South Park and the NBA may have gotten there first – figuratively if not literally – but Samantha Bee is heading to China. And she has some questions.
In a special episode of TBS’ Full Frontal With Samantha Bee taped earlier this month and set to air next Wednesday, Bee travels to Hong Kong to ask, as TBS says, “What the F@$% is going on there and what the H#%& is the solution?”
For the episode, Bee interviewed pro-democracy university students, pro-Trump “MAGA-wearing protesters,” VR developers, and a historian from the Tai O village. The interviews include both formal sit-downs and on-the-street reporting.
The typical Full Frontal episode includes only one field piece, but the Honk Kong episode will include two, due to the subject’s complexity.
“I think everyone there was as excited as I am that we’re covering the protests,” Bee said. “There was a huge march the day we left of hundreds of thousands of people – I’m sure it was in celebration of us being there and not people being excited we were leaving.”
In the statement, Bee said that, although she’s done other international stories, “Hong Kong felt particularly unique, and not just because none of my staff would try the mystery candies I brought back. What is dragon’s beard candy? No one knows!”
The Hong Kong segments were produced by Razan Ghalayini, who has produced the show’s previous international pieces in Jordan, Russia, and Kurdistan.
The Hong Kong protests have drawn the attention of various American media and entertainment brands, with Comedy Central’s South Park and the NBA likely tying for most attention-getting. Earlier this fall, South Park‘s mockery of China got Cartman and Co. banned and scrubbed from the internet there (series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone didn’t back down, poking fun at President Xi Jinping in a second episode).
The same month (October) that Viacom’s Comedy Central series entered the fray, other brands – the NBA, Apple, Activision Blizzard – made headlines of their own. The NBA stepped in it after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” prompting outrage in China and a sorta-apology from the NBA, which itself drew backlash in the USA.
Also in October, Apple stock rose a day after a leaked memo from CEO Tim Cook explained his decision to remove an app from the App Store after complaints from China.
Even more headline-making was Quentin Tarantino’s refusal to delete a fight scene from Sony’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood after relatives of Lee (the late actor was depicted in the film) filed a complaint with China’s film board.
Bee and Full Frontal – TBS is a WarnerMedia Entertainment brand – probably won’t hit the same cultural nerve, if only because the others got there first. But the world won’t know for sure until next week.
The Hong Kong episode of Full Frontal With Samantha Bee airs on TBS Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 10:30 pm.