In the Cold Open of last night’s Saturday Night Live, “Scandal” star Kerry Washington was asked to play Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Beyonce. This was SNL’s opportunity to address its cast’s diversity problem, following Keenan Thompson’s remarks about the lack of black women in the cast this year. So after sauntering onto the set as Michelle Obama, Washington sprinted off to change into an Oprah costume while an apology scrolled across the screen (“we agree this is not an ideal situation and look forward to rectifying it in the near future”).
This was a likely a smart move for the show, but it did feel a bit like pandering. Washington’s annoyed off-stage response about not having time to change into Beyonce’s sparkly dress felt the like the best response (this is not the host’s problem to fix–this is SNL’s too rectify). In a bit of an odd moment, Reverend Al Sharpton appeared to close the cold open: “What have we learned from this sketch? As usual, nothing.” Well, there we are.
For the entirety of this episode, the writing struggled and warbled, though Washington expertly breezed through the sketches with humor and grace. There weren’t too many impressions for Washington after the opening skit and she excelled at going goofy, especially in an odd dating sketch called “Date or Diss.” And props for not putting in an easy “Scandal” sketch into the show, and allowing the actress to show off her range. Of course though, during Washington’s monologue, a series of cast members bounded onto the stage, mistaking Washington for her Olivia Pope and asked the fixer to solve their various problems.
Meanwhile, the best character of the night came from Kate McKinnon (not unusual) for her heartfelt Angela Merkel, who weepily scrolled through her embarrassing tiny emails (texts), afraid that the NSA would know what she was googling.
These sketches and more below: