Emmys: Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee Score Noms in Trump-Era Shakeup


The late-night talk shows have all been feeling the Trump effect since the former Celebrity Apprentice host was elected president on Nov. 8, 2016. And now the Emmys are feeling the Trump bump too.

Thursday’s Emmy nominations saw a major shakeup in the outstanding variety talk series field, with Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee’s respective entries finally breaking through, and recent nominees Jimmy Fallon and Jerry Seinfeld’s shows subsequently getting pushed out.

Those surprising changes in the once-stable, predictable genre are no doubt after-effects of President Donald Trump’s surprising victory over Hillary Clinton in November and his inauguration in January.  Both Colbert and Bee — who are not coincidentally both alums of the politically charged Daily Show — have leaned into that previous experience for their new shows. Bee has emerged as an important female critic of the new administration in an otherwise crowded male playing field, selling  “Nasty Woman” T-shirts to support Planned Parenthood and even hosting the Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner special in April.

However, Thursday’s nomination was a more stunning change of fortune for Colbert, an Emmy winner in the same category in 2014 (before talk and variety series were separated) and whose Late Show was completely shut out of the Emmy discussion in 2015. (Bee, meanwhile, earned a writing nomination last year.)

After a rocky first year at the Late Show, Colbert found his voice apart from his ultra-conservative (and beloved) Comedy Central alter-ego in the early days of Trump’s presidency. Colbert’s monologues have become more politics- and news-driven, and he has done more live shows timed to Trump’s inauguration and his first congressional address. In June, the CBS personality traveled to Russia — currently in the limelight for its involvement in the 2016 presidential election — for a several special segments and interviews that will air next week as “Russia Week.”

Colbert scored an impressive six nominations overall, including recognition in the writing and directing categories for The Late Show and three for his Showtime special. Bee earned seven, including a second best writing nomination for Full Frontal and four for her Not the White House Correspondents Dinner special, including best variety special.

However, the Trump bump did not extend to Late Night With Seth Meyers, which has also leaned into more political coverage in the past year. (Meyers, however, did earn a writing nomination.)

The other nominees in the category include Jimmy Kimmel Live, Real Time With Bill Maher, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver and The Late Late Show With James Corden.

However, to make way for Colbert and Bee, that meant The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon as well as Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee didn’t make the crowded category. This is the first shutout for The Tonight Show since Fallon took over in 2014.Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee had only made its debut in the category last year.

The Tonight Show‘s absence from the category also comes after Fallon faced widespread criticism for his softball interview style when he tousled President Trump’s hair when the then-Republican nominee appeared on The Tonight Show in September, two months before the election.

While Bee and Colbert clearly got a boost from the recent political turmoil, their shows will still have to face other topical entries like Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, the reigning champ, and repeat nominee Real Time With Bill Maher, which earned another nomination despite recent controversy surrounding host Maher and his use of the N-word on a recent episode, for which he later apologized.

It remains to be seen whether the Trump bump will also translate to an Emmy win for either Bee or Colbert, with the latter also set to host the Sept. 17 ceremony.

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