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SNL's Elizabeth Warren is an acquired taste, like sushi, or butt stuff

Kate McKinnon as Elizabeth Warren
Screenshot: Saturday Night Live

With Alec Baldwin taking a no doubt mutually appreciated break from doing last night’s Saturday Night Live cold open, the stage was wide open for Kate McKinnon’s exuberantly on-point Elizabeth Warren to start the show with a full-steam-ahead pitch for both her candidacy and her Medicare For All plan. The Democratic candidate, in the ever-aces McKinnon’s portrayal, is nearly as focused and bullshit-avoidant as Warren herself, eagerly telling the sketch’s Iowa auditorium crowd, “I am in my natural habitat—a public school on a weekend.”

Gesticulating to stress her points, McKinnon’s Warren took on all comers as they questioned just how her total and mind-numbingly expensive plan to overhaul the admittedly venal and broken U.S. healthcare system could possibly work. And McKinnon’s Warren, like the real Warren, was strikingly forthcoming about how big a change we’re talking about here. Asked about the discrepancy between her estimate of $20 trillion and others’ estimate of $34 trillion, Warren explained patiently, “We’re talking trillions. When the numbers are this big, they’re just pretend.” Digging deeper into the issue with a comedic doggedness even the detail-oriented Warren could appreciate, McKinnon’s candidate also pointed out how, when Bernie Sanders floated Medicare For All initially, “Everyone was like, ‘Oh, cool!,’ but then they turned to me and said, “Fix it, mom!”

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Taking on everyone from Donald Trump “taking his talents” (and his tax dollars, such as they are) “to South Beach,” to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos (who’s “gonna go from paying no tax, to a tax”), to Joe Biden (“My plan compares favorably, in that it exists”), McKinnon’s Warren was out there throwing hands. Even at the one asker whose question about swing voters elicited Warren’s eager retort, “Ooh, way to subtly ask if I’m electable. Careful, that’s my kink,” tossing in a little hip sway for good measure. Staying with that theme, Warren went on to help out one fearful undecided voter’s wariness about ditching her current health plan for a potentially much better one by comparing her dilemma to having a crappy boyfriend. As this Warren enticed the tearfully wavering Iowan, change is scary, even when—as in the case of sushi or anal play—it’s ultimately worth the risk. Unknown at press time whether the Warren campaign has adopted that as a new slogan.

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Dennis Perkins

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