This week’s episode of SNL felt like it had something to prove, though what that was never became entirely clear.
If its intention was to prove that Kerry Washington brings a spark of energy to most anything she touches, it succeeded. If its intention was to prove that Jay Pharoah has grown into more than just a skilled impressionist — and judging by previous seasons, not without a considerable amount of work — then it succeeded. Further, it succeeded in addressing – but only addressing – the elephant in the room that is the lack of diversity in its cast.
SNL proved that it can still do what it has always done: slyly address an issue with comedy and confidence, without feeling the need to offer any real solutions or insight as to how to take care of the problem. Perhaps Al Sharpton said it best (what???): “What have we learned from this…as usual, nothing. Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!” Let’s hope he won’t be right forever.
Last night’s episode was full of sketches that left you confused but intrigued, maybe not laughing your hardest but probably wanting more. Diversity was the word on the tip of everyone’s tongue, including the show itself’s, going into this week’s episode. After Kenan Thompson’s remarks to TV Guide a few weeks ago that the lack of a black female cast member since Maya Rudolph left the show in 2007 is due to the show not being able to find black female comedians who “are ready,” the choice to have Kerry Washington host this week seemed appropriately timed.
Whether she was utilized to play every black female in the news who has been ignored in sketches for the last six years, or whether race was taken off the table altogether… No, scratch that, race can never really be taken off the table. And hot damn, did Lorne Michaels ever put race all over that sketch table last night!
If Thompson says the problem is black female comedians not being ready for the show, perhaps Washington has a break from Scandal coming up, because girl was ready. Even in the most middling sketches, Washington’s energy and commitment to an array of characters was the best part. Here’s to you, Ms. Washington. Let’s take a look at one of the more confusing (and probably divisive) episodes of SNL in a while:
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