Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

SNL lets NBC off the hook for that whole Trump town hall thing

Maya Rudolph, Alec Baldwin, Ego Nwodim
Maya Rudolph, Alec Baldwin, Ego Nwodim
Screenshot: Saturday Night Live

Okay, okay, Weekend Update host Michael Che did make a joke about Saturday Night Live network NBC “having a type” in enabling Donald Trump to self-program a competing town hall TV event on Thursday opposite Joe Biden’s previously scheduled one. (Cue graphic of NBC stars Trump, Bill Cosby, and Matt Lauer.) The COVID-positive Trump bailed on a socially distanced remote second debate, if you recall, with NBC controversially jumping at the chance to play ratings reality competition. Which they—and Trump—lost handily, by the way.

But SNL’s requisite cold open about the dueling gabfests began with a crawl claiming parent company’s ratings-grab was actually a “thirst trap” set for Trump, with Kate McKinnon’s acidly polite Savannah Guthrie promising viewers angry at NBC to just wait and see what her “surprise badass” moderator has in store. And, to be fair, NBC’s actual Guthrie did catch heat from all the right people for holding Trump’s usual whoppers, murderously incorrect COVID information, and variously retweeted conspiracy horseshit up to very pubic scrutiny. (Looking at your limp noodle, Chris Wallace.) Still, anyone looking for anything apart from the standard SNL mid-range effort to make up anything as starkly ludicrous as the average 2020 presidential (sort-of) debate has forgotten that Alec Baldwin’s Trump is still in the house. (Election’s in 16 days—vote and put all of us out of our misery.)

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With fellow scene-stealing A-lister Jim Carrey on board for the foreseeable future as Biden, Baldwin’s Trump did his traditional malapropisms and funny faces, and spoke barely exaggerated versions of Trump’s garbled, racist, and otherwise bananas statements from his Thursday event. Meanwhile, Biden’s specifics-heavy, bombast-thin town hall was interpreted by SNL (along with a seriously self-owning conservative shill on Twitter) as Mr. Rogers-bland, something that the itching-to-break-free Carrey livened up with a few rubbery dance moves. Maya Rudolph’s Kamala Harris, while not involved in the actual competing broadcasts, did pop in on Trump to point out that one suspicious Black woman nodding enthusiastically in the background of every shot. (“I need to get out of here, because this is some spooky-ass Jordan Peele nonsense,” Rudolph’s Harris exited.) Anyway, with the prospects for one more complete, in-person fiasco of a debate apparently not in our future, we’ll have to content ourselves with watching two stars taking pokes at SNL’s sketchy caricatures of each other. Honestly, we’re probably better off.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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