'Full Frontal' Showrunner: 'It's A Feminist Show Because We Are All Feminists' "But it's not a show about women stuff," Jo Miller says. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee covers refugees, mental health, prison and climate change, among other things.

'Full Frontal' Showrunner: 'It's A Feminist Show Because We Are All Feminists'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/466306540/466317696" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Comedian Samantha Bee made her name here.


DREW BIRNS: From Comedy Central's World News Headquarters in New York, this is "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart."

MCEVERS: But now, her name is on her own show.


SAMANTHA BEE: Welcome to "Full Frontal." I am Samantha Bee finally here in my studio for the very first time.


BEE: Yes, I know - and during an election year, Thank you to the sweet baby Jesus.

MCEVERS: "Full Frontal With Samantha Bee" premiered Monday on TBS. It's a weekly half-hour show that riffs on the news. Bee is currently the only late-night TV host who's a woman, something the show took on from the very beginning.


BEE: Anybody have any question - oh, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: Is it hard breaking into the boys' club?


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: What's it like being a woman in late night?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: How can I watch your show as a man?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: What's it like to be a female woman?


MCEVERS: Jo Miller is one of those female women. She's the showrunner of "Full Frontal," and she joins us now from her offices in New York. Hi there.


MCEVERS: We just played a clip of that sketch from the first show. It's all about being a woman in late-night, especially a late-night host. I guess you guys get that a lot, huh? And here, I'm about to do it too.

MILLER: A little bit.

MCEVERS: (Laughter) I mean, how do you feel about the attention beyond, you know, kind of rolling your eyes at it?

MILLER: I mean, obviously it's going to be a thing that people comment on, especially after that Vanity Fair spread came out and reminded us that she's alone at the moment in late night. She's not the first. Chelsea had a late-night show.

MCEVERS: That's right.

MILLER: But now that we have a show, I think that people will start talking about the content.

MCEVERS: I see. And we should just say Chelsea Handler is who you're talking about.


MCEVERS: Would you consider this to be a feminist show?

MILLER: It's a feminist show because we are all feminists. I mean, all the men and women here are feminists. So everything is through the lens of our opinion and our take on life, but it's not a show about women stuff. Have stories about women. We also have stories about refugees and men and mental health and prison and all kinds of things. You know, as women, we're also worried about just the economy and climate change and...


MILLER: ...Not because of our vaginas but because we like living on the planet.

MCEVERS: (Laughter) Yes. Could you talk about the hiring process that you created for the writing staff on the show?

MILLER: You know, I am really happy you asked that because there's been a lot out there in the press that has oversimplified it, and we've kind of been getting credit for, like - oh, we have such a diverse staff because we had a blind process for reading scripts and we did outreach. Well, that's not just us. All the shows in "The Daily Show" family have always done blind submissions. It's the only way to be fair. And all the shows do active outreach to try and get women and people of color to apply.

I would never have been a writer if "The Daily Show" hadn't told their staff, hey, go find your funny female friends and make them apply. Like, I had to be kind of browbeaten into applying because I didn't think I was good enough. And we can do better. I consider our outreach sort of a failure. You know, it - we had - I really tried to get people of color to apply. We had - less than 10 percent applicants were people of color. We have to do better.

MCEVERS: There is a lot of competition, obviously, in late-night TV. How is this show trying to differentiate itself from other shows?

MILLER: Well, we're on at 10:30, so we're not opposite anyone (laughter), which is nice.

MCEVERS: Right - helps.

MILLER: What's different with us is Sam's voice and Sam's point of view. It's called "Full Frontal." She does not pull any punches about her genuine emotions. Some of the lines in the show that I can't repeat on the air were straight from her heart in rehearsal. And we were like, well, you have to say that...


MILLER: ...In the show because that's genuine. That's how you feel. And...

MCEVERS: Right. And there's also - but she's not sitting at a desk, you know, doing the, like...

MILLER: She's not at a desk. We don't have guests...


MILLER: ...Because we only have 30 minutes a week minus commercials. So we really wanted to fill it with comedy. And also, if you have guests, you kind of have to worry about, will people come on my show after we've said horrible things about them on the air? So we don't have that worry.

MCEVERS: For you as the showrunner, I mean, you just got started. What keeps you up at night? What are the thing you're most worried about?

MILLER: Everything.

MCEVERS: (Laughter).

MILLER: I'm sort of a wound-up, neurotic first daughter, you know (laughter)?

MCEVERS: That sounds familiar.

MILLER: I don't stay up at night anymore. Before the first show, I wasn't sleeping at all or eating. My main worry that - was that I was going to fail Sam. And after our first show and it went well, I think we're all sleeping a lot better now even though we kind of have to start with a blank slate again every week.

MCEVERS: What's your dream for the show in a couple years - world domination?

MILLER: (Laughter) Our dream for the show - I just want to keep doing this and keep getting better at it. We're brand new.


MILLER: You know, I was at "The Daily Show" for six years, and we kept raising the bar and getting better. Jon was never satisfied, and he always raised the bar and wanted to do better shows and dive deeper and hit harder and be funnier. And I hope we're two-years funnier in two years.

MCEVERS: That is Jo Miller. She's the showrunner of "Full Frontal With Samantha Bee" on TBS. Thank you very much.

MILLER: Thank you.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.