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Talk Series See Emmy Boosts From Political Impact

The c-word didn’t sink Samantha Bee, but the streak is over (for now) for Bill Maher. And this year’s batch of Emmy nominations leave no doubt that the T-word remains a geyser of material for nominees.

TBS’ “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” became wrapped up in the cultural debate about whether the anti-Trump bent of late-night is sharpening the political divisions in the country. Bee apologized for calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless c—,” but there was still a big question about whether the vulgarity would nix her chances for back-to-back series noms. Bee weathered the crisis thanks to otherwise strong reviews and respect within the creative community. It also didn’t hurt that Bee’s vulgarity came over an issue that stirred widespread bipartisan outrage (Trump’s family-separation immigration policy).

Moreover, amid the industry’s focus on gender parity and diversity, this was not the year for Emmy voters to field an all white-male lineup for variety talk series.

Comedy Central’s “Daily Show With Trevor Noah” rode a wave of good reviews and buzzy moments to the show’s first variety talk series nom since the South African comedian’s tenure began in 2015.

Bee, Noah and their competitors — ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” HBO’s “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” CBS’ “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” and “Late Late Show With James Corden” — have one thing in common: a sharp focus on President Trump and related subjects. “Corden” is a slight exception, as it generates more buzz through the viral success of taped segments such as “Carpool Karaoke” and “Crosswalk the Musical.”

“Last Week Tonight” has logged back-to-back wins for series, but Kimmel could be the one to beat this year.
Kimmel made headlines for weeks by going toe to toe with congressional leaders and helped raised awareness of what was at stake in the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare.

There’s nothing Emmy voters like to reward more than cultural impact.

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