Throughout Tuesday's debate, Twitter users predicted that Saturday Night Live would have a field day with the first debate when it returns this week for Season 46, featuring the return of Alec Baldwin as President Trump and Jim Carrey's debut as Joe Biden. As Shawn Cooke notes, however, Saturday Night Live has struggled to parody the chaos and cruelty of Trump for the past 5+ years. "Although major media outlets tried to reduce the debate to a both-sidesy stew of sparring, barbs, and insults — which wasn’t completely untrue, with Biden calling Trump a 'clown,' the 'worst president in American history,' and 'Putin’s puppy' — it rather deliberately misses the forest for the trees," says Cooke. "Rudeness and leaky-brained crosstalk are considerably different from empowering white supremacist militia groups, but a media apparatus so tailored to presenting a view from nowhere that alienates no one couldn’t acknowledge this. Despite its caricatured, squinty, purse-lipped portrayal of the president, SNL is in no better position to reckon with this distinction. The Proud Boys heard the president’s message to 'stand back and standby' loud and clear, lending the group a marketable slogan and making them an immediate household name if they weren’t already. Trump was given an opportunity to further spread mail-in voting conspiracies, which he ably ran with, and tacitly called on his militia boys to keep an eye on the polls in November. Where’s the punchline in all of this, exactly?...SNL’s been especially unequipped to confront tangible fascist threats in the past five years, by more or less reenacting the news with slight exaggerations. This is really all that can be expected of a major network sketch comedy series that infamously brought then-candidate Trump onboard to host in 2015, and has always been the playbook even before Trump. Its gaze is channeled directly through cheeto man bad liberalism as much as middle-ground political tourists, but it’s uniformly after a viewership that’s isolated from the most harmful elements of the administration."
TOPICS: Saturday Night Live, NBC, Alec Baldwin, Alex Moffat, Bowen Yang, Chloe Fineman, Chris Redd, Chris Rock, Colin Jost, Donald Trump, Jim Carrey, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Maya Rudolph, 2020 Presidential Election, Trump Presidency