Kerry Washington hosted “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) without her gladiators. She was the lone ranger in more ways than one. Not only was she without her gladiator squad she was also without any African American female cast support. Did the reigning Scandal queen shine as the lone ranger?
Entangled in a season of controversy surrounding the absence of diversity “SNL” thought it would be funny to open the show with Washington playing the role of first lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and next an “almost” Beyoncé.
Washington opened the skit playing the glowing Flotus for seconds before the script called for Oprah Winfrey to appear. It quickly became apparent to all the viewers that Washington would need to transition into another role as Oprah. Soon after it was announced the Beyoncé had shown up and Washington immediately took that opportunity to mention the issue about Kenan Thompson’s unwillingness to take on drag roles.
As Washington made her transition from Michelle Obama to Oprah SNL’s producers scrolled an explanation of why all of this was taking place.
The scene ended with the suave appearance of the Reverend Al Sharpton who addressed the viewers with the question, “What have we learned from this sketch?” which he quickly answered, “As usual, nothing.”
The thought process behind the cold opening of this episode was to address the brick that’s hit “SNL” dead in the face; no black female cast members.
Washington, who is known for style as Olivia Pope, was forced to make quick hairdo and outfit changes in order to fully adopt the personalities she portrayed. All of this was a spoof to make light of the debate “SNL” is facing.
They didn’t stop there; they reintroduced the diversity issue when the six new Caucasian cast members all portrayed actor Matthew McConaughey; at the same time.
Did Kerry Washington shine as the only black woman on the show? Was the scene effective in tackling the controversy of SNL? Did it at least lead them in the right direction?
The issue of race was addressed a couple of other times as well. Once during a skit called “How’s He Doing?” which was set in a talk show format. This skit staged Washington as an intellectual, nonpartisan black woman and the topic of discussion was whether or not President Obama could do anything that would cause him to lose their support.
It’s obvious that it will take more than one episode to rectify the “wrongs” of the “SNL” saga. Time will reveal whether the episode was authentic or sarcastic. The Reverend Al Sharpton said that it contributed nothing to the apparent issues of the show. His words, I’m guessing, were just another part of the “script.” Let’s hope they weren’t prophetic.
The lack of diversity on “SNL” has really become an issue. The two black cast members, who are male, don’t want to wear drag anymore as a temporary method to bridge the gap.
Currently among the 16 featured cast members currently employed on “SNL,” none of them are black women. Only four out of the 137 people, who have been casted on the show since it premiered in 1975 on NBC, were black women. The most recent was biracial Maya Rudolph. She was cast on the show in 2000 and left in 2007. Rudolph, like many others, rose to prominence during her “SNL” tenure.
Lorne Michaels, the show’s founding producer, is known to keep the casting process fairly secretive. He is still the SNL’s top executive and is aware of the issue. He said it won’t happen overnight but he is on the lookout for potential black women to add to the roster.
Washington hosted “Saturday Night Live” this past Saturday and was the lone ranger as the only black woman. Not only was she there without her gladiator squad she was also without any African American female cast support. Did Kerry Washington shine as the lone ranger?
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)