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Saturday Night Live Gives America What It Wants: Leslie Jones Playing Trump, Who Is Still President

This week Saturday Night Live devoted itself fully to its somewhat unexpected new mission: pissing off the president of the United States. Sketch after sketch seemed to have been reverse-engineered from things that would enrage Donald Trump. And what could be more enraging to a man as sexist, racist, and TV-obsessed as Trump than being played by a black woman on television? (SNL’s staff will no doubt be pondering that very question on Monday morning, assuming they haven’t been shipped to Guantánamo by then.) So Leslie Jones stepped up to the plate and took on Trump’s hair and suit for a brief sketch about, well, her desire to play Donald Trump.

Jones is a great choice to try her hand at the role for reasons other than demography: She has long been a target for Trump’s worst supporters and was briefly driven off Twitter after abuse spearheaded by Tori Amos plagiarist Milo Yiannopoulos.* (She returned after Yiannopoulos was permanently banned.) It’s the kind of casting decision that could launch a thousand think pieces, which explains why the other cast members talk to Jones about it in thinkpiece format. (Melissa Villaseñor, who asks, “Is this like a sendup on his fragile masculinity?” seems to have read Christina Cauterucci’s article in Slate about that very topic.) It seems like a no-brainer., at least once Alec Baldwin steps down.

There’s only one problem with this otherwise perfect casting decision: Jones’ Trump impersonation is terrible. “People keep casting me as somebody who always yells,” Jones yells at Lorne Michaels after he wisely passes. “I’m trying to show you I got range!” So in just over three minutes, Saturday Night Live packs in a concept that will piss off Donald Trump to no end, a meta-joke about the skewed incentives in the age of the cultural conversation for SNL to preach to the choir instead of being funny, and a meta-meta-joke about the way the show has used Leslie Jones. As a bonus, the reasons it will drive Trump and his allies up the wall also serve to publicly expose their lack of character. In short, it’s just what we all needed right about now.

On the other hand, Donald Trump is still the president of the United States of America.

*Correction, Feb. 21, 2017: This post originally misspelled Milo Yiannopoulos’ last name.