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It’s possible we’ve all clung to our late-night infotainment shows a little tighter than we should have across these last few years of nightmare fuel and eroding norms, but can you blame us? The mainstream media has often seemed unable or unwilling to plainly label bad actors and actions for fear of being painted as biased, causing people to look to the John Olivers, Stephen Colberts, Trevor Noahs, and Sam Bees of the world to shout it out loud and, in some cases, focus on stories that inexplicably fall through the cracks or need a signal boost. And yet, here we are with one less such show to turn our eyes to following the news that TBS is moving on from Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.
One of television’s smartest and gutsiest late-night shows that also happened to be the most prominent female-hosted late-night series of all time. The show is not going to get the chance to return for its 8th season, according to Bee’s reps in a statement released to Variety. And in case the optics/timing aren’t clear enough, I’ll just underline by saying that this is, of course, happening at a time when women’s rights are under attack, and it might be beneficial to have someone in late-night comedy speaking out and keeping focus on that, as Bee has with the skill and force that have become a trademark of the show throughout its run across multiple topics.
For TBS, this all comes down to a move away from late night following Conan O’Brien’s exit from the cable channel a little more than a year ago. Which is wild considering TBS’s long focus on late night, which predates O’Brien’s 11 years on TBS to the launch of George Lopez’ Lopez Tonight. But, as per Variety‘s report, there may be an industry-wide cut back on late-night brewing. Another wild thing to consider when you look at the critical praise, awards chatter, and general feeling of cultural import that a lot of these shows (including Full Frontal with its dozen Emmy nominations and zeitgeist mastery) give off; but in an ever-shifting media landscape and with ever-changing leadership with differing visions playing musical chairs, there are several variables at play with a decision like this. Still, in times like these and with the skill with which a show like this operates, it almost feels like it should be considered a public service to keep it on the air.
No doubt, the end of Full Frontal will be praised as proof of some kind of sea change in the culture wars by some on the far-right (proof that the show’s barbs often landed), but the success of the show and of Bee’s brand of commentary (long celebrated dating back to her legendary run on The Daily Show) ensures that there will be another opportunity on the horizon for Bee and her talented team. But for now, we’ll mourn the loss of this truly powerful, always funny show and wait for word on what’s next.