Monday, May 10, 2010

As Betty White leads classic Saturday Night Live episode, the absence of female-driven funny is all the more apparent.

There has already been much talk about whether Betty White's kick-ass performance on an instant-classic edition of Saturday Night Live might boost opportunities for older women in the entertainment industry. But what crossed my mind as I watched the show last night is how absolutely invisible the current female cast is. Seeing past leading ladies such as Tina Fey, Molly Shannon, Rachel Dratch, and Maya Rudolph return and dominate the Mother's Day edition was just a cold reminder of how underutilized the current female cast really is. Sure Kristen Wiig still does her goofy characters and if anything she occasionally hogs the sketches she appears in (as did Will Ferrell back in the day). But the other three females currently on the show (Nasim Pedrad, Abby Elliott, and Jenny Slate) are generally relegated to appearing as window dressing, whether figuratively (appearing as the token female half of a couple in a male-dominated sketch), or literally (as glammed-up singers in the background of a Kenan Thompson game-show parody). Considering the events of last year, when Michaela Watkins was fired from the show for apparently being too gorgeous to be considered funny, while Casey Wilson was allegedly canned for apparently being too 'overweight' to be a female comedy performer, it's an ominous thing that the show currently seems to all-but hide its female talent. It would seem that the female-dominated mid-2000s, when Fey, Poehler, Rudolph, and Dratch were on equal playing field with the male cast members, was not a step in the right direction but a random fluke.

Scott Mendelson


Melissa Silverstein said...

Couldn't agree with you more. I don;t understand why more people don't see this as an issue.

Lisa Douglass said...

I miss Fey's writing on SNL. Fortunately, she's published recently in The New Yorker on the subject of gender in comedy. I fear you are right that the strong core of women on SNL was just a fluke. Now we're back to male-centered comedy with women as garnish.


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