How do you unwind when it’s your job to get wound up? For Samantha Bee, the answer is easy: The Handmaid’s Tale! “I feel like I’m watching a lot of television products that are intensely upsetting,” Bee tells EW. “I don’t know, is that unwinding?”
Probably not, but the late-night host has had a good year nonetheless: Her TBS show Full Frontal With Samantha Bee has been nominated for seven Emmy Awards, including one for her lauded Not The White House Correspondents Dinner. We spoke to Bee about her year, the show’s growing audience, and the odds of her hosting another Not the WHCD special (spoiler: chances are slim).
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This show got one nomination in its first year, but this year it’s up to 7. Is the show’s influence growing?
SAMANTHA BEE: We’ve been doing the show consistently at the same level since day 1, but maybe our mixture of anger, dismay, and humor is perhaps more widespread in the country now for some reason. [Laughs] We’re so glad that people are coming on this journey with us.
When you’re out in the world, have you found that more people are coming up to you to unload their political concerns?
There are more desperate people coming up to me and clutching my hand and looking for solutions. But I have no solutions to offer them!
One big event for the show in the past year was the Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which is also nominated separately this year. What did that night mean to you and your show?
It was such a highlight for me — a career highlight. We’re so proud of it. It was a staggering experience seeing the audience reaction there. I don’t go out on stages for that many people, I’ve never done that before in my entire life. It was really a moment. I kind of hyperventilated beforehand.
Will this become an annual tradition?
Nope! When you have a show and an opportunity as we do, why would you want to do the same thing over and over again? I’d rather explore some new terrain. The reason we put that on the calendar was to bring ourselves joy. It was for us.
I imagine it can be exhausting having to keep up with every political development in this administration. Have you been able to find ways to unwind?
I think it says a lot that I’ve chosen to unwind with The Handmaid’s Tale. I don’t know, is that unwinding? I feel like I’m seeing television products that are intensely upsetting. And currently on my nightstand is the autobiography of a neo-Nazi. So… nighty-night, everyone! [Laughs] I promise, there is laughter around here.