One ridicules the other mercilessly, but Samantha Bee and Hillary Clinton are nevertheless sisters-in-arms: each a strong, ratings-dependent feminist trying to break into an all-boys’ club, late-night comedy and the presidency, respectively. But only one of them is firing with all guns blazing.
In last week’s debut of Full Frontal, Bee’s Monday-night show on TBS, she held a press conference where reporters obsessed over her gender. “How can I watch your show—as a man?” asks one guy. “What’s it like to be a female woman?” wonders another. “What did you have to do differently to make this show a reality—as a woman?” Bee says that busting the late-night guy barrier took “hard work, a great team, maybe a little bit of magic.” And with a twinkle in her eye, she transforms into a screeching, exorcist-baiting Linda Blair in total demon-seizure. Flipping back to normal, Bee tells the stunned reporters, “It’s true, we’re all witches.”
And accordingly, Samantha’s been spewing curses at her big-sister witch—accusing Hillary of “top-shelf pandering” to blacks and feigning surprise at finding herself running for POTUS. An exasperated Sam cries, “Oh, fuck off! ‘What, me, president? Oh, golly gumdrops!’” Then she has Hillary demanding worship in a stentorian, horror-movie voice: “Anoint me your god! What more do you people want from me?!” It’s harsh and hilarious and raises a couple of questions for a show with the tagline, “Watch or you’re sexist.”
At 46, Bee is right on the cusp of the feminist generational divide that is plaguing Clinton’s campaign, especially after the Steinem/Albright New Hampshire meltdown. But as tough as she is on Hillary, Bee’s no Bernie Bro either (she hits Sanders for sporting sloppy clothes and too-neat remedies, telling him, “Money doesn’t fix racism, Bernie”).
And in her own, extremely backhanded way, Bee has been giving Clinton some you-go-girl advice. On Full Frontal’s second episode, Sam said Hill can avoid the sexist traps awaiting her whenever she opens her mouth by writing reminders in Sharpie on her wrists: “SHRILL=BAD” and “DON’T BE C*NTY” (asterisk hers).
Bee’s feminism doesn’t always express itself by going as all-out un-PC as an adolescent boy. At the end of this week’s episode, she said she had to bump a segment on women in the workplace because of the death of Antonin Scalia, adding that the Supreme Court justice “died as he lived—interfering with a woman’s plans.”