Hulu’s decision to cancel I Love You, America came as a total shock to Sarah Silverman.
“We were so sure we were getting picked up,” she tells me during a recording session for The Daily Beast’s new comedy interview podcast The Last Laugh. “We’re all super-bummed about it.”
The comedian’s topical, “late night”-style series premiered on Hulu in October 2017. She used it as a platform not just to preach to her like-minded liberal choir, but also to reach out to people with whom she had deep disagreements.
Silverman hosted former Westboro Baptist Church members and ex-neo-Nazis. She visited Trump supporters in the Deep South and a group that actually calls itself Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust. She made news by expressing her complicated feelings about friend Louis C.K. and took Democrats to task for acting like they lost the 2018 midterms.
In the end, despite Emmy and Writers Guild nominations, Hulu shut down her show after just 21 episodes. It was the third cancellation of a female-fronted show like this one in less than a year after Netflix axed Michelle Wolf’s The Break and BET got rid of The Rundown with Robin Thede.
“I know that they did love the show,” Silverman starts out, diplomatically, “but I think what it cost compared to its popularity or the eyes that they had on it didn’t—you know, the people that make the decisions there don’t have any connection to the show. So it’s easier for them. It’s probably smart. They make very hard decisions.”
Then she takes a turn. “I probably shouldn’t,” she says tentatively. “Eh, fuck it. Guess I’ll just burn this one down. I think it’s a funny story, or maybe it sounds obnoxious and it’s too showbiz-y. I’m really debating right now.”
She doesn’t debate for long.
“You know, it’s one of their only shows nominated for Emmys besides Handmaid’s Tale,” she tells me. And yet, after appearing at last year’s Emmy Awards on behalf of Hulu, Silverman says she got a $1,500 bill for hair and makeup.
“Even Comedy Central, like 15 years ago, paid for that shit when I was nominated,” she says. “I was just flummoxed. Wouldn’t it be worth them paying $1,500 to not have me on Matt Wilstein’s podcast saying Hulu wouldn’t pay $1,500 for an Emmy for their network?”
On top of that, when Silverman got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last fall, Netflix—a company she hadn’t worked with in over a year—sent her roses and made a donation to one of her favorite charities. She says she didn’t even get an email from Hulu.
“That stuff doesn’t mean anything to me—it really doesn’t,” she insists. “But it’s just such a bad look for you guys. I don’t want to say ‘appalling.’ Separating children at the border is appalling. I keep my overhead very low, but Hulu doesn’t. So they should probably pay for shit.”
In the months since the show was canceled, Silverman has been performing more stand-up comedy around Los Angeles and is heartened when people come up and tell her how much they loved the show. “‘Keep doing what you’re doing!’” they say. “And it is just so heartbreaking because I kind of feel cut off at the knees.”
Subscribe now to ‘The Last Laugh’ on Apple Podcasts, the Himalaya app or wherever you listen to podcasts to hear our full conversation—including Silverman’s thoughts on the 2020 Democratic primary, Al Franken, Louis C.K. and more—when it premieres tomorrow, Tuesday, March 26. And look out for new episodes featuring a different comedian guest every Tuesday moving forward.