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As Betty White Leads Classic SNL Episode, the Absence of Funny Females Is Apparent

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There has already been much talk about whether Betty White's kick-ass performance on an instant-classic edition of Saturday Night Live might boost opportunities for older women in the entertainment industry. But what crossed my mind as I watched the show last night is how absolutely invisible the current female cast is. Seeing past leading ladies such as Tina Fey, Molly Shannon, Rachel Dratch, and Maya Rudolph return and dominate the Mother's Day edition was just a cold reminder of how underutilized the current female cast really is. Sure Kristen Wiig still does her goofy characters and if anything she occasionally hogs the sketches she appears in (as did Will Ferrell back in the day). But the other three females currently on the show (Nasim Pedrad, Abby Elliott, and Jenny Slate) are generally relegated to appearing as window dressing, whether figuratively (appearing as the token female half of a couple in a male-dominated sketch), or literally (as glammed-up singers in the background of a Kenan Thompson game-show parody). Considering the events of last year, when Michaela Watkins was fired from the show for apparently being too gorgeous to be considered funny, while Casey Wilson was allegedly canned for apparently being too 'overweight' to be a female comedy performer, it's an ominous thing that the show currently seems to all-but hide its female talent. It would seem that the female-dominated mid-2000s, when Fey, Poehler, Rudolph, and Dratch were on equal playing field with the male cast members, was not a step in the right direction but a random fluke.


Scott Mendelson

For a side-by-side comparison between Betty White's last sketch of the evening and a classic Christopher Walken sketch from ten years prior, go here.