Late night is, you may have heard, a boy’s club. And without Letterman, Stewart, and Colbert (the fictional one), it’s also gentler than it’s been in years. With Jimmy Fallon’s singalong jamboree leading the pack, late night is nicer than it’s been since the Clinton administration (at least). Though the genre has never been particularly biting, the attention being paid to producing viral videos has made it increasingly toothless.
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, which premiered last night on TBS, is a very welcome addition to the late-night landscape. This isn’t Bee’s first rodeo, of course, and the persona she’s adopted feels like a modified version of her Daily Show correspondent: She’s charmingly brash, self-assured, and isn’t going to take any bullshit.
The show’s first episode focuses mainly on the primary battle, and Bee makes quick work of both races. Bee has the one quality Trevor Noah lacks—point of view—in spades, which is evident when describing, for instance, Ted Cruz’s “personality cancer.”
But the highlight of the night was a segment Bee didn’t appear in, which nevertheless had her fingerprints all over it: the absurd Werner-Herzog-Meets-CNN mini-documentary, “A Jeb in Winter.”
Full Frontal is weekly not daily—similar to John Oliver’s show, though it does have commercials—which is a shame: Late night needs an edge, and Samantha Bee has one.