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On Saturday Night Live, beauty is in the eye of the writer’s room | On the Record

Upon watching the promotional clip for last week’s Saturday Night Live episode, hosted by actress Sydney Sweeney, it was glaringly obvious that the special was going to be a bust. 

It’s not that SNL has been any good recently. Viewership has been dropping over the years, and older generations of viewers are expressing less interest in the program. 

Annika Morris | Senior Graphic Artist

But while a lack of an audience can be somewhat attributed to generational reliance on streaming services and a declining number of viewers who remember the golden age of the program, the writing — which has faced scrutiny for being boring, lazy and just not funny — is a major contributor to this problem. 

That problem started to be on full display when the promotional videos for Sweeney’s episode — along with Kacey Musgraves as the musical guest — was released. 

The first was an awkward clip in which SNL cast member Michael Longfellow bumps into Sweeney backstage and proceeds to ask her on a date. In the second clip, Sweeney, Musgraves and SNL cast member Heidi Gardner promote the upcoming episode.

Sweeney introduces herself, and after a remark from Gardner about the all-female host lineup for the weekend, Sweeney — with a pseudo-confused look on her face — says “Weirdly, a lot of my fans are men.” Musgraves replied with a quip: “Hmm, I wonder why.”

Those two short lines set the precedent for what to expect in the weekend’s special — cheap jokes that started and ended with Sweeney’s appearance. 

Her opening monologue alone — which was at least a partial collaboration with SNL’s writers, regardless of how much she wrote — went for it from the gun: in a remark about how she keeps her figure, Sweeney responded with a wide grin: “I run, avoid sugar and do Ozempic.” 

She then showed a short PowerPoint that she used to tell her parents how she planned to make it in Hollywood. Her backup plan was to “show boobs” — what else.

Diets, weight loss drugs, exercise and more — for a comedy show, SNL has started to sound a lot more like “The Biggest Loser.” 

The SNL writers are consistent, even if they aren’t particularly funny. To just about everyone’s horror, Sweeney appeared in a Hooters-themed sketch in which she made $36,000 in tips, and in another where she flirts with a golden retriever. 

Most other jokes also relied on her appearance or other’s physical attraction to her to stumble their way to a punchline. 

SNL has long relied on the appearances of their female hosts to make jokes — who can forget Lindsey Lohan’s disastrous Hermoine Granger skit? What’s most depressing about SNL’s writing staff is how many of their jokes are still reliant on this beaten-to-death schtick.  

This hyper-focus on appearance isn’t just limited to female guests. Jacob Elordi, who co-starred in “Euphoria” with Sweeney, was SNL’s first host of 2024, and most of the sketches he was featured in also honed in on his appearance. 

One sketch in particular — set in an “women’s only” Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, with one pointed exception — was based around trying to get Elordi drunk so that the other group members could sleep with him. 

At a certain point, the lines begin to blur — are the SNL writers just making bad jokes, or are they so blinded by conventional attractiveness that they’ve been rendered comically stupid? 

What’s most unfortunate about these blunders is that comedy is a craft that tends to rebuff the ideals of beauty being important. It’s awfully ironic that beauty has eclipsed SNL’s writing and made it so terribly dull. 

Yes, many of the guests brought on SNL are conventionally attractive — but isn’t almost everyone in Hollywood? SNL writers are wasting their time centering jokes around something that has already been shoved down the throats of the public and in the faces of the stars themselves.

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One Comment

  1. I guess you forgot the Patrick Swayze Chippendales skit.