'Saturday Night Live' Addresses, Excuses Away Show's Race Problem

'Saturday Night Live' Addresses, Excuses Away Show's Race Problem

Saturday Night Live addressed the racial makeup of its cast last night in the show’s opening sketch.

It’s a bold move for a show routinely accused of lacking diversity, and having a talented black actress like host Kerry Washington as the vehicle for such a discussion made sense.

Whatever credit the show deserves for attacking the situation head on got lost when the Rev. Al Sharpton appeared to absolve the show of its alleged sins.

The sketch featured Obama impersonator Jay Pharaoh greeting Michelle Obama (Washington) by saying it feels like years since he’s seen her. SNL hasn’t had a black female cast member for some time, leaving no one available to impersonate the First Lady.

Washington is then asked to impersonate both Oprah Winfrey and Beyonce, reinforcing the limitations of the show’s mostly white cast. A text crawl apologizes to the host for asking her to play multiple roles as a result. By contrast, six white male actors show up playing Matthew McConaughey.

Message sent.

The sketch wraps with the Rev. Al Sharpton, a host on NBC sister station MSNBC, addressing the audience directly.

“What have we learned from this skit? As usual, nothing,” Sharpton said.

What, no outrage?

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