In its latest cold open, “Saturday Night Live” took on the recent string of high-profile sexual-misconduct scandals, featuring a parade of children — each seemingly more precocious and world-weary than the last — visiting a mall Santa, played by Kenan Thompson.
“Can you tell me: What did Al Franken do?” the first boy asks. Franken, the Democratic senator from Minnesota (and former SNL cast member) announced last week he would resign from Congress amid numerous allegations he inappropriately touched women.
“Okay, wow, uh, let’s see…” a flustered Thompson replies. “I guess you could say that Al Franken is on Santa’s naughty list this year.”
Without missing a beat, the boy moves on to his next query: “What about Roy Moore? Which list is he on?”
Moore, of course, is the Republican candidate in Alabama running for a U.S. Senate seat, who has spent the past several weeks battling accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls.
“It’s not really a list,” Kate McKinnon, playing an elf named Amy, deadpans. “It’s more of a registry.”
As Santa shoos the boy away, hoping for a reprieve from the tough questions, a young girl steps up.
“I wanted to follow up on Tyler’s question,” she asks. “Is President Trump on the naughty list?”
“Well, you know, Santa tries to stay out of political matters,” Thompson replies. “Our president may have said or done a few naughty things….”
McKinnon interjects: “Nineteen accusers. Google it.”
The audience laughs, and Thompson encourages the girl that lessons can be learned from what’s going on in the news.
“We sure can!” the girl replies cheerfully. “I learned that if you admit you did something wrong, you’re in trouble. But if you deny it, you get to keep your job!”
The barb was a nod to those who have pointed out the seeming inequity of consequences for those accused of sexual misconduct. (Case in point: “Sen. Al Franken announced his resignation this week in the wake of sexual-harassment allegations, and yet Uncle Bad Touch is up four points in Alabama,” Michael Che noted later in the show’s “Weekend Update” segment.)
But SNL included plenty of jabs at other prominent men who have recently fallen from their perches after misconduct was exposed, including another passing “Weekend Update” reference to the scandal that seemed to trigger this recent sexual-harassment reckoning. (“The fires are the worst thing spreading in L.A. since Harvey Weinstein’s bathrobe.”)
In the cold open, toward the end of the line of kids, Thompson-as-Santa asks one boy whether he’d like a toy for Christmas.
“Oh, you mean toy like the one Matt Lauer gave to his co-worker?” the boy asks, smiling.
The bit ends with a girl named Jenny who says she doesn’t want any gifts this year — just for “everything to be okay.”
McKinnon’s elf immediately tries to comfort the girl.
“Oh my goodness, okay, Jenny, Jenny, listen to me,” she says. “I know that things seem particularly insane right now — like truly, mind-bendingly insane. And we seem to have lost all perspective on what’s naughty or nice….”
“I know,” Jenny interjects. “I’ve seen Fox News.”
McKinnon nods and continues.
“But as bad as things might seem, I promise you, Jenny, it will be okay, okay? Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not for another three years, 42 days and 24 minutes,” she says, referencing the remainder of Trump’s term as president. “But most people in America are good people. And eventually, good people will fix our country.”
“Okay, good,” Jenny says. “But just in case, I’m putting all my money in bitcoin.”