Recent Saturday Night Live sketches portray President Trump and his administration as incompetent, negligent and unqualified. While SNL, whose audience generally leans liberal, may be preaching to its own choir, it is doing a great job of it.
I appreciate SNL because it provides a coping mechanism for people like me who oppose Trump. On Sunday mornings my family and I watch clips from the previous night’s show, providing us with a brief but necessary reprieve from the reality of Trump’s presidency. I imagine that my family is not unique in this regard; SNL understands its audience’s dislike of Trump, and attempts to provide an escape from their distress through satire.
SNL could be criticized for its failure to reach out to Trump supporters and present sketches of unity. Instead of constantly deriding Trump, SNL could find less political topics to satirize or could try to bridge the divide in America. However, this is not SNL’s purpose; its primary purpose is comedic. Changing SNL’s satire to make it more accessible to Trump supporters would diminish its ability to expose the absurdity of Trump’s presidency. Such a change would appeal less to the show’s target audience and would undermine its ability to excite and encourage the opposition to Trump’s presidency.
The latter effect is particularly important. Current SNL sketches derive their power not only from their humor but also from their potential to make Trump’s opposition more passionate. If the potency of the sketches is reduced, then so too is the political activism they inspire. While it is perhaps more admirable to attempt to moderate our political discourse, that’s not the role of a satire. SNL should continue to relentlessly mock Trump, inspiring and encouraging the resistance—and perhaps even exposing those they mock to their lunacy.