Saturday Night Live sparked controversy but received some praise over several LGBTQ+ references in its skits last weekend.
On Weekend Update, a news parody segment, cohost (and SNL head writer) Michael Che came under fire for a joke referencing President Biden's reversal of his predecessor's trans military ban.
“President Biden signed an executive order repealing Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military,” said Che. “Yeah, it’s good news. Except Biden is calling the policy, ‘Don’t ask, don’t tuck.’ Which is not good news.”
The joke did not go over well with activists on social media. "What is Saturday Night Live’s weird obsession with transphobic nonsense?” wrote Charlotte Clymer. “It’s so lazy and sad.”
"I'm tired of our genitalia & our existence being discussed, obsessed about & laughed at," added Plastic Martyr.
At the end of his opening monologue, host John Krasinski also raised LGBTQ+ eyebrows by kissing cast member Pete Davidson; the gag was that fans of The Office wanted to see Jim kiss Pam, and for some reason Davidson would be an acceptable stand-in.
"I think they really need for someone to be Pam," Davidson said. "I think we've got to give them what they want. Jim, I think you have to kiss Pam."
While many did not object to seeing the two men smooch, others took issue with a same-sex embrace being viewed as a punch line. "Ending a comedy bit with two straight men kissing is not the same thing as accepting gay people and couples for who they are," David Oliver wrote in an op-ed for USA Today. "When something that should be seen as 'normal' is seen as 'spectacle,' we're moving in the wrong direction."
SNL has a troubled history with gay jokes and, more recently, quips that take aim at the trans community. However, as usual, lesbian cast member Kate McKinnon was a bright light for queer humor in the most recent episode.
McKinnon portrayed a version of herself interviewing various public figures, including QAnon supporter Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Cecily Strong), in a cold-open sketch called "What Still Works?" In an exchange with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey (Mikey Day) over whether his beard "works," McKinnon replied, "It's working in terms of keeping me a lesbian."
The sketch's fans include none other than Rachel Maddow. In a tweet, she called it "my favorite SNL cold open in about 100 years."
McKinnon was also a highlight in a Supermarket Sweep spoof where she and Aidy Bryant portray '90s game show contestants who are "very good friends" sharing "a one-bedroom home in Vermont." In the sketch, the pair comedically tackle closet culture while also succeeding at being a much more interesting and loving couple than their straight competitors.
All in all, it was a mixed bag on this week's Saturday Night Live regarding LGBTQ+ issues.