Samantha Bee's 2016 Late Night Success Will Shape 2017 For The Better
Samantha Bee spent her 2016 kicking ass and taking names, especially those of people were trying to keep women, African-Americans, Mexicans, Muslims, LGBT+ people, and any other disenfranchised groups, well, disenfranchised. It paid off; Full Frontal with Samantha Bee will be back for a second season in 2017. It's a good thing, too, since there's still more than enough injustice to go around, and it definitely can't go ignored. In the 10 months she's been on the air, Bee has changed the landscape of late night, and it's not because she's female. Her voice is a voice that the majority of Americans — read, the millions who didn't vote for Trump as our next president — are going to need next year and maybe the three after.
As Bee made clear during her first season, she's more than happy to be that person. Throughout this election year, the former Daily Show correspondent was a whistleblower who wasn't afraid to call out anyone who she felt needed to be put on blast. This could be fake news "godfather" Jestin Coler, whose fake stories have real consequences; Kansas State Senator Mitch Holmes, who tried to enact a dress code that only applied to women; or Donald Trump doing, well, pretty much anything. Bee is the Nasty Woman, who, for years, has been shooting down the patriarchy.
For the past year, Bee's basically been setting her laser eyes on the world, hoping to once again make things better by showing a more inclusive side of politics. It's why her voice is one that could actually bring people together in 2017, no matter who you voted for. She has made her bottom-line clear: Full Frontal is a safe space for anyone and everyone who expects more from those in charge. It's a show for people who want to see their lives bettered, but not at the expense of their fellow countrymen and women. It's a show for people who don't just want to rehash the problems, but offer some solutions. Bee knows that we're all in this together, and that's how she conducts her show. It's as if it's a support group for all those who want to see positive change.
Fortune went as far to call Bee the "new Jon Stewart." Like her former boss, she's an outspoken critic of America, who's not afraid to show her frustration. That's an appropriate word for how a lot of people have been feeling all around the country this past year. Those who didn't vote for the president-elect are frustrated by how the system works, and those who did are frustrated by how much the system hasn't worked for them until now. Vox compared Bee's take on the 2016 election to Bill Maher's unapologetic Real Time take on George W. Bush in 2003. He also was frustrated and wasn't afraid to let people know, and, as Vox points out, both Maher and Bee's shows came out at just the right time when "furious liberals craved a space to be unapologetically pissed off at the conservative status quo."
Bee is a strong voice of the voiceless, no matter where they reside, and that's why Full Frontal is nipping at the heels of The Daily Show 's ratings. In July, Variety reported The Daily Show averaged 1.3 million viewers in the Nielsen ratings while Full Frontal averaged 1.2 million. She has addd her own distinct voice to what is still a homogenous late-night club by hiring a diverse group of writers that can actually tell stories that better represent America. These are female-driven stories that lean towards social justice, but, more importantly, they're stories that rarely get told. It's clear that these tales are resonating, and not just with women; Fortune reported that more than half of Full Frontal’ s viewers are men.
The issues Bee is diving into are clearly universal and she's treating them that way. As Bee told Fortune, in an era of raging, angry men like Trump, the “light and polite” business-as-usual rapport other late-night hosts are doling out just isn't satisfying. The world is ready for some feminist fury with their political satire, and that's what Bee intends to bring. “We feel these frustrations," she told Fortune. "We need this catharsis.”
Bee understands that anger and frustration can be cathartic, but only when it's done in a way that encourages action. Her voice is one that's strong and unflinching, but it's not a hopeless one. It's one that lets anyone who's listening know that we're down, but not out, and we need to actually work together to make things better. That's easier than it sounds, she knows this, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth trying. A Samantha Bee-filled 2017 will prove that the future is female — even if our president isn't.