Although its premise is to parody popular culture and politics, the show doesn't often take the extra step to include communities of color. At lets be honest, a good portion of our popular culture comes from communities of color. Since the shows conception in the mid-70's, only a handful of the cast have been Black and of that, only a few have been repertory players. For a while, in the mid-2000's skits parodying Black pop-culture almost didn't exist as they didn't have Black cast members to portray the roles.
Notably, the show received some criticism on their lack of diversity in their attempts to parody "The View." Kenan Thompson was left to portray Whoopi Goldberg, while there was no one to portray Sherri Shepard. And while Thompson did a great job in the role, the whole thing seemed a bit off. Soon after than the show brought on comedians Leslie Jones Jay Pharoah, Michael Che and Sasheer Zamata and from there some of their best skits were created.
1. 28 Reasons
Perfect for Black History Month! In 2014 Saturday Night Live created a comedy skit around students performing an original song about Black History Month that hilariously proposes 28 reasons to "hug a Black guy." If there are two things that entertain Black people, it's comedy and a good beat. In the previous season, the show received an onslaught of criticism for its seeming refusal to hire Black cast members and more specifically female, Black cast members. When Sasheer Zamata joined the cast in 2014, she was first Black woman featured since Maya Rudolph who exited the show in 2007 and in the shows history, there have only been about a dozen Black cast members. Joining Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah (who also criticized the show), 28 Reasons was one of Zamata's first sketches.
We wanted many reasons, did a lot of research, but slavery kept coming up.
Melania Trump is no stranger to plagiarism. We all remember when Melania's 2016 Republican National Convention speech sounded a lot like Michelle Obama's 2008 Democratic National Convention speech. And by "a lot," I mean, entire portions were almost word for word. In 2016 SNL re-imagined Beyonce's famous "Sorry," from her Lemonade album, as plagiarized by Trump. And the result? It was pretty damn good.
You'd just be that guy with the weird hair.
3. Come Back, Barack
Who doesn't miss 90's male R&B groups? After the election of the current Cheeto-in-Chief, SNL paid tribute to the only president Black people acknowledge, Barack Obama. Chance The Rapper joined comedians Kenan Thompson and Chris Redd for the Boys II Men styled, "Come Back, Barack," and I honestly don't know why this didn't chart on Billboard.
And I know there's other Democrats. More than just a few. But when I think of change, the only change I want is you.
4. The Day Beyonce Turned Black
I think we all remember the backlash our Queen B faced after the release of "Formation" and her performance at Superbowl 50. Unbeknownst to us, Beyonce is the actual cause of racism (along with Barack Obama and Oprah, of course), at least according to the Right Wing. The GOP and Tennessee rednecks were shocked to see Ms. Carter strut herself ahead of her dancers donned in black leather and berets. SNL imagined people's initial reactions to Beyonce's album and performance, and I'm convinced it's pretty accurate.
It was the day they lost their damn white minds.
5. The Beygency
In 2018 the biggest threat isn't a nuclear war, it's actually the Beyhive. Think I'm exaggerating? Ask Keri Hilson's career. You can dislike Beyonce if you want to, but for your sake, I suggest you keep it to yourself. In the skit from 2014, we find out what really happens to people who bad-mouth Beyonce.
He turned against his country...and it's queen.
6. 12 Years [A Slave] Auditions
We all remember the groundbreaking film from Steve McQueen. It won three Academy Awards including Best Picture and its breakout star, Lupita Nyong'o also took home her first Academy Award for her role as Patsey. Based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free man who was kidnapped from the North and sold into slavery, the film was understandably hard for a lot of Black people to watch. In 2014 SNL imagined what the casting process for the film must have looked like, and well, here you go.
Are there any North parts?
7. Inner White Girl
When do we see the inner white girl appear the most? Well, have you ever heard a Black mom on the phone with someone other than a close friend? They go from, "Heey, gurl!" to "Good afternoon, how are we doing on this fine day?" real quick!
I am not white like you. I WILL go to jail.
Some of this era's best skits wouldn't have been possible without Leslie Jones, Jay Pharoah, Kenan Thompson, Sasheer Zamata or Che. Unfortunately, in this current season, the only Black cast members are Thompson, Jones and Che.