Imagine, if you will, that you are the producer of a long-running live sketch comedy television program that airs from 11:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. on a major U.S. television program. It’s 12:45, the show’s running a little long, and something is going to have to be cut. You only have time to air one of the two sketches you’ve prepared for the evening—both of which, coincidentally, are parodies of works of popular art from the year 1994. Which do you choose?
• A meticulous recreation of a sitcom of the mid-1990s—specifically, the season seven Full House episode “Michelle a la Carte,” from March of 1994—which decontextualizes the television conventions of the time and the excruciating acting typical of the era, specifically J. Evan Bonifant’s performance as neighborhood bully “Kenny,” producing both laughs and the nagging sense that a culture that tries to teach its children about sexism through condescending very special episodes is riding for a fall.
• A group performance of Mariah Carey’s 1994 song “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” in which the lyrics have been changed to be about Special Counsel Robert Mueller, despite this being more than a little reminiscent of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert’s “Robert Mueller’s 12 Days of Christmas,” which made the same joke back when people were hoping Mueller would wrap up his investigation by Christmas of 2017.
As a programming decision in a business funded by advertising, it’s hard to argue with Michaels’ choice: Twitter is full of people praising the “All I Want For Christmas” sketch and lamenting its unexplained absence from Saturday Night Live’s YouTube channel. As a matter of quality, however, he chose … poorly. But there’s no reason you have to make the same mistake he did. Here’s yet another example of brilliant work from Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett getting pushed off the air in favor of toothless political jokes:
Now that is the sketch of a carpenter! It is easy to forget how deeply strange and deeply stupid television used to be whenever it tackled social issues, but it was deeply strange and deeply, deeply stupid. Here’s a taste of the original source material, subtitled in Portuguese. As you’ll see, Bennett and Mooney didn’t have to change much of anything:
My God. My God! If you’ve got $1.99 to spare, check out the full episode, which is even worse than the excerpt. It’s easy (and fun!) to look back at mental hygiene films from the 1940s and 1950s and laugh that anyone thought movies like “Beginning Responsibility: Lunchroom Manners” were a good way to transmit social norms to children. But the 1990s were at least as bad, and odds are pretty good that the vast majority of movies and TV shows made for children today are gonna look unfathomably misguided in 25 years or so. When that day comes, some TV producer somewhere is going to have to make the same decision Michaels botched this weekend. On behalf of the kids whose minds we are rotting right this second with a whole new generation of half-assed children’s entertainment, I’d like to urge that producer to air the carefully-observed sitcom parody and push “Does Generalissimo Eric Trump Know It’s Christmas” or whatever to YouTube or its 2043 equivalent.