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Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal correspondents explain how Trump’s victory upended the show

“We didn’t have time to stop and indulge in every stage of grief.”

TCA Turner Winter Press Tour 2017 Green Room
Allana Harkin, Mike Rubens, and Ashley Nicole Black, Samantha Bee’s foot soldiers
Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for Turner

For those who expected Hillary Clinton to win the 2016 presidential election, the fact that it was Donald Trump who pulled off the victory came as something of a shock. But for the people who make late-night TV like Full Frontal With Samantha Bee — TBS’s weekly shot of righteous liberal hellfire — there was barely a single minute to process what had just happened before they had to write and produce a whole new reaction for a whole new reality.

Full Frontal had already planned a pair of episodes for election week: one for the night before Election Day, and one the night after. But Trump’s win sent the show’s creative team scrambling to figure out what might make the most sense to highlight about such a complicated election result — and what, if anything, they could salvage from the episode they’d already mostly written.

On this week’s episode of Vox’s I Think You’re Interesting podcast, host Todd VanDerWerff talks to Full Frontal correspondents Allana Harkin, Ashley Nicole Black, and Mike Rubens about the difficulty of readjusting to cover the Trump era — and how it was especially difficult to do so the week of the election.

“We were devastated the night of the election,” says Rubens, “and then had to come in the next day and fix everything.”

In fact, Full Frontal had already filmed and produced an entire montage to open the post-election show with a celebration of Clinton’s presumed win, featuring Bee high-fiving people like her old Daily Show colleague Jon Stewart. So on the morning after the election, Harkin said, they shot a new addition to the montage, so they could frame it in a way that would make sense under the impending reality of President Donald Trump. “We had to turn it into a dream,” Harkin said. “That whole morning, reediting that, was just soul-crushing.”

But for however much they were shaken by the election, all three correspondents VanDerWerff interviewed agreed on one point: The show must, and did, go on.

“You can’t indulge [your grief] too much,” Harkin said, “because you’re thinking, ‘There are a lot of people who are going to be greatly affected by what just happened.’”

“We didn’t have time to stop and indulge in every stage of grief,” Black said, later adding, “The moment we knew the outcome, we had to write a show.”

You can listen to I Think You’re Interesting on Apple Podcasts, on Android, or at its official page. To hear more interviews with interesting people from all branches of the entertainment industry — from powerful showrunners to web series creators to documentary filmmakers — check out the I Think You’re Interesting archives.