The termination of Samantha Bee signals difficult times for women and people of color on late-night television.

TBS’s decision to cancel Full Frontal With Samantha Bee may portend a more difficult future for women and people of color in late-night comedy. hide caption – Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TBS

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee was canceled by TBS, which could portend a more difficult future for women and people of color in late-night comedy. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TBS


It’s important to note one thing in light of the news that TBS has canceled Full Frontal with Samantha Bee after seven seasons. I’ve never thought Bee has had the attention or opportunity she deserves in television. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TBS

(Full disclosure: I joked about the possibility that Trump and Republicans might concoct some type of false “October surprise” news story to hurt Joe Biden and Democrats going into the 2020 elections when I was interviewed for an Full Frontal segment a while back.)

Bee has made significant advancements in the field of news satire since her 2003 debut on The Daily Show, where she began the show as its only female correspondent and rose to become its longest-serving correspondent by the time she left in 2014.

Although I adore Trevor Noah, who has done a fantastic job as Stewart’s replacement and the current host, recasting it for a different generation of news parody consumers, I thought she seemed a promising candidate to take over the show when then-host Jon Stewart left in 2015 (much as I love Noah, who has done an amazing job). When Comedy Central made it clear that Bee was never a contender to succeed Stewart, Bee herself responded with “ “it was awful” .”

While it was great to see Bee get her own show in 2015 and become the most well-known woman to host a late-night talk show series, and while she has recently spun off significant projects like her Not the White House Correspondents Dinner , TBS hasn’t seemed to know what to do with Full Frontal and has moved its time slots around so much that even fans might find it difficult to keep up.

Therefore, it wasn’t altogether unexpected when Warner Bros. Full Frontal was canceled earlier this year by Discovery, a new organization created after Discovery and WarnerMedia, the parent company of TBS, combined. The channel’s statement on Full Frontal pretty clearly pegs the decision on wider corporate priorities, not the show’s ratings or performance. The corporation had already paused production of new scripted projects for TNT and TBS, removing the critically acclaimed sitcom Chad hours before its second season debut . In a statement provided to me by a TBS representative, it was stated that “we’ve made some difficult, business-based decisions as we continue to define our new programming strategy.” The fact that Full Frontal’s cancellation is related to a more significant issue doesn’t lessen the pain of seeing the most prominent female voice in late night unceremoniously removed from television, at least for the time being (fingers crossed Bee lands at a new platform which values her show more than TBS ultimately did). And her show isn’t the only late-night program to go dark in recent years.

Growing Unrest in Late-Night Television

Joel Martinez, “The Kid Mero,” and Daniel Baker, “Desus Nice,” from the Showtime late-night program “Desus and Mero,”

Toggle caption Joel Martinez, “The Kid Mero,” and Daniel Baker, “Desus Nice,” from the Showtime late-night series “Desus and Mero,” in img1.
The Bodega Boys will be featured on Showtime’s fun late-night interview program, according to Jean Baptiste Lacroix/Getty Images.
Mero and Desus

According to reports, is dissolving because t he program’s two hosts have decided to work separately . Next year, James Corden will resign from his position as host of CBS’ The Late Late Show. Additionally, A Little Late with Lilly Singh, a program that aired at 1:37 a.m. on NBC, was terminated last year. It didn’t even add new, original programming to the existing show.

It appears that there is less room on late-night television for original programming. And it’s taking place as actual chances for women and people of color to join the party are emerging.

This is essentially another example of how online platforms are displacing traditional media. Current late-night hosts carve up their shows for distribution through platforms that may draw nearly as many views online as viewers on broadcast TV or cable channels. The young, college-age viewers who once made successes of white guy hosts like David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, and Jon Stewart are now glued to Tik Tok, Instagram, and YouTube.

(Even the term “late night TV” seems a bit out of date now that viewers may watch episodes anytime they want online.)

It’s not surprising that CBS has already indicated that, after Corden departs, it plans to play about a bit with the Late Late Show’s time slot. However, this ambivalence about late night comes at the same time that fresh faces like Charlamagne tha God, Sam Jay, Ziwe, Amber Ruffin, and Michael Che are receiving their own chances to reimagine the genre in a more inclusive way.

Cynics would think the genre has already passed its prime. But as a critic who saw Letterman reinvent the TV chat show by subverting it, much like Jon Stewart revived the news parody show, I’m sure the traditional format has some life left in it. especially now that the genre has more women and individuals of color.

GAUGING LATE-NIGHT TV’S FUTURE There are still some intriguing issues to be resolved. Will Bee land another relevant show on a different platform as women’s rights become a more pressing subject for the midterm elections, or will she use her skills as a producer and her production firm to develop something else? Will CBS look for someone who can completely revolutionize the form, or will it try to fill Corden’s time slot with a star who can mix popularity on the broadcast network and online?

And can someone with Amber Ruffin’s skill gain more exposure for her program on cable or broadcast TV? Her show for NBC’s streaming service Peacock has made her arguably the most successful new voice in late night.

I’m crossing my fingers for Bee, an Emmy-winning host, to have a successful landing. However, it’s also critical for the business to acknowledge and protect chances for the next generation of late-night TV talent, who, given the chance, could grow the genre through innovation and inclusivity.