NBC’s Saturday Night Live didn’t make it through the culture wars of the last 40 or so years by sticking its neck out for politics. But this week, the show’s cold open dove right into the furor over the potential state-by-state banning of abortion after the draft of a decision leaked from the Supreme Court.
Because Justice Samuel Alito pulled one of his arguments from a centuries-old British jurist who put women to death for witchcraft, the sketch is set in 13th-century England. The first odd thing is that the guest host — who rarely puts in an appearance during the cold open — is front and center. Of course, when you’ve got Benedict Cumberbatch as host, it’s a bad idea to do a British-accented sketch without him, so it was probably an easy call to make.
Joined by Andrew Dismukes and James Austin Johnson as fellow lawmakers, the trio navigate the choppy waters of the abortion debate while also lauding how progressive they are for the year 1235 – they poop in a hole that dumps into the moat, left-handed children are thrown into the river, and people are punished by sailing them off the edge of the world to be eaten by one of the four giant turtles holding up the Earth.
Things get spicier when Cecily Strong shows up. A few months back, Strong was responsible for one of the sharpest segments the show has put up in years – using the metaphor of clowns to talk about her own abortion. After Kate McKinnon gets an applause break when she enters, “An ogre!” cries Cumberbatch. “No no. Just a woman in her thirties.”
All in all, it seemed like a pretty lousy time to be alive. Maybe just a bit worse than our time? At least we have a better Plan B. (Or is that Plan Bee?)
Watch the clip by pressing PLAY above, then grade the episode!