Is Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer impersonation a case of SNL jumping the shark? SNL has recently had a heyday with President Trump and his staff’s antics. Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of Press Secretary Sean Spicer as a blustering blowhard with a violent streak has raised a lot of comment over the past couple of months. Spicer himself weighed in on McCarthy’s impression on Fox and Friends, saying, “It was cute. It was funny. I would rather us be talking about the issues that the president is so committed to helping Americans on, but you know, it’s part of American culture.” Sean Spicer even made a humorous reference to one of the skits when during a White House briefing he let loose with “Don’t make me make the podium move.” Spicer also weighed in on the Trump impersonation by Alec Baldwin which he feels has gone from “funny to mean.”
Just this Saturday night, a retracted story from the Washington Post that initially described Sean Spicer as “hiding in the bushes” sparked a new Spicer skit. The skit also addresses rumors Trump had fired Press Secretary Spicer. The show’s cold open touched on the recent interview between Lester Holt and President Trump.
In February, SNL enjoyed its highest ratings in 20 years, but as recently as early March, ratings have begun a dip. Melissa McCarthy has become a popular favorite among many viewers of the late-night variety and sketch show, but recently with ratings dropping after record highs shortly after Trump’s inauguration, some are speculating as to the causes. Accusations of some of the political skits being forced, mean-spirited, or having little to no basis in reality have been lodged against the show by viewers on both sides of the partisan aisle.
According to Deadline, SNL‘s May 6 episode hosted by Chris Pine “averaged 6.919 million viewers overall and a 1.87 rating in adults 18-49 in official fast Live+Same Day numbers that include the live audiences on both coasts plus unduplicated viewers from 11:30 encores in western markets.” It was “down from SNL‘s first truly live installment three weeks ago hosted by Jimmy Fallon (7.880 million viewers, 2.27 adults 18-49 rating).”
Howard Warner at American Thinker chalks this up in part to the satire becoming overblown and unbalanced.
“In the past, Tina Fey played Sarah Palin so well that the quotes of each were confused; Fey could see Russia from her home, but not Palin. President Ford, a real athlete, was shown as clumsy. GHW Bush wouldn’t be prudent. These were funny attempts at caricature. By contrast, as the tweets between the Baldwin and Trump indicate, their feud is personal.”
Jesse David Fox laments that “SNL has never been more popular or less fun.”
“Because Trump is an all-consuming eater of galaxies, there is also less time and much less attention given to nonpolitical sketches. There was one great sketch from last week — ‘Youngblood’ — but it got lost in the shuffle the next day. Or look at ‘Pizza Town’ — a sketch that seemingly was meant to be the triumphant continuation of the David Pumpkins, Kevin Roberts, Space Pants universe — that died on the silliness vine. Though many of the writers and cast members believe in speaking truth to power, for the most part, that is not why they got into comedy.”
Sean Spicer was interviewed near Easter again about his opinion on the Melissa McCarthy SNL impression. Once again, Spicer seemed to take it in stride though he came off slightly miffed at the question regarding his Easter bunny tie. Melissa McCarthy as Spicer in an Easter Bunny costume of course swiftly followed. Meanwhile, the show has also been accused, like Stephen Colbert of the Late Show, of “punching down, not up” in their satire. Baldwin’s anti-Trump persona belies the fact that he has been accused of some of the same sorts of homophobia and intolerance as the president. The Mary Sue takes offense at SNL for going for the easy laugh and blaming LGBTQ and identity politics in general for Hillary Clinton’s failure to be elected. SNL is playing a complicit part in the “normalization of marginalization.”
“For starters, this joke is one made at the expense of trans and non-binary people. The expense is made against an account that’s already vastly overdrawn, one that actually has never really seen better days, and one that will, most assuredly, not see any for quite some time. By taking a swipe at something as affirming as the acceptance of trans and non-binary people as people worth loving or dating, SNL has opted for a cheap laugh, one that further cements the viewpoints of those who seek to dehumanize and demonize us.”
The president has famously taken to Twitter to complain of SNL‘s one-sidedness. Oddly enough, even certain cast members, such as Michael Che, are in agreement.
“I honestly agree with him. Oddly, I agree with him. We try to write that way. But the thing that Donald Trump doesn’t understand is that when you’re that ridiculous, it’s kind of hard to talk about anything else. You have this ridiculous orange billionaire doing stranger and stranger things, what else is there? But I do agree with him. I think the show should show all views and we make a conscious effort to do so. That’s why I loved “The Bubble” sketch. That was a great sketch poking fun at ultra-liberals,” Che told Esquire in a 2016 interview.
Lorne Michaels offered a simple reason for why SNL tended to take more aim at Republicans than Democrats in a 2014 interview with Vulture: “Republicans are easier for us than Democrats. Democrats tend to take it personally.”
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]