Fresh off of ABC firing pro-Trump Roseanne Barr for a racially charged tweet about a former Obama adviser, TBS defended comedian Samantha Bee for her vile comments about Trump’s daughter. While the two fireable offenses are not the same — Barr’s had racist implications while Bee’s was just plain tasteless; Barr’s was off-the-cuff while Bee’s was scripted — many have drawn comparisons for obvious reasons: Two networks were faced with a decision about what to do with two female stars who made repugnant comments.
One of the striking differences between the circumstances of the two infamous remarks is the state of the two stars’ shows. After starting off with record-breaking ratings, Barr’s show had leveled off but was still bringing in strong numbers. Bee’s, however, has been struggling mightily for months. In fact, her ratings declines are so dramatic, one might ask why exactly TBS still has her on, vile Ivanka comment aside.
In a report Thursday, The Wrap details just how badly Bee’s show was struggling long before her “feckless” c**t” comment. Noting that Autotrader just pulled its ads from Bee’s “Full Frontal,” The Wrap’s Tony Maglio underscores that TBS really can’t afford for her to lose any more ad revenue because it’s “already absorbed a blow in ad revenue generated by her weekly time slot”:
Year-to-date, Bee’s Nielsen ratings are down 34 percent among adults ages 18-49, which is the demographic most-coveted by primetime advertisers. Isolating just millennials, a label assigned to adults ages 18-34, she’s shed a whopping 47 percent — or nearly half — of her 2017 viewership.
In terms of total viewers, “Full Frontal” is down 29 percent year over year.
Maglio notes that her “really bad” numbers are also “about the same when isolating Q2 2018 vs. Q2 2017 and the entire fall/spring season-to-date.” Bee’s decline, he theorizes, is likely connected to anti-Trump fatigue. “She had a lot of buzz when the show first began — this is now Season 3. And the further we get into Donald Trump’s presidency, the less liberals are turning to dissenting TV programs to find an ally,” he suggests.
As Maglio highlights, Bee has deliberately shaped her show as anti-Trump. Here’s Bee admitting as much in a glowing interview with a clearly sympathetic AdWeek in early May. “The show has been called ‘a tragicomic feminist primal scream in the Trump era.’ Do you agree with that characterization?” the interviewer asked.
“I accept that description of myself,” said Bee. “I mean listen, this isn’t the administration that we thought we were getting, not that the show would be supremely different. We would still be doing the same types of stories somewhat; it’s not like all the problems of the world were going to suddenly evaporate if we had a different president. But I definitely feel like we would be on a more stable footing, which would be nice. You might imagine in a Hillary Clinton world that you could take your foot off the pedal for one second and not key yourself into the news.”