Samantha Bee’s critiques of Trump are entertaining, but they’re all she’s got

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It’s no secret that “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” loves picking on President Donald Trump. Samantha Bee has targeted any and all aspects of the Trump presidency, leaving no orange stone unturned. His cabinet, speeches and hair are all fair game for her group of skilled, late-night TV writers. Her reliance on President Trump’s actions in the White House provides an extremely entertaining and laugh-inducing show.

With her show first airing in 2016 when Trump’s campaign took off and his eventual election manifested, Bee clearly had a significant amount of American issues to sift through and serve to her audience on a silver platter. She chose to air embarrassing college theater videos of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, had her writers go out to events held by Trump supporters in hopes of unpacking what went on at them and sat in on a culture class at a Syrian refugee camp — all inexplicably linked to national political discourse. It’s also worth mentioning that Bee is Canadian as well as American, which does nothing but highlight her dedication to exposing the inner workings of the U.S. government.

For the first few seasons, as President Trump and his actions were more relevant and fresh in the public’s mind, Bee’s content delivered more swift and direct critiques at the expense of his administration. It may have just been a reaction to the rapid onslaught of policies, tweets and general ideologies presented by President Trump. Before the public could fully process what had been going on in the White House, “Full Frontal” was one of the forms of media at the forefront of criticizing the president.

The public simply wasn’t used to such a brash and unfiltered president. Bee and her colleagues were smart to capitalize on his behavior while it was still considered novel to the public. Nowadays, while the president may still do things that surprise Americans while they scroll through the news, they just don’t pack the same punch as they did before. Thus, even in the face of ongoing political news and events, Bee’s consistently heavy reliance on the president’s current demeanor seems to be getting a bit stale. 

That’s not to say that using President Trump as a topic of comedy is no longer funny or that it hadn’t served Bee well in the past. Her show was something to look forward to on a weekly basis, a form of comic relief. Audiences relied on her show to lighten up pressing political issues while never compromising full awareness. Her show was a light in an increasingly darkening sphere of global turmoil.

Bee’s focus on President Trump has undoubtedly generated some of her best content. While her topics have ranged anywhere from refugees to reproductive rights, she always finds her way back to the gold mine of Trumpian politics. It could be from the pressure Bee faces as being one of the only female late-night comedians gracing televisions across the nation. She knows the Trump administration offers tried and true comedic material and will guarantee a positive response from the audience — for her, not for the administration. At the time of her show’s first airing, she was the only female late-night television host in the United States. Just the name of the show, “Full Frontal,” is enough to tell a viewer exactly what they’ll be watching: strong feminist aspects, biting satire and a level of crudeness only appropriate to be screened in the dead of night.

Take the impeachment trials, for example. Any reasonable person would think that heavily satirizing the trials would be perfectly on-brand for Bee and any similarly inclined talk show host. And it’s already expected that Bee will kill her delivery of jokes about the trials. But somehow, the whole ordeal is watched with a sense of lethargy, with an air of, “Oh no, not this guy again,” or “What’s he done now?” preceded by a sigh. It has been four years since President Trump took office.

The dwindling of the presidency’s effectiveness on Bee’s content is far from her fault. President Trump will unquestionably continue to fuel Bee and other talk show hosts with quality tidbits to spin into entire episodes. But the reception by viewers may continue to wane as they simply get more used to such comedy. Bee either needs to take a new approach to dealing with Trumpian politics or she must rely more on her non-Trump-related pieces to carry her show onward.

Contact Pooja Bale at [email protected].