Though it wasn't always clear if it could happen successfully, SNL returned to NBC this past weekend for its in-studio Season 46 premiere. With Fargo star Chris Rock as the guest host, the episode got off to a predictably rousing start, taking swipes at Ellen DeGeneres and serving up a cold open parodying the first (and possibly last) Presidential debate of the year. Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump faced the previously announced Jim Carrey as candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, and while most of the sketch lampooned the real debate's interruption-filled havoc, a few of the jokes directly commented on Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis.
To be expected, some viewers were critical about SNL making light of the current President's illness, especially when it's something as potentially serious as COVID. Alec Baldwin came to the show's defense, as well as the defense of his own portrayal, by saying the show wouldn't have included those jokes if the White House had made Donald Trump's situation out to sound more serious. Here's how he put it in a video on Instagram:
The way Alec Baldwin sees it, most of the creatives at Saturday Night Live are known to craft some pretty fucked up material that hasn't been seen (and arguably shouldn't be seen) by the public. These writers are no strangers to coming up with barbed and sometimes off-putting jokes and sketches, which is par for the course with any comedy series that has been around for nearly 50 years. However, the fact that all those rejected sketches exist does not necessarily mean that the writers only want to cover offensive and mean-spirited subject matter, including Donald Trump having serious health problems.
But as Alec Baldwin points out, reports coming directly out of the White House have painted Donald Trump's condition to be on the less serious side, despite the more balanced take that others have presented. Saying that the episode wouldn't have possibly kicked off without parodying the hot mess debate, Baldwin continued:
The jokes that Saturday Night Live did make about Donald Trump's COVID diagnosis weren't very egregious, beyond their existence in the first place. In one moment, Baldwin's Trump called the virus a hoax and declared that his statement "will not come back and haunt me later this week," while Jim Carrey's Joe Biden made another crack about it. You can watch the full cold open in the video below!
Earlier this year, SNL tried to make remotely produced episodes happen earlier in the year as a way to combat pandemic shutdowns, the vibe just wasn't the same, and while some of the material was pretty solid, a lot of it suffered due to a lack of an audience and togetherness. As such, it's great that the producers found a way to make everything come together safely so that Saturday nights could start getting silly again, while also still paying homage to real-world events.
SNL Season 46 airs Saturday nights on NBC at 11:35 p.m. ET, so be sure to keep checking our guest host and musical guest rundown to see everyone taking the stage in the near future. And then keep current with our Fall TV 2020 premiere schedule for all the other new and returning shows on the way.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.