You’d think Saturday Night Live, with its obsession for having Alec Baldwin play President Donald Trump, would have figured it out by now: Whatever criticism is leveled at Trump in a prominent cultural setting, he’ll respond with the obstinacy of a mule. SNL decided to satirize the supposed conflict in the White House between Steve Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as to which adviser has the ear of — and a future with — the president. I fear the result may be that the sketch will tip the balance toward the Devil We Know rather than the Devil We Don’t, and give the odious Bannon more job security.
The show opened with Trump-Baldwin presiding over a Bachelor-style* competition between Steve Bannon (portrayed as usual in a Grim Reaper costume that in Bannon’s worldview is a compliment, not an insult) and Jared Kushner (host Jimmy Fallon). I won’t bother quoting the terrible jokes contained in this bit — after the line about Trump having dropped a bomb “so big and fat, it looked like me in my golf clothes,” things just got worse. In the end, Trump declared that Kushner could stay, and had Bannon dragged off to “join Kellyanne Conway in the basement.”
Since Bannon is nowhere near exiting the White House, and since Trump is fixated on Baldwin’s mockery of him, there’s a reasonable chance Trump watched, and will be influenced to do the opposite — to find new value in Bannon if an enemy like SNL despises him. This would be, after all, typical of the way our current president makes policy decisions. (Side note: Why was this a Bachelor parody rather than an Apprentice parody? Did Lorne Michaels get a call from Jeff Zucker telling him not to rag on an NBC property?)
Melissa McCarthy’s Easter-themed Sean Spicer sketch was just a little better. The SNL writers at least had the nerve to have Spicer whine about the media pouncing on “every little slur and lie I say.” But SNL repetition prevailed: Once again, Spicer-McCarthy illustrated Trump policy positions with toys. (I did like the use of VeggieTales dolls to do this.) But you’ll forgive me if I didn’t join in with the studio audience’s hee-hawing laughter at the line about enjoying this holiday, “probably our last Easter on Earth.” For some reason, I don’t find apocalyptic joking during this North Korean-dominated news weekend amusing.
*A kind reader has pointed out that this was an America’s Next Top Model parody, not a Bachelor parody. I’m obviously ignorant about my reality-competition shows; thanks for the correction. My curiosity about why it wasn’t an Apprentice parody still stands.
Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. on NBC.
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