If you’ve been having... or trying to have... or working up the nerve to have difficult talks about the news cycle around sexual assault, then perhaps you’ll relate to this Saturday Night Live sketch from Saturday’s episode.
Or perhaps you’ll roll your eyes. It’s a dinner scene featuring SNL host Will Ferrell, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Kenan Thompson, Beck Bennett and Heidi Gardner, who cautiously asks if anyone’s read the New York Times Op-Ed about Aziz Ansari. Fear, dread and discomfort consumes everyone at the table, as each person registers the tension that’s about to arise, the offensiveness that’s about to be on display, and the nuance that’s about to get lost.
A sketch where people tiptoe around a topic is the most SNL way for SNL to handle the issue by not handling it. The point is to acknowledge this stuff is hard (which they do) and talk past the discomfort, but they never quite get there—“We are in a post-Babe.net universe now and we have to finish what we started,” McKinnon insists. The sketch could’ve ended with, say, the server interrupting with a strong stance against clear sexual violation, but I’m no comedy writer.