What do you think about Saturday Night Live’s portrayal of Trump?
"Did you see Saturday Night Live this past weekend?" This is a question that may have been heard quite infrequently these past few years. One may even have difficulty recalling the name of the cast member who played Barack Obama. However, the emergence of a political figure as extreme as Donald Trump begs for satirization. Like all political seasons, Saturday Night Live began doing skits during the primary debates. At that point, Trump was played by Darrell Hammond, known for his famous portrayal of Bill Clinton (among others). It was a decent impression that got a decent response. At the same time, SNL was getting some attention for Larry David's crowd-pleasing portrayal of Democrat Bernie Sanders during the primary season. Once Bernie dropped out of the race, however, SNL needed more star power for satirization of a political figure. They knew that since Donald Trump was around at least for several for months and was the GOP nominee, they had to go bigger than Darrell Hammond. Cue Alec Baldwin, one of the most frequent celebrity guests on SNL. When everyone talks about SNL Trump skits, they're thinking of the ones starring Baldwin. Rare is the mention of Darrell Hammond, let alone a preference for his portrayal of Donald Trump. The first Alec Baldwin skit was a parody of the first Presidential debate, co-starring Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton. Fans were surprised to see the familiar celebrity take the stage as Trump and do a stellar Presidential impression that was an overnight sensation. The writing was very well done, but it was Baldwin's delivery - along with hilarious facial expressions - that really brought this skit home. SNL did what they needed to do; a home-run Trump impression. After all, GOP satire is one of the most consistent successes that the show offers. One fondly remembers Dana Carvey's George Bush and Will Ferrell's George W. Bush. Even Chevy Chase's Gerald Ford - in the show's infancy - is still remembered and discussed. There was an unprecedented response to the skit that further generated popularity for SNL: the response from Donald Trump himself. Typically, the political satire on SNL is ignored by those who are being satired. Trump was different. After this skit, Trump took time to write on Twitter about how poor and unfair he felt the Baldwin impression was. In other words, everyone knew that the skit upset him and bothered him. For those who do not like Donald Trump, seeing him upset by something as harmless as a Saturday Night Live skit is quite amusing. This, in turn, encouraged Saturday Night Live to be even MORE over-the-top and MORE crass with the Trump impression. After all, when the President Tweets about your show, that results in increased viewership no matter how negative the Tweet is. People who might not have been aware about the skit will watch out of sheer curiosity. This was demonstrated in the next Trump skit, which was a parody of Donald Trump's infamous leaked tape where he bragged about how much of a womanizer he is. When the media was covering that story, SNL was right there with them. Alec Baldwin was back to do a parody of his television interview. The mannerisms from the previous sketch were back, but they were taken one step further by making him even more crude than the last time. And again, Trump tweeted. This pattern continued for the rest of the election season. Fans will remember the second and third Presidential debates being satirized. Each time, there was new material to move the Baldwin portrayal forward: Trump's gaffes, Trump's lurking on the stage during the second Presidential debate, Trump's quips ("Such a nasty woman"). The skits seemed to write themselves. After each one, Trump tweeted. Because Hillary Clinton was heavily favored to win the election, it is possible that SNL had intended for the Baldwin portrayal to end in November. After the election results surprised everyone, Alec Baldwin has continued to return as a guest for the one skit where he impersonates Donald Trump. An additional reason why the Trump satire is boosting SNL's ratings is that many Americans are infuriated by the new President's actions; comedy can be a catharsis in these situations. It is a method of coping with the anger we feel when we turn on the news or hear about what President Trump said or did recently. The SNL skits feel like a personal act of solidarity. Following on the heels of the Baldwin Trump skits, another skit has gone viral: Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer. With the popularity of these two portrayals, SNL has established a new pattern: employing guest celebrities to satire members of the Trump administration, increasing their viewership with sheer star power. With the rumors of Rosie O'Donnell playing Steve Bannon, it seems the days of keeping the recurring characters within the regular SNL cast seem behind us. This does seem like a shame because such vehicles gave lesser-known cast members a chance to shine and gain recognition. On the other hand, if Darrell Hammond isn't getting people talking anymore or clicking on the links, somebody has to. It might as well be someone who's hosted the show so often, they feel like a regular member of the cast. So what do you think about Saturday Night Live's portrayal of Trump?
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