There are better seasons of SNL, and there are lesser ones, and there are constantly views that it ain’t as good as it used to be, which generally means that we’re comparing it to the edited-down versions of the better seasons. As such, there’s no great surprise in me or anyone saying that thus far, we’re in a particularly weak and laugh-free seasons.
However, this week’s show with Halle Berry went beyond merely being unfunny. It was racist, not just in a single slip of taste that one might see from time to time on the show, but in a repetitive way that made it clear that folks there really don’t care. Had the skit about loud, ignorant black women violating the quiet enclosures of a Benihana restaurants been the only item of concern, I’d have just shrugged it off as a character choice…. but follow it up with Weekend Update bits built around how American Indians are out of touch with the larger culture and Chinese folks are only good as acrobats and a pattern emerged, and a sad pattern it is.
Add to the racism an opening skit built around an actual rape trial, multiple attempts to belittle folks for not being as famous as they used to be (hey guys, Joey Lawrence is the lead in a new sitcom; how many of you will be able to say that in ten years?), and a general desperation, and you have signs of a show that, if not on its last legs (never count SNL out), is at least in need of same major new energy.
(Side note: this was the first time I realized that one of the new cast members is Kenan, of Kenan & Kel. I hope they manage to make good use out of his amiable presence.)