Samantha Bee’s fans were thrilled last month when she scored an Emmy nomination for Full Frontal on TBS. Actually, they nominated her for seven categories. But for many of fans only one of them matters, the Outstanding Variety Talk Series.
As a dollop of icing on the cake, Gold Derby says the odds for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee are 4-6. Although that puts her in second place behind last year’s winner John Oliver, these awards prediction experts also see a strong contender for Best Variety Special in her “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Presents Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner” episode.
So why is this Emmy Award so important? Because few women even get nominated for the Outstanding Variety Talk Series category, let alone win. The title of an article from IndieWire sums it up: “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Made Emmy History Just By Being Nominated.” Sure, the category’s brand new since the Emmy Awards split Outstanding Variety Series into separate Talk and Sketch categories. And sure, Amy Schumer took the honors for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series last year.
But Talk is the category that impacts national news, politics, and current events. And like its parent category, it’s dominated by men. Still, Samantha Bee has come a long way from last year, when Hidden Remote fumed over her getting snubbed for the Outstanding Variety Talk Series Emmy. In 2016 Full Frontal only got named for Outstanding Writing For A Variety Series. The photo below shows executive producer, showrunner, and top writer Jo Miller to her right.
You see, Samantha Bee isn’t “just” a comedian or the star in her own variety news and politics show. Like her former Daily Show colleagues Steven Colbert and John Oliver, she’s a force of nature. For starters, how did she celebrate when her show landed seven Emmy nominations? She announced Full Frontal had just raised over $1 million for Planned Parenthood, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Then last week, she thanked the woman whose donation put her Planned Parenthood campaign over the million dollar mark by bringing her on stage with some cast members from Hamilton.
As it turns out, Samantha Bee isn’t the only woman whose work is underrepresented by the Emmys for their top award. Since at least the 1970s, it appears women have only won the Outstanding Variety Series award six times. And that was back when variety shows centered on music, celebrities, and broad, goofball humor instead of biting commentary on current events.
- Carol Burnett: The Carol Burnett Show got nominations for the Outstanding Variety Musical Series Emmy Award throughout the 1970s. The Emmys website shows that her hilarious and highly popular program also scored wins in 1972, 1974, and 1975.
- Julie Andrews: In 1973, the short-lived Julie Andrews Show took the prize for Outstanding Variety Musical Series, as listed on the IMDb. It should be noted that back then, there was only one Emmy for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series.
- Tracey Ullman: In 1997, Tracey Takes On… won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series, and was nominated two years after. The IMDb also shows her taking the honors in 1987 for The Tracey Ullman Show.
But over the past couple of decades, variety shows have gotten less centered on music and slapstick and more on news presented as comedy. Over this same time period, the faces fronting these shows — with a few exceptions like Saturday Night Live — have become increasingly male. Luckily, Samantha Bee’s shaking things up, not just as a woman, but as a feminist.
Here’s a video with Samantha Bee sharing her thoughts on her show’s seven Emmy nominations and Donald Trump’s administration with Gold Derby editor Daniel Montgomery.
[Featured Image by Frederick Brown/Getty Images]