Samantha Bee’s Holiday Special Is a Reminder That She’s the Master of the Political Spectacular
Last year, Samantha Bee hosted her “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner” as a response to the fecklessness of the actual WHCD and the erosion of integrity in the relationship between the press and the White House. It was an incredible event, as Bee managed to translate the scathingly incisive commentary of a regular episode of Full Frontal into a star-studded, music-filled spectacular spectacular.
Now, Bee is back at it with a holiday special titled “Christmas on I.C.E.” Like the NtWHCD, it’s a whole lot of fun being done on a big scale, but it also commits to exploring a serious issue–in this case, the recent actions of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
That sounds like an impossible balance–exploring the currently dire state of immigration while also putting on a genuinely fun holiday show–but Full Frontal does it well.
Bee tells us right off the bat, “The world is dark, but tonight, we are going to bukaki it with joy. It is a half hour slathered with tinsel and trees and carols and skating and celebrity cameos. Your hearts are going to swell with goodwill towards your fellow humans if it is the last fucking thing I do.”
Aside from one “Band Aid”-style song about eggnog, most of the segments combine the holiday theme with the political analysis rather than separating the two, and it works. Some are more news-based, like a step-by-step breakdown of what it’s actually like to come to the US as a refugee, or a look on who harvests Christmas trees (spoiler: it’s immigrants!); some are more Christmas-special-y, like “I.C.E. on Ice,” touted as “the only guide to fighting the excesses of immigration and customs enforcement that’s also an ice show!”
As fun and funny as these bits are, they still do justice to the subject matter, handling it with the gravity, empathy, and–of course–unfiltered rage you expect from this show.
Plus, the special is actually accomplishing some quantifiable good. The show was a benefit for Kids in Need of Defense, which provides immigrant children with legal representation. (Text KIND to 40649 to donate.)
They also finished off the show with a seriously incredible HGTV-style house-flipping segment designed to help provide resources and legal aid to people being held in detention centers.
Make sure you watch to the end to see Sam’s brief sign-off, where she takes on the idea of supporting I.C.E’s horrific practices while also identifying as a Christian. “If you’re not doing your best to show compassion for the poor, the weak, the sick, and yes, the immigrants, then you are doing Christmas wrong, I don’t care what the hell is on your Starbucks cup.”
“Jesus loves me and he hates Fox News” is how I will be ending all conversations in 2019. Thank you, Sam Bee.
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