Has Saturday Night Live gone too far?


Photo Nate Lechner

Screengrab of Alec Baldwin and Jim Carey on SNL

Nate Lechner, R2 Op ed Editor

Throughout its 46 seasons, Saturday Night Live has never shied away from political satire and using its immensely talented cast to poke fun at some of the most well-known politicians in the country. 

From iconic impressions such as Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford, Dana Carvey as Geroge H.W. Bush and Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, to Alec Baldwin’s brilliant take on President Donald Trump, SNL has always been able to take the idiosyncrasies of political figures and embellish them into works of comic gold. 

While the satire of SNL is understood and part of the genius of the show, I think that the show has stepped over-the-line with their impressions and jokes. The politicians that the cast members are portraying are some of the most important people working in our country today, and there are times when the impressions of current political figures have been seriously offensive and acted as if the job that the politicians were doing is laughable, instead of the truth, which is that they are working to make America a better place and are making decisions which will impact the country for years to come. 

The bulk of SNL’s material this season is centered around the 2020 election and the nominees for the presidency and vice presidency. In addition to Beck Bennett reprising his role as Vice President Mike Pence and Alec Baldwin reprising his role as President Donald Trump,  the cast welcomed SNL alum Maya Rudolph back to portray Senator Kamala Harris and tapped comedy icon Jim Carrey to portray former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Although the tone of the show is always meant to make the audience laugh, in our political climate, the way the show addresses certain topics downplays the severity of the issues and is presenting the events in a negative light, even though the issues are critical to the future of the country. In a vice presidential debate sketch on Oct. 10, SNL mocked the recent events about President Trump’s health after being diagnosed with COVID-19. “As you heard from his primary physician Dr. Handsome Liar, Trump is in peak physical condition,” Bennet said, which was followed by disgust from a fake audience hoping that his health was not great. While this was played for laughs, the truth is that Trump is still the leader of the country and the health and safety of him and his advisors, especially leading up to the election on Nov 3, is no laughing matter. 

SNL also made light of President Trump testing positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 2 and then being released from the hospital on Oct. 5. In the season-opening monologue, Chris Rock, said, “my heart goes out to COVID.” When discussing Trump’s release from the hospital on Weekend Update, Michael Che compared Trump leaving the hospital to “when there’s a car crash and the only survivor is the drunk driver.” Even though this is supposed to be a joke, that is an absolutely deplorable thing to say about someone, especially the President of the United States. Both Chris Rock and Michael Che, although they may not support Trump, should be experienced enough on television to know not to openly wish harm to the President of the United States. 

No matter what you think about President Trump, he is still the leader of the country and him testing positive for a virus that has already killed over 215,000 Americans should not be taken lightly. 

Obviously, I understand that the jokes made on SNL are intentionally dark and meant to be appalling to the audience; however, in our current political climate, I think that there are certain topics that should not be mocked and could be addressed in a less comedic tone.