In an effort to highlight the struggles currently facing the people of Puerto Rico, Samantha Bee, host of the weekly late-night talk show Full Frontal, headed to the island devastated by Hurricane Maria last September for Wednesday’s upcoming one-hour TBS special, The Great American Puerto Rico.
“The main objective was to let Puerto Ricans on the ground tell their own story of what the experience has been like,” says Bee, 48.
“You go around the island and watch people rebuilding their lives, their homes and the island. It’s a fascinating place. I don’t think a lot of mainland U.S. citizens really understand Puerto Rico at all,” she adds. “A lot of people don’t even know that Puerto Ricans are American citizens.”
Bee and her team spent over a week in February on the ground filming and highlighting stories from different people, many of whom are still living without electricity since the hurricane hit in September.
“It’s hard to imagine living without power for six months. It changes everything about the life you once knew,” explains Bee. “You don’t have a refrigerator or laundry. What if you use insulin and suddenly don’t have a fridge to keep your insulin cold?”
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While filming, Bee experienced a firsthand account of the electricity shortage while sitting on her hotel balcony. “I saw the lights start pulsing and cascading up and down through the whole city and then everything just went dark. There is a period where you are like, ‘what is happening?’ It’s unsettling.”
The Full Frontal team will also be producing charitable T-shirts in Puerto Rico until the end of 2018 with all proceeds going toward the Hispanic Federation’s hurricane relief efforts.
“We should still be paying very close attention to this story and demanding more from our government. It’s unthinkable that we let them flounder for this long,” says Bee. “It’s unthinkable that over 100,000 people still don’t have power six months later and have no hope of getting power anytime soon.”
The Great American Puerto Rico airs Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on TBS.