EXCLUSIVE: How Samantha Bee Took 'Full Frontal' to Iraq and Discovered Her First Pro-Trump Story
By Stacy Lambe
Fresh off an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Variety Talk
Series, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
-- the first female-led series to be recognized in the category -- is taking audiences
behind the frontlines of the Iraq war against ISIS in Kurdistan.
Although Bee has taken the show on the road during the 2016 presidential campaign, filmed an alternative White House Correspondents’ Dinner in D.C. and reported from the Syrian border, it’s the first time the host has gone to Iraq -- a trip she completed in just four days during Ramadan in June.
On Wednesday, the TBS show will run the first of two episodes dedicated to their field coverage produced by Razan Ghalayini, a documentary filmmaker-turned-field producer on the show who is also responsible for Full Frontal’s visit to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan during the first season.
“In watching the news, you realize that all the ISIS
coverage is on the frontline. While it's super interesting and important, it's
not all there is in war,” Ghalayini tells ET about the inspiration behind going
to Iraq. Interested in showcasing a rarely seen part of the war, she wanted to
take the show to the backline, which is usually manned by female soldiers -- in this
case, Kurdish Peshmerga female fighters. “Sam wanted to go see women who are
often the backbone of keeping society functioning [and find out] how are they
doing? What are they doing?”
Once on the ground, 50 miles from the frontline, where Ghalayini
expresses that she and the team felt completely safe, Bee marched with the
women, paid homage to Jared Kushner’s GQ-inspired
outfit he wore during his visit to the country, and talked to “nasty women,” the
show’s moniker for fans who stand up for women’s rights and are “helping to
pave the way for a brighter future.” In the segment that will air on Wednesday,
Aug. 9, Ghalayini promises audiences will meet what the producer describes as “complete
“I think it was Sam that said their feminism makes our
feminism look like the patriarchy,” she says. “They’re very empowering and
smart -- just really, truly remarkable women.”
However, one unexpected first for Full Frontal is the show’s first pro-Donald Trump piece. In its
run, the show has taken on the president for his anti-female policies and degradation
of women during the 2016 campaign. In doing research for the trip to Iraq, Ghalayini
was surprised to discover people in Kurdistan support Trump. Soon she and writer
Melinda Taub realized they had to take it to Bee, who was 100 percent behind
doing the segment.
“So we have a more traditional field piece about women in
conflict -- their role in war and peace -- and this other one, like, ‘Why do the
Kurds love Trump?” Ghalayini says, with an air of disbelief, of the piece that
airs Wednesday night, adding: “To hear someone sing Trump’s praises in another
language is only more bizarre than in English.”
During a recent visit to The
Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Bee revealed “there are so many babies
being born named Trump -- male or female.”
While the discovery of Trump supporters in Iraq was
initially a surprise for Bee and the team, getting to travel abroad was a real
enjoyable experience. And for Bee, it's "a critical piece of the show that I would never want to do with out," she tells Variety. "It would really deprive me of the opportunity to go places and do field pieces and learn about the world."
Taking the show on the road is also an opportunity that Ghalayini says allows for the host
to be in a place where it doesn’t usually attract people like her. “Whether it’s
Kurdish women who are running a women’s center or a bunch of dudes on the
street who love Trump, I think there’s something special in the unexpected,” she offers.
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on TBS.