7:50am PT by Jackie Strause
How 'Saturday Night Live' Tackled the Awkward Aziz Ansari Conversation
Saturday Night Live captured the conversation surrounding what has become a controversial sexual misconduct allegation against comedian and former host Aziz Ansari with an awkward dinner discussion sketch Saturday night.
Three couples — made up of characters played by host Will Ferrell and Kate McKinnon, Kenan Thompson and Aidy Bryant, and Beck Bennett and Heidi Gardner — reluctantly attempted to share their feelings on the matter when Gardner brought up the heavily circulated op-ed in the New York Times by Bari Weiss, "Aziz Ansari Is Guilty. Of Not Being a Mind Reader." The piece called the allegation against Ansari, which was published anonymously on Babe.net, the "worst thing that has happened to the #MeToo movement." (Ansari said in a statement that he took the woman's "words to heart" and continues to support the "long overdue" movement.)
In the "Dinner Discussion" sketch, none of the friends sitting around the table can muster a full thought. Every time one of them does intend to express his or her opinion, another one interrupts with a warning of "Careful" or "Watch it."
"While I applaud the movement...I wonder if maybe we're setting it back," said Thompson's character, echoing what many in the media had said about the Ansari claim after it surfaced. Though there were others, however, who represented the opposite opinion.
When Bennett's character implied that if the woman "wanted to leave she could have just left," the lights went black and Ferrell's character kicked off a string of reactions: He shoved his face into his plate of pasta, Thompson stabbed his hand, Bryant cut off her ponytail and Gardner used magic to make herself disappear.
When Thompson brought up how the situation intersects with issues of race, SNL cued up an end-of-the-world montage.
After tackling sexual misconduct claims against figures like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Al Franken and more head-on, SNL nodded to the developing landscape with the dinner sketch, as claims continue to surface in the #MeToo era and public figures say the wrong thing. Matt Damon is one of the most notable celebrities to see backlash for his comments about a "spectrum of behavior."
“We are in a post-Babe.net universe now,” McKinnon summed up.
In addition to the timely sexual misconduct sketch, the NBC show also utilized host Ferrell in a short film commercial spoof advertising “Next for Men,” a sexual harassment deodorant “for men feeling the heat...because their time is coming up."
One of the men in the commercial is an actor, played by Alex Moffat, and is perhaps a nod to another recent SNL host who has become a topic of conversation over sexual misconduct allegations, James Franco. "I need an antiperspirant that's going to keep working with me, because no one else will," he says when walking on a red carpet. When asked by a reporter about allegations made against him, he adds, "Lots of women are brave, but this one is, um, a liar. And no comment."