It was a good way to address the problem, especially after the "black comediennes aren't ready" slipup.
They had to do it. There couldn’t have been a better opportunity for SNL to address the diversity issue than a guest appearance by Kerry Washington. SNL fans were eager to see how the show would tackle its obvious lack of black comediennes with a prominent diversity advocate (not to mention an exceptional actress) like Washington on board. They were not disappointed.
Washington had to play both the First Lady, Oprah and a whole host of other celebrities.
So you know how people have been complaining that the lack of a black comedienne severely limits the cast’s topical sketches? The two main examples were Oprah and Michelle Obama – with noone to impersonate them, SNL has missed some golden opportunities over the past six years (the last time Michelle Obama was featured in a skit, she was played by Maya Rudolph in 2007). Not last night though, because Washington was on a mission to perform all the sketches! All the sketches that SNL hasn’t done due to casting limitations. The writers didn’t waste any time and the Scandal actress came out as the first lady at the very beginning of the episode causing President Obama (Jay Pharoah) to remark, "I feel like it's been years since I've seen you!" See what they did there?
At least the writers are self-aware.
At the end of the gag, an Obama aide (Taran Killam) announced that Oprah was just outside, motioning to Washington with the rather pleading: “Kenan won’t…?” After the actress, pardon, “the first lady” had exited, a voice over announced: "The producers at Saturday Night Live would like to apologize to Kerry Washington for the number of black women she will be asked to play. We make these requests because Ms. Washington is an actress of considerable range and talent – and also because SNL does not currently have a black woman on the cast. Mostly the latter. We agree this is not an ideal situation and look forward to rectifying it in the near future, unless, of course, we fall in love with another white guy first."
It doesn’t do anything to solve the problem, but we have to admit that the writing team does have a knack for self-deprecating humor.
"Unless we fall in love with another white guy first." Well put, SNL.