‘Saturday Night Live’ wastes Octavia Spencer’s gifts

 Saturday Night Live
Octavia Spencer & Father John Misty
March 4, 2017

I’m not here to criticize Octavia Spencer. She’s great, she did her best with the material she was given, and she clearly has a sense of humor. So it’s not her fault last night’s Saturday Night Live was a steaming pile of meh. No, all the blame lies with the writers who had all the material in the world they could have possibly asked for, and in turn they gave us … Spencer’s Gift jokes.

It has been two weeks since Saturday Night Live‘s last episode, and in that time the following (as well as much much more) happened:

Trump claimed there was some sort of terrorist incident in Sweden that absolutely did not happen; Trump imposed draconian deportation orders for undocumented immigrants — orders that would go so far as to send even non-Mexicans to Mexico — and Trump referred to related ICE raids as “military raids” which Sean Spicer later claimed should be thought of as an “adjective”; Trump rolled back all sorts of environmental protections; Trump’s choice for Navy Secretary withdrew his name for consideration; the whole Milo Yiannopoulos thing exploded; there were several anti-Semitic acts of vandalism and bomb threats which Trump remained silent on for weeks; Trump’s Department of Justice and Department of Education rolled back protections for transgender students; Priebus asked the FBI to knock down stories about Trump associates’ contacts with the Russians; The New York Times, CNN and other media outlets were banned from a White House press briefing; Trump attended CPAC and said a bunch of crazy things about the media being the enemy of the people; the Department of Justice said they would be cracking down on legalized recreational marijuana around the same time it was announced that private prisons will be back in use for federal crimes; an Indian man was shot and killed in Kansas by a man screaming “get out of my country!”; Sean Spicer tried to crackdown on leaks from his own office by doing random phone checks — a story that was promptly leaked to the media; Trump announced that he would not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Dinner because the press are mean and hurt his fee-fees; George W. Bush goes on a media tour and basically calls Trump out for being an authoritarian asshole who can’t handle being made fun of; Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education releases a statement praising the education system under Jim Crow; Trump accuses Obama of being behind the leaks and organizing protests against him; Trump blamed the generals for the Navy SEAL’s death in the botched Yemen raid; it was revealed that Jeff Sessions met with an Russian ambassador twice in 2016, lied about it under oath and is forced to recuse himself from any investigations into the campaign; Trump addressed Congress and asked them to put aside “trivial fights” to help Americans, and he is praised by pundits for looking Presidential when he uses the widow of the Navy SEAL whose husband he got killed as a prop during the speech; Trump tells Historically Black College presidents that “you people” are doing a great job, while Kellyanne Conway kneels on the Oval Office couch, shoeless; the White House waves away any indication that Conway will be disciplined for hawking Ivanka’s clothing line on television; the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee claims that the head of the FBI is withholding information on the Russia probe; it is revealed that Jared Kushner and Mike Flynn met the Russian ambassador at Trump Tower in December; Mike Pence was revealed to have used an AOL account for official business, including sensitive emails about Homeland Security, an email account that was hacked; it’s revealed that the White House nixed an ethics course for employees; Trump blames the Democrats for dragging out confirmation of his cabinet even though the Republicans have a majority and he hasn’t submitted names for some of the positions; and finally citing no evidence whatsoever, in a series of unhinged tweetsTrump accuses Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower, and then tweets an attack on Arnold Schwarzenegger and Celebrity Apprentice ratings.

And Saturday Night Live decided to return with a cold open comparing Jeff Sessions to Forrest Gump so that they could make a joke about The Help.


It’s not that the sketch is terrible, it’s not terrible, it’s  just that it feels like this time could have been used for something … much sharper. Sure, making Jeff Sessions out to an addle-brained man-child and portrayed by a woman might make Trump think Sessions is “weak.” But this whole sketch just felt like a single idea (“What if we made Jeff Sessions eat a shit pie?”) that was stretched out for five boring minutes. Not even Kate McKinnon can save this one.

Grade: C+

Octavia Spencer’s monologue in which she shows her “resting nurse face” was pretty OK! Bonus points for no singing!

Grade: A-

One of the highlights of the episode was this movie trailer spoof celebrating the brave Republican who dared to stand up to Donald Trump. Bravo, TBD.

Grade: A+

There is a segment that Seth Meyers does every so often where he brings out a black female staff writer and a lesbian staff writer to come out and tell all the jokes that he, a straight white man DEFINITELY can not tell. That same unease about white privilege clouds my feelings about this sketch in which black women sue a pharmaceutical company for stealing black names for their drugs. Am I even allowed to laugh at this?

Grade: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This digital sketch in which a woman can’t just sit at a bar without being hit on by “nice guys” and then called a bitch is TOO REAL.

Grade: A+

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In this sketch, voice actors do impersonations of a bunch of celebrities in the laziest attempt yet to justify hiring Melissa Villaseñor. YOU’RE NOT EVEN TRYING HERE, GUYS. Pathetic.

Grade: D


This digital sketch takes the worn-out trope of a wise old man teaching a troubled youth life lessons via chess and turns it on its head. This sketch has a certain sweetness to it that makes a kind of obvious joke work.

Grade: A

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Here’s your “Weekend Update.” First of all, y’all had SO MUCH MATERIAL to work with from the past two weeks. PLEASE REFER TO THE TOP OF THIS POST. And this is the best you guys could come up with? Everyone needed to try harder. Your homework is to watch Late Night with Seth Meyers and learn how to write a damn joke.

And points deducted for that Women’s History Month joke, Michael Che. I am so done with your lazy misogyny, dude.

Grade: C

Better was the visit to the “Update” desk from the Trump boys.

Grade: B+

And Laura Parsons, kid reporter is back. I know she’s supposed to be irritating, I get that that it’s part of the joke, but MY GOD, SHE’S SO IRRITATING.

Grade: B-

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Hey, you know what is funny? Making fun of low-wage workers for being stupid is always funny.

Grade: C-

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In this sketch, Cecily Strong plays a white woman who tries waaaaay to hard with her new black friend. It starts off well, but then completely falls apart halfway through. I’m going to say something that I’ve never said before: this sketch would have been better if it had been longer. It needed more of Strong’s character being obliviously racist for the whole joke to work.

Grade: B-


You know what’s always funny? Workplace violence is always funny.

Grade: F


The ENTIRE joke in the final sketch of the night is that Octavia Spencer’s last name is Spencer, just like the novelty store. That’s it. That’s the joke.

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Grade: D

Final Grade: B- You have your digital shorts for that grade, guys.

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Next week: Scarlett Johansson & Lorde

Saturday Night Live airs at 10:30/11:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC.

3 thoughts on “‘Saturday Night Live’ wastes Octavia Spencer’s gifts

  1. Seriously. Who are the writers these days. The political scetches are the only ones that have been good to brilliant. And, as you wrote, there aren’t nearly enough considering the rich material. I would also get rid of 3/4 of the cast members, who are really bad; then there are a few I absolutely love who are so underused.

  2. It was so bad I turned it off in the middle. But I don’t know why you are complaining that it didn’t have enough liberal interpretations and bias. It had plenty of that. There was hypocrisy. Making fun of Mr. Sessions for having a southern accent and implying that this makes him mentally deficient is not a social justice warrior kind of thing to do. Wait I forgot. Yes it is a SJW thing to do. It’s fine to demean southerners. After all they must all be trumpets.

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