Tina Fey and Amy Poehler returned to SNL Saturday to host the final episode of 2015 and they brought with them their special brand of social satire. With a refreshing tone of subversion charged by their own brand of feminist humor, Tina and Amy brought the kind of social satire the show has failed to produce recently.
Although SNL‘s political parodies continue to challenge the state of current affairs, their social critique has fallen away to make room for more outlandish characters from Kenan Thompson, laid-back videos from Beck and Kyle, and the recurring girls-will-be-girls anthems from the female members of the cast, which have all played up the fun, leaving the burden of social critique to viral parody videos. Tina and Amy, never afraid to push boundaries, performed sketches that raised awareness of such women’s issues as age and beauty with a sketch about trophy wives, parodied the exclusively tall and thin girl squad of Taylor Swift, and exposed the rapist implications of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
Apart from the excellent parody of the Republican presidential debate, the satirical highlight of the night came from a new game show called “Meet Your Second Wife!” in which three men are presented with the girl that will be their second wife, as their current wife watches in horror from the audience. Satirizing the trophy wife theme of men who leave their old wives to date younger, hotter young women, Tina and Amy, as the hosts, present each man with a girl who is perpetually younger.
The first second wife for Bobby Moynihan comes out, and much to his, and the audience’s horror, she is only 12 years old. He is immediately disgusted by the prospect of leaving his wife for a girl so much younger than him. “But what if I told you that in a few years one of your novels becomes a surprise bestseller and is even optioned for a movie?” Tina asks. “Oh yeah, then yeah, no, I get it now,” he responds. As the show continues, the next future wife can hold up her age on one hand, and the last is far younger than that as Tina and Amy explore and heighten the absurdity of their critique, even playing on racial issues as Kenan repeats, “Don’t be white. Don’t be white,” before his future wife is revealed. The Huffington Post wonders if they went too far. The answer is no. This is the kind of pointed satire the show should absolutely produce.
Tina and Amy also brought back two of their favorite political figures as Poehler’s 2008 Hillary Clinton visited Kate McKinnon’s 2015 Clinton to warn her that she was confident in her race until, “someone named Barack Obama stumbled out of a soup kitchen with a basketball and a cigarette, and stole my life.” 2015 Clinton has a few warnings of her own, “Here’s a little sneak peak: Benghazi,” she says, then later slaps the phone out of 2008 Hillary’s hands when she prepares to send an email.
Tina Fey returns as Sarah Palin to reminisce about the 2008 election. “That was a real fun election, I was paired up with that cute little John McCain fella, may he rest in peace, I’m guessing.” But her real contribution to the conversation is a string of non sequiturs, and also, America, but also, just watch and see.
It is now no secret that the Christmas classic, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” sounds like a rapist anthem as the man in the song persistently tells the woman he’s trying to seduce that it’s too cold for her to leave. Meanwhile, she asks “What’s in this drink?” before literally saying, “The answer is ‘No,'” in the second verse of a much longer song. In the third segment of this Time Life parody, Tina plays a young woman singing the song with Bill Cosby, and after only a few lines, when he hands her a drink, she says, “Nah, something’s up with that,” and walks out. Read The Washington Post‘s take on the song here.
No modern satire of women’s issues would be complete without a parody of Taylor Swift’s tall and thin girl squad. Tina and Amy’s “Dope Squad” is a little more realistic, featuring their nannies, the lady at the diner who knows their order, the gynecologist they share, and, of course, Amy Schumer.
Tina and Amy only returned to Weekend Update to tell one joke each, but it was nice to see them behind the desk together once again.
This was by far the best episode of this season so far, and one can only hope this relatively young cast learned something from the greats this weekend, and will make more of an effort to consistently bring substance to even the most absurd sketches and bring the social satire back to Studio 8H.