Within the past month, the number of “late-night”-style shows hosted by women has been cut in half. And Samantha Bee is not happy about it.
“I find it very disheartening, actually,” Bee tells The Daily Beast by phone this week during a break from hosting Full Frontal on TBS.
Towards the end of July, BET announced that it would not be renewing The Rundown with Robin Thede, hosted by the former head writer of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. Three weeks later, Netflix abruptly pulled the plug on The Break with Michelle Wolf. The move was so sudden that the entire writing staff, including the showrunners, found out they had lost their jobs on Twitter.
“I’m really, really sad about it,” Bee says. “Because those women are amazing, their shows were great.” If she were a network executive, she says she’d be “trying to get them to come them to me and make a show, no question.”
“You have to take time as a network to develop things. If it’s not working for you in the time slot or whatever, you have to give a show more than 10 episodes to find its legs,” she adds. “It’s brutal. Shows need time to find their audience and they need adequate advertising. They need adequate promotional pushes to make that happen.”
Full Frontal, which premiered in February of 2016, has been given ample room to grow and plenty of promotion by TBS. But there were a couple of weeks earlier this year when it’s future started looking a bit dicey.
After Bee referred to Ivanka Trump as a “feckless cunt” during a segment about the Trump administration’s family separation policy, a few advertisers dropped out and both Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the president himself called for the show to be canceled.
Ultimately, TBS stood by Bee, who apologized on air for her rhetoric, and is currently building a new set for Full Frontal, demonstrating just how much they believe in the show. Despite building small but impassioned fan bases, Wolf and Thede were not able to overcome their own obstacles. In one positive piece of news, TNT announced this week that it has ordered a late-night pilot from Claws star Niecy Nash.
“You don’t build an audience overnight, you don’t build an audience in three months,” Bee explains. “You just don’t, you can’t, it takes a really long time. It’s a really long game. And you have to have a vision for the future in order to be able to do it properly and I think that that was lacking in both of those cases. I’m not sure why.”
She adds that she’s “sure” Wolf and Thede will “land” at other networks or platforms that are willing to give them the chances they deserve. “I’m positive of that,” Bee says. “There’s no way that you could take that many talented people and set them adrift and have them not find an island to climb up on and make something even better.”
Stay tuned for our full interview with Samantha Bee coming later this week, including an in-depth discussion about the fallout from her controversial comments about Ivanka Trump.