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Samantha Bee's Best Full Frontal Moments
In just a few short months of hosting Full Frontal, Samantha Bee has become one of the most vital, original voices in late night. Like John Oliver, Bee employs a team of hard-working writers who often do real investigative journalism in the service of creating more informed comedy. Bee's hilarious, poetic, profanity-laden insult sequences are all her own, however, as is her sense of the real stakes behind debates like reproductive health. Here are some of our favorite Bee dissections, eviscerations, and takedowns since Full Frontal launched back in February (Bee is so good at insults that she'll often hit multiple people in one segment, so some of these highlights will also include 'side burns', a la Seth Meyers).
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10. Crisis pregnancy centers
In crafting the sequel to her breakthrough bit about the nationwide rape kit backlog, Samantha Bee turned to her love of film — specifically, Orson Welles' 1973 documentary F for Fake. She recruited comedian Patton Oswalt to dress up in Welles' black cape and top hat, in order to prove what a con crisis pregnancy centers are. These centers exist as an alternative to Planned Parenthood, and are supported by people like Bee's archnemesis, Georgia State Sen. Renee Unterman. Oswalt and Bee (she dressed up as the kind of fake doctor one would find in such a center) exposed the truth with the help of people like National Abortion Federation CEO Vicki Saporta and Cherisse Scott, a woman who was scared away from an abortion by such a center.
Best line: Bee herself was mostly silent during this bit, leaving the best lines to Oswalt: "Crisis pregnancy centers hide behind the fig leaf of the First Amendment, which I guess gives them the right to trick scared teenagers into not seeing a doctor. And no one's stopping them. The government's behind them! State governments give millions of dollars, your tax dollars, to these dickheads for 'abstinence education,' even though they're educators the same way Darth Vader was a good f---ing father."
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9. People yelling about Syrian refugees
The displacement of millions of Syrians from their war-torn home country is shaping up to be the greatest humanitarian crisis of the 21st century. In America, however, many politicians have discussed Syrian refugees as if they're all covert agents of ISIS sneaking in to destroy us from within. Bee responded by pulling on her reporter's hat and traveling to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan to meet "The People We're Incoherently Yelling About."
Best line: Bee spent most of the episode refuting every claim of America's "fraudulent rage prophets" line by line (the process of resettlement, for example, is so complicated as to make planned infiltration basically impossible) but finally delivered the coup de grace while talking to a Syrian refugee: "You sound like someone who really understands the principles that America was built on. You are going to stick out like a sore thumb there."
Side burn: As part of the segment, Bee even helped teach Syrian refugees some useful English terms. In a dig at our current media-saturated culture, one of the phrases she had them learn was "Can I have your HBO Go log-in?"
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8. People who didn’t vote in the 2010 midterms
Americans have now been living through more than a year of almost nonstop presidential election coverage, with five whole months still to go before the general election in November. Given the massive profits CNN has made off of this coverage, it will probably only get more insane going forward. The media attention for presidential elections is so all-consuming that it's easy to miss all the other elections that make up American politics. The result can be something like the 2010 midterm elections, which featured a huge victory for Republican congresspeople (they took back the House of Representatives from the 2008 Obama coalition) in the face of mediocre Democratic turnout. Bee was merciless toward both the politicians who got elected that year, and the young voters who allowed their victory by not showing up.
Best line: When describing how the victorious 2010 politicians made life at the state level harder for many constituents, Bee played a video of an elephant pooping, to match the politicians "unclenching their sphincters and passing every s----y idea from deep within their bowels: Bankrupting school systems, redrawing congressional districts, and doing everything short of bronzing pregnant women to limit access to abortions — all of the things that directly affect your life a million times more than the presidency."
Side burn: In building up to her main point, Bee found time to ding every major presidential candidate who was still running at that point. Hillary Clinton was "a barely-contained cluster of frustration," Bernie Sanders was "a human Upworthy post," Ted Cruz was "the world's only unlikable Canadian," Marco Rubio was "a puppet who finally became a real boy," and Donald Trump was "a tangerine-tinted trashcan fire." Bonus points for the alliteration on that last one.
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7. Trump supporters
To determine what kind of person supports Donald Trump for president aside from those who clash with protestors on TV, Samantha Bee invited a group of them to have a respectful conversation about their support. It started out that way, but as the interview went on, Bee kept refuting the supporters' various claims and needling them with pointed questions.
Best line: After the interview (which concluded with one of the supporters calling Bee a "whore"), Bee rewarded her interview subjects with a party. The best line came when Bee's assigned fact-checker (doesn't every party have one?) couldn't take the strain of watching one supporter repeatedly try to justify Trump's racist comments. "Watching someone choke down a piece of their soul just to belong broke my fact-checker."
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6. Jeb Bush
One of the most pleasantly surprising things about Full Frontal has been Bee's love of old movies. She came out of the gate in her very first episode with a Wernor Herzog parody, highlighting then-presumed Republican favorite Jeb Bush's complete inability to compete in the presidential primary ("please clap"). Bee matched that with Herzog flavor, the perfect mix of horror and humor. It was simultaneously very strange and made total sense for poor Jeb.
Best line: Jeb Bush famously gave out little turtles throughout his campaign, telling supporters "slow and steady wins the race." In response, Bee's Herzog stand-in gave a devastating analogy: "Perhaps it does. Or perhaps this turtle is helpless on its back in the mouth of a f---ing alligator."
Side burn: In addition to burning Jeb, the segment also had some choice descriptions for Jeb's main rivals, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. The first, in this fake-Herzog parlance, is "an oddly-tinted compilation of psychiatric symptoms," while Cruz is "a man who seems like he would lecture a starving kitten on personal responsibility, and then deport that kitten and his family."
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5. Andrew Jackson
After news broke that the U.S. Treasury would be demoting Andrew Jackson to the back of the $20 bill and replacing him with freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, Samantha Bee took on the predictable conservative backlash. She did so mostly by focusing on Jackson's own flaws.
Best line: Bee's first response to Fox News pundits calling Andrew Jackson "a key member of America" was to make a joke about the band America. She then quickly focused her withering gaze on Jackson's actual historical legacy and found him wanting: "He was a genocidal prick who forced the relocation of nonwhites and fermented populist rebellion, kind of like a Trump with better hair."
Side burn: Bee was vicious toward internet trolls who insulted Tubman's appearance. Or as she called them: "the assholes who complain that seeing the un-Botox'd face of an American hero as they stuff their wages into a stripper's G-string will instantly melt their tiny, thumb-sized boners."
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4. Ted Cruz
Samantha Bee took so much obvious pleasure out of ridiculing Ted Cruz that she actually seemed a little down when he finally dropped out of the Republican race. She played a compilation of all her past Cruz insults, trotted out some new ones, and even invited singer-songwriter Michelle Branch to sing a Cruz-focused parody of her song "Goodbye To You."
Best line: The montage of past Cruz insults is very impressive, but according to Bee, that barely scratches the surface of her Cruz Thesaurus. She trotted out a few last gems, including "husky Romulan" and "human Twilight Zone music."
Side burn: Cruz once compared Donald Trump to Biff from Back to the Future, and Bee took that analogy and ran with it. The best is her comparison of Bernie Sanders to Doc Brown, as "the elderly lunatic who hangs out with teenagers, and whose well-intentioned meddling screws things up for everyone." She even found a clip of Sanders talking about Libyans (as the Doc was wont to do), and dropped this bomb: "Quick, Marty, jump in the car and go back to the '50s when we didn't have to appeal to black voters!"
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3. Religious right
One of the most unexpected things about Donald Trump's rise to the Republican nomination was his incredible standing among evangelical voters. Members of the so-called "religious right" are typically assumed to prioritize things like Christian faith and family values among their politicians. In order to explain how they ended up backing "the thrice-married foul-mouthed tit judge who likes Planned Parenthood and thinks Corinthians is a type of car upholstery," Bee went back and explained the movement's origins.
Best line: Bee's whole mission was to show that supporting Trump is not actually that out of character for the religious right movement, given its background in defending school segregation. She wrapped up the segment by blasting everyone involved: "old-fashioned values voters no longer have the clout to get their vat monster the nomination, much less the Oval Office, and the new evangelicals are happy to ditch the Bible for good ol' white nativism and anti-government anger. Hey, just like you taught them!"
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2. Lawmakers responding to Orlando
Bee's show is usually a balancing act between righteous fury and venomous comedy, but in the wake of the Orlando massacre, it was the fury that took over. Bee began the episode by emphatically rejecting the idea that late-night hosts had to profess mournful homilies about the triumph of love over evil. "F--- it, I am too angry for that," she said. While she dissed shooter Omar Mateen's mirror selfies ("I think we can all agree that if you don't have one friend to hold the phone for you, your lone wolf ass doesn't get a gun"), Bee saved most of her ire for Florida lawmakers like Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott, who acted mournful on TV following the massacre but still refused to do anything about gun control.
Best line: Anti-gun control politicians like Scott and Rubio like to invoke "thoughts and prayers" in the wake of such massacres, so Bee responded with a taste of their own medicine. "Maybe we're not praying right. Maybe we should check the instruction manual," Bee said, opening the Bible to James 2:17: "Thus faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."
Side burn: Hamilton had just won big at the Tony Awards the night before, so Bee used that while insulting Bill of Rights author James Madison for the Second Amendment: "Love you Madison, congrats on your Tony, but you really f---ed us with that one."
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1. Rape kits
One of Bee's first breakthrough bits involved a thorough look at the backlogs of untested rape kits sitting around in police stations all over the country. Although this is a problem in every state, Bee drew special focus to Georgia, where a bill mandating testing for all rape kits passed unanimously in the House of Representatives but failed to even make it to the Senate floor. The bit generated so much attention that it eventually led to the passing of the bill.
Best line: Georgia State Sen. Renee Unterman chaired the Senate committee that initially stopped the Pursuing Justice for Rape Victims Act from reaching the Senate floor. Bee excoriated her for breaking the first two Feminist Rules ("no rape jokes" and "don't be mean to other women") and then delivered this memorable line at high volume: "Woman, have you lost your f---ing mind?"
Side burn: After Georgia, Bee also took a look at Idaho, where Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland downplayed the importance and even existence of rape. Bee went off on this guy: "Listen, you giant pink hamster fetus of a man, I'm sure the thought of actually heaving your ass out of that chair and chasing a criminal is exhausting. You can believe women are lying whores when you're off the clock, but when you're the sheriff, you have to listen to rape victims. Otherwise, when the women in your community rise up and strangle you with your own stupid monogrammed shirt, it's gonna be consensual assisted suicide because you're definitely asking for it."