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

SNL's LGBTQ+ performers assure youth that, yes, it will get better—then incrementally worse

Bowen Yang
Bowen Yang
Screenshot: Saturday Night Live

It was unobtrusively groundbreaking to see all four LGBTQ+ characters in a Saturday Night Live sketch played by LGBTQ+ cast members (plus host Dan Levy.) Bowen Yang, Punkie Johnson, Kate McKinnon, and Levy are all proudly out, making their turns in the show’s parody “It Gets Better” public service advertisement especially potent.

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Taking off from the now decade-old campaign to assure LGBTQ+ kids that, no matter what an extra-hellish nightmare their schooling experience has been, things will, indeed, get better, the commercial finds just the right tone. With the four now-adults looking back on their own participation in the campaign as teens, the inspirational music and clips of celebrities like Adam Lambert and Zachary Quinto speaking about perseverance and hope give rise to old familiar feelings, with Yang’s successful journalist and musician assuring everyone that things did, for sure, get better. At least until he posted some mild semi-criticism of Chromatica online. “And then, somet—within that better is, there are some things that are, like, eh, less better,” chimes in McKinnon’s happily married mother of two.

Still undeniably awash in the good feeling engendered by the very vocal support of society (or at least a well-intentioned ad campaign) so many years ago, all four participants have to concede that adulthood has brought its own raft of not so much better as different issues. Gay marriage is great—but gay divorce sucks. If you’re the half a lesbian couple who chooses to wear basketball shorts, stresses Johnson’s teacher, anyone looking for a fight will pick you. And don’t get Levy’s artist started on income taxes. “I know that’s not exactly what you guys do,” he states, “But I’m just saying some stuff about taxes would have been extremely helpful.”

But it’s McKinnon’s lawyer-professor and mom who really nails the issue—of your beloved children getting tired of that enormous pet iguana you couldn’t help but buy them. “It figured out doorknobs,” the terrorized McKinnon states of the now-massive “evil dinosaur” pissing all over her hardwood floors. Plus, while it’s about fucking time that LGBTQ+ partners are largely afforded the same hospital visitation rights as straight couples, she would be remiss if she didn’t begrudgingly express her displeasure that her wife is actually currently in the hospital with serious iguana bites. As Levy told today’s LGBTQ+ youth while pointing to a teenage photo, “It definitely got better for this guy. So much better that he got to have problems previously only available to straight people.” So remember, picked-upon, bullied, and downtrodden youth of America—it gets better. And then, like all adults, a little bit worse every day until you die.


We should point out that the It Gets Better Project is currently in its 10th year and continues to work to uplift, empower, and connect LGBTQ+ youth around the globe. For more information, visit www.itgetsbetter.org.

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