These days, I get mad a lot. I get mad when I hear about President Trump’s reckless, petulant, narcissistic tweeting, and madder when I read about his would-be sabotage of the Affordable Care Act. Coverage of his administration’s efforts to deny climate change, roll back environmental protections, and benefit the fossil-fuel and chemical industries makes me nearly Incredible-Hulk furious. I yearn to turn back time and alter the results of the 2016 election, but I can’t. So, instead, I watch Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.
Airing weekly on TBS, Full Frontal is a fast-paced late-evening comedy show much of which is devoted to skewering the Trump agenda. Hosted by the intrepid Bee, who wears a different eye-catching blazer each night, the show is pointedly political, unabashedly feminist, and often profane. Last year’s highlights included a withering takedown of the Trump administration’s “election integrity” commission and, just before Halloween, a stunt that involved ushering real-life climate-change skeptics through a possible-climate-apocalypse haunted house.
Bee is hardly the only TV comedian to focus on politics. Indeed, as many media analysts have already observed, late-night television has turned increasingly partisan since Trump’s inauguration—a striking development, given that, until now, such shows have been more interested in pleasing the broadest possible swathe of Americans. The host of CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert currently aims punch after satirical punch at the White House with an air of real conviction (though, alas, without the zing of his previous show, The Colbert Report on Comedy Central). This shift toward sharp-elbowed political commentary seems to have benefited The Late Show’s ratings, which had struggled early in Colbert’s tenure, when his tone was blander. In early 2017 The Late Show overtook NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and has been in first place ever since. Fallon, who sticks mainly to celebrity banter and music, had disgusted some viewers by giving Trump’s hair an affectionate tousle when the then-candidate visited his show in 2016.