You’d think a bombastic reality-show-host president who never stops creating controversy would be a bottomless gold mine for Saturday Night Live — so why do SNL‘s Donald Trump sketches feel so tired and toothless?
Last night’s season finale featured yet another cold open starring Alec Baldwin’s President Trump, this time with him singing Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” along with wife Melania, VP Mike Pence and eventually Robert De Niro’s Robert Mueller. Baldwin’s appearances as Trump have been disappointing for a while now — the actor himself seems bored with the role that won him an Emmy — but this may have been a shockingly unfunny low point. What, exactly, is the comedic point of having President Trump and his cronies sing a Queen song together? The live studio audience seemed stunned and barely laughed, and the whole thing felt more obligatory than inspired.
That’s really the problem here: SNL feels compelled to tackle Trump, but it doesn’t really have anything funny or insightful to say about him. Baldwin’s parody of him has devolved into predictable shtick, and the writing never has the courage to actually address the very serious issues his administration and our country are facing. To be blunt, the world is on fire right now — Leslie Jones’ Weekend Update monologue railing against the abortion bans in Georgia and Alabama spoke to that with a righteous fury — but when it comes to Trump, SNL is merely standing on the sidelines offering limp jokes about his tweeting habits. It’s afraid to alienate anyone on either end of the political spectrum, so it ends up satisfying no one.
I know that Baldwin’s Trump, along with Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton, brought a surge of attention and ratings to SNL during the 2016 campaign, and it’s understandable that SNL would want to keep riding that wave. But that wave is over. It might be time for SNL to consider letting a cast member play Trump: Baldwin’s limited availability makes it tough for them to jump on breaking news, and maybe someone else could bring a fresh spin to the role. (And the sooner they lose De Niro’s wooden Mueller impression, the better. Who could imagine one of our greatest living actors could be so stiff?)
But really, it all comes down to the writing: If Saturday Night Live‘s best idea for parodying Donald Trump is to show him singing and dancing in an utterly pointless sketch, it’s better off not having him on the show at all.
Are you still enjoying SNL‘s take on Trump, or are you ready to vote it out of office? Share your thoughts in the comments.