Kerry Washington Helps “Saturday Night Live” Address Its Diversity Problem

After weeks, nay, months … nay, yeaaaaars of complaints from critics, viewers and cast member about the lack of any Black female cast members on “Saturday Night Live,” the comedy show final addressed its diversity problem on last night’s episode, hosted by “Scandal”‘s Kerry Washington (the first Black woman to host the show since early 2012). In the cold open, Washington played both Michelle Obama and Oprah, requiring her to change off screen in a direct nod to cast member Kenan Thompson’s recent refusal to continue playing any Black female characters in drag. The opener cheekily made use of the show’s bounty of white male cast members, sending out six of them as a bunch of Matthew McConaugheys. It was a funny start to what was otherwise a lackluster and at times cringeworthy episode. While Washington did her best with the material, the episode underscored “SNL”‘s need not only for a more diverse cast, but a more diverse writing team as well. Never was it more painfully obvious that the writer’s room at “SNL” is stocked with thirtysomething white dudes. That pageant sketch? Lord, help me.

The only other sketch I really enjoyed was “How’s He Doing?” featuring Thompson, Jay Pharoah and Washington. This had to be the Blackest sketch “SNL” has ever done. Thompson and Pharoah have never both been given this much material in one episode! The writing in this sketch was great too, although it felt to me like the “SNL” writers spent a day lurking on Black Twitter and ripped most of the script off the commentary there. White people and “The Wire,” man. SO TRUE. (I say this as a white person who fucking loves “The Wire.”)