping hole opened up in late night. It was quickly filled by yet another man. Though it was a South African black man named Trevor Noah who, alongside Larry Wilmore, did bring racial diversity to the otherwise blindingly white cast of late night hosts, it still did little to quell the big problem of late night’s gender diversity. It’s a problem that was perfectly captured in one awkward photo featuring the all-boys club of late night hosts that ended up looking like a Men’s Warehouse ad. It was part of a Vanity Fair spread exclaiming that “Late-Night Television Is Better than Ever,” which would make sense if this wasn’t 2016 and if we lived in a world where women didn’t encompass 49.6 percent of the global population.
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) September 14, 2015
Luckily, Samantha Bee, The Daily Show’s longest-serving regular correspondent, crashed vagina-first into the red rover of late night hosts and broke up their sausage party—literally. She announced her show by turning down a plate of sausage and announcing that she was “female as fuck.” The Canadian-American comedian spent 12 years perfecting her own special brand of politically conscious wit and, on February eighth, unleashed it like a surprise orgasm onto the late night landscape. In her short nearly two-month stint as the host and executive producer of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, she’s proven to even the crotchetiest old men that women are funny.
The weekly TBS late night show has proved that people actually watch TBS and, with 3.7 million viewers per episode and 29 million views on YouTube, it led the network to grant Bee a full-season order this week. That means she’s going to be jabbing the election cycle in the eye with her sharp wit until the end of the year, which is great news for late night. Before Bee took on late night, only John Oliver’s weekly sociopolitical critiques gave the brutally honest look at politics that’s been missing since Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert stopped tag-teaming American politics. Like a surprise pregnancy, Bee came out of nowhere, giving us a satirical spin on what the hell is happening in America that make us laugh—even as we realize how fucked the country is becoming.
What makes Full Frontal special is that Bee has brought a much-needed dose of feminism that flows freely through the fabric of the show like period sex (calm down it’s healthy). Other late night hosts have taken a big meaty swing at issues facing the country but now that Bee is on the scene, their attempts are starting to feel limp. That may be thanks in part to having a writing staff that’s 50/50 men and women and as diverse as a liberal arts college. The sharp writing revealed itself immediately. In her premiere episode, she showed off her big ballsy brand of satire with a close-up of a bearded man drinking milk while it slid down his chin and sad video segments of Jeb Bush trying to be relevant. It was part of a mock documentary called Jeb? Ein Film Für Full Frontal, and it was exactly what we never knew we needed. Unlike Jeb, who we all knew nobody needed.
That segment may have seemed brutal given the passé late night fare we’ve come to expect but, week after week, Bee has proven why she’s the best thing to happen to late night since John Oliver’s weekly exposés. She’s used videos of everything, from a rhino shitting to visualize the awful legislation passed by Tea Party conservatives in 2010, to the baby-stabbing scene from Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding to address the topic of abortion. Every time we think she won’t go there, she goes farther than ever and spares nobody.
The Democratic and Republican candidates have all been taken down, though she does spend considerably more time taking out the GOP (with good reason). “By the way, when Democrats start calling for the execution of gays and Muslims, I promise I will hit them just as hard,” she said in a segment about Ted Cruz supporters who want to execute gays and Muslims. With months to go until the hellish carnival freak show of an election cycle is over, we’re glad to have Bee leading the way forward.
Stay tuned to Milk for more feminist badasses.