Despite its current surge in popularity and an established direct pipeline to the president himself, Saturday Night Live proves with every episode that it’s incapable of producing noteworthy political comedy. Take this sketch from last night’s episode, where host Melissa McCarthy revives her Sean Spicer impression one more time. It doesn’t really say anything. There’s nothing insightful or even funny here about the administration’s incompetence, its hostility towards the press, or its indifference towards the Constitution—its surface-level recognition of those issues amounts to reference comedy instead of legitimate satire. That’s what SNL’s political comedy largely comes down to, a simple recap of news from comedians in wigs. This sketch in particular isn’t really about Trump or Spicer at all, but about the characters of Trump and Spicer that SNL has created and trotted out week after week all year. This is less political comedy than the 2017 version of the Gap Girls or the Whiners. And the kicker is a punchline that’s a same-sex kiss (although by differently-sexed actors) because apparently “what if they’re actually gay?” is a funny joke in the SNL writers’ room. Considering the show’s large audience and the huge amount of attention it gets with every episode, Saturday Night Live could actually serve as a valuable source of satire today. Instead it’s content to remain the same tired, hidebound show it’s been for decades.
Check back later today for Paste’s review of last night’s episode, which featured Melissa McCarthy and the music of Haim.