But while Zamata’s presence has failed to revolutionize the show (duh), it was nice to see that Black female characters could be played by an actual woman. Alas, we got something far more offensive to Black women than Keenan Thompson in a dress when Jones made her on-camera debut on the long-running “Weekend Update” sketch, reporting on Lupita Nyong’o’s “Most Beautiful” honor.
I missed the sketch, but was urged by writer/comedian Mary Pryor to check it out early Sunday morning. I was, of course, horrified. My anger changed shape over the course of the day. At first, I was disgusted that Jones dared make light of slave rape AND dismiss the significance of The Lupita Moment all in one fell swoop—and that she jumped and hollered like some sort of banshee while doing it. While I am typically disinterested by the concept of putting on a “good” face for White folks, it was appalling to see this sister gleefully acting like she was auditioning for Birth of a Nation 2: We’s Really Like Dis!
Leslie Jones is not a slave. She chose to both develop and perform this skit and for that reason, she should be ashamed of herself, but put her to the side for a moment. What about the producers, directors, cast members who watched this play out? No one said, “You know this is going to upset a lot of people, right?” SNL now has at least five Black actors and writers…one would hope that that would have been enough to stop this train. That is why we wanted Black women in the writers’ room in the first place, to prevent exactly this. Because I am willing to bet that had a Jewish writer conceived an ‘Anne Frank meets Justin Bieber’ skit after the singer made his regrettable comments about the young Holocaust victim, someone would have had the good sense to shut it DOWN.
— Once Again, No One Is Laughing At SNL, by Jamilah Lemieux via Ebony.com, May 5, 2014
By Arturo R. García
Expectations were high surrounding this past weekend’s episode of Saturday Night Live, as it unveiled a more diverse lineup both in front of and behind the camera.
While the ostensible lead was guest star Drake, pulling double-duty as the show’s musical guest, the show also marked the debut of Sasheer Zamata, the first woman of color in the ensemble since Maya Rudolph’s — who is of multi-racial heritage — departure. Zamata’s hire was precipitated at least in part by the furor over Kenan Thompson’s infamous “they never find ones who are ready” remark in November. But, perhaps even more crucially, the show also added two women of color to the writing team in Leslie Jones and LaKendra Tookes.
So far, the results appear to be positive: the show scored decently enough ratings-wise, and Drake’s performance has been well-received enough to suggest he should get the Justin Timberlake open-door policy.
But how do you feel the episode did? Did Zamata get enough opportunities to spotlight herself? Do the new additions make you more optimistic about the show? And is anybody else stuck seeing Rick Ross as a Red Teletubby now? Here’s a couple more videos for those of you who didn’t catch the show.