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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Digging hard, Sam Bee uncovers a few positive pandemic changes we shouldn't rush to return to normal

Illustration for article titled Digging hard, Sam Bee uncovers a few positive pandemic changes we shouldn't rush to return to normal
Screenshot: Full Frontal/TBS

Finding unexpected, thoroughly inadequate silver linings to this global pandemic and its resultant quarantining might be like the Road Warrior uncovering one rusty can of dog food while scavenging for gas, but it’s something. And that’s where Samantha Bee is on Wednesday’s Full Frontal, except that the compensatory treasures she and her staff unearth could potentially have positive effects beyond the eventual promised end of this nightmare—but only if we’re not in such a hurry to return to “normal” that we forget how, in so many substantive ways, normal truly sucked.


Speaking as ever from the echoing woods outside her family’s survival bunker (it’s probably very nice), Bee started out by showing how one hard-working and no doubt sweaty citizen has taken to looming over too-soon Florida beachgoers (and the local reporters doing chipper stand-ups) in a Grim Reaper costume. Noting that it’s a bad sign when “the Grim Reaper is the most reasonable person on the beach,” Bee yet continued that there are even more reasons than avoiding an agonizing, dangerously contagious death to pump the brakes on splashing on the sun screen (Or, just to pick on uniquely, moronically American example, hyperventilating all over your fellow gun-fetishist conspiracy kooks at your state capital.) Titling her segment, “The Things We Should Have Been Doing All Along!,” Bee took a gander at the no-shit encouraging societal changes brought about by the long coronavirus shutdown that, she fears, the “everyone back in the overcrowded community pool” crowd will be all too quick to jettison.

Starting small, Bee asked why it took a pandemic and its small business-crippling self-isolation for some communities to allow restaurants and bars to deliver alcohol to customers ordering food. Handshakes can go air-kiss themselves into oblivion, too, according to Bee. More substantively, Bee showed—in a shockingly heartening montage of hard-pressed ingenuity and good sense—how, for example, some workers are waking up to the fact that their previous “You don’t work, you don’t eat” employment standards were conditioned to be inhumanly low. Paid leave and vacation time aren’t just for people who don’t need it might not be a revolutionary idea to the West Virginia hairdresser seen in Bee’s clip, but it certainly could be. Then there are the states (only a minority, but, still) finding a way to extend unemployment benefits to struggling members of the gig economy, self-employed, and (restraining a neck-breaking nod) freelancers, despite entrenched policies and software last updated in the 1970s.

And how about reducing America’s world-topping mass incarcerated population? Bee asks why it took a “literal act of God” to make judges wise up to the fact that putting low-level, sick, or otherwise vulnerable offenders into overcrowded jails is bad for everybody’s health. Food waste is being combatted by PR-hungry corporations who are actually buying and donating fresh-grown foods and donating them to the needy rather than letting them go to needless waste. Who gives a shit if it’s just so those companies can drum up good buzz—people are getting fed and farmers getting paid. The dreaded and predatory Big Pharma has followed the good publicity train by, in some cases at least, capping the ludicrous gouging on the cost of insulin, while insurance companies have realized that they, too, might be slightly less despised if they waive co-pays and deductibles for coronavirus-related medical costs. Don’t even get Bee started on the airlines, whose desperation for passengers has seen them similarly ditching those fees and scheduling restrictions that have made more and more people decide that staying the hell home is a whole lot more attractive (even before a pandemic). And, in the most enlightening (to the right people) and rage-inducing (to others) revelation, Bee showed how an FDA-approved research program is providing “telabortion” services in some states, mailing qualifying women the means both for safe, at-home termination and recovery.

So while we are all drumming our fingers waiting for the resumption of our favorite outdoor, non-solitary (or at least non-family) activities—BASEBALL—Bee reminded us that remedies born of calamity need not get tossed out like the last, stale crackers in the pandemic pantry once that crisis has abated. Which, you know, it will. Honestly.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.