fb-pixel Skip to main content
TV CRITIC'S CORNER

Cancellation of ‘Full Frontal with Samantha Bee’ robs late-night TV of a vital voice

After seven years of take-no-prisoners political comedy, TBS axes Emmy-winning series

Samantha Bee in an episode of “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” her now-canceled TBS show.NICOLE RIVELLI

Jon Stewart departed the anchor desk at Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show’' in the summer of 2015, which meant that one of the finest satirists in TV history wasn’t around to help us cope with the grisly Trump years.

Now TBS has axed “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.”

That means a fiercely uncompromising female voice won’t have a late-night platform just when it is badly needed, as the real-world consequences sink in from the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, thereby rolling back women’s rights.

So the news about Bee is bad, and so is the timing, and now the late-night TV landscape is even more male-dominated.

Advertisement



Bee’s Twitter account announced the cancellation in characteristically dry-and-wry fashion: “After 7 years, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee will not be returning to TBS this fall. We are so thankful for our loyal audience, our amazing team, and that we got to annoy the right people every week — that there wasn’t wrestling or baseball or a very special episode of Big Bang.”

A short time later, in a sardonic echo of Donald Trump’s remarks to his rioting supporters on Jan. 6, 2021, another tweet from the account deadpanned: “To our loyal fans — we love you, you’re very special. Go home, and go home in peace.”

While thanking Bee and her team for their “groundbreaking work,” TBS framed the cancellation as one of the “difficult, business-based decisions” the network is making “as we continue to shape our new programming strategy.”

Bee, who made her name as one of the most quick-witted and creative-in-the-moment correspondents on “The Daily Show,” emerged as a hard-hitting, take-no-prisoners host on “Full Frontal.” Presciently, she often focused on abortion rights and the elected officials and judges who threatened them.

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe, Bee said in a video: “Make no mistake, this is not where it ends. Conservatives will not rest until they come for all of our rights. Everything we have fought for could be lost, unless we take it back.”

Advertisement



As one of the few female late-night hosts, Bee was often the target of misogynistic attacks, especially after she became one of Trump’s most scathing comedic critics. At one point, she memorably described him as a “sociopathic 70-year-old toddler.”

In 2018, when presidential daughter Ivanka Trump tweeted a photo of herself with her infant son around the time of news reports about a Trump administration policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border, Bee erupted on the air.

“You know, Ivanka, that’s a beautiful photo of you and your child, but let me just say, one mother to another: Do something about your dad’s immigration practices, you feckless [expletive]!”

The backlash was swift and furious; President Trump, predictably, demanded that she be fired. Bee apologized to Ivanka Trump for the remark, calling it “inappropriate and inexcusable.” But in the ensuing years, she did not retreat an inch in her scathing criticism of Donald Trump.

During its seven seasons on the air, “Full Frontal” racked up nearly 20 Primetime Emmy nominations. In 2017, Bee and her team won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special for “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” a bit of counterprogramming.

It was fitting, because that’s what Bee represented: a counter to the usual voices saying the usual things. Here’s hoping she finds another platform very soon.

Advertisement




Don Aucoin can be reached at donald.aucoin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeAucoin.