With SNL's 39th season coming to a close, we're taking a look at the past season with a series of posts examining the highs, lows, and other memorable moments from the past eight months. Here, we look at the show's shifting tone on race over the arc of this season.
This has not been an easy year for SNL to talk about race. From the moment the show announced its six new cast members — the largest turnover in more than a decade — and viewers noticed that not one of them was a person of color, SNL once again became a target of progressive viewers calling for the cast to [...]
"Zach actually was pretty nervous. It was funny to watch because this whole Between Two Ferns schtick – which I wasn’t familiar with before my staff told me that we had been pitched to do this – his whole character is to go after the guest, and I think he was looking around and seeing all these Secret Service guys with guns and thinking, 'I wonder what happens here if I cross the line?' But we had a great time."
- President Obama talking about doing Zach Galifianakis's Between Two Ferns on Ryan Seacrest's morning show (via Washington Post)
Here's the newest installment of Between Two Ferns that Funny or Die released today, which features President Obama trying to plug healthcare.gov while taking in all kinds of question topics from Zach Galifianakis, from pardoning turkeys to same-sex divorce to spider bites to birth certificates to what he plans to do with the whole North Ikea situation. Obama also shares some strong opinions about Bradley Cooper and the Hangover movies.
I never thought we would see the day when SNL considered itself newsworthy enough to parody. But it happened — not in the form of a quick joke during the monologue or Weekend Update, or a walk-on by Lorne Michaels, as has happened before — but with a whole cold open sketch, wherein host Kerry Washington was compelled to play numerous black female characters (Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce) because SNL literally had no one else who could do them. The meta-sketch also included a half-apologetic text scroll from the producers promising to fix the situation, unless they "fall in love with another white guy first," and a cameo by [...]
It snuck up on us, didn't it? The end of SNL Season 38 brought along with it key staff changes, among them the upcoming departure of head writer Seth Meyers and the immediate departures of cast members Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and (unofficially) Jason Sudeikis. Few people have shaped SNL over the past 8 years more than these men — Meyers with his leadership in the writers room and charm as Weekend Update host, and Hader, Armisen and Sudeikis as the cast's workhorses and loadbearing performers. Indeed, many pegged Season 38 as a "transitional year" in the wake of Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg leaving the show a year ago, [...]