While SNL took a little criticism for their comments on Louis C.K. during last week’s show, this week’s Thanksgiving-themed episode shifted its weights a bit while covering Senator Al Franken, a former SNL alumnus and the latest to be caught in a high profile sexual misconduct scandal. While Franken has found plenty of defenders online and in Hollywood, like Bill Maher and Chelsea Handler, Colin Jost and Michael Che were not kind to the formal cast member with their opening to Weekend Update.
Much like the rest of this season, their opening segment had teeth that we haven’t seen in past seasons. Jost had only slightly glanced over the Louis C.K. allegation last week, but stopped to cover a full range of opinions related to the allegations against Franken:
Senator Al Franken is being accused of sexual misconduct on a 2006 U.S.O. tour by Leeann Tweeden, who posted this photo of Franken apparently groping her breasts while she was asleep. Now, I know this photo looks bad, but remember, it also is bad. And sure, this was taken before Franken ran for public office, but it was also taken after he was a sophomore in high school. It’s pretty hard to be like, ‘Oh, come on, he didn’t know any better. He was only 55.’ Tweeden is also claiming that Franken forced her to kiss him as part of a rehearsal for a comedy sketch they were performing for the troops. Come on, man — didn’t the troops in Afghanistan have it hard enough without having to sit through sketch comedy? I mean, people can barely stay up to watch sketches after “Weekend Update.”
The segment then swings over to Che who continues the discussion of Franken and how it compares to Roy Moore and Donald Trump, pointing how it has boiled down to politics for some and it really shouldn’t:
Franken is a liberal and Trump and Moore are conservatives. And in this country, everybody has to pick a side. Except for me — I think they’re all bitches. I don’t even know what side I would be on if I had to pick…
Also, why are Republicans trying so hard to protect Roy Moore from this case? It’s not like he wrote the remix to “Ignition.”
While the show itself wasn’t showing much sympathy to Franken, some of his former cast mates and fellow SNL alums did come to his defense after the allegations went public. While most didn’t excuse Franken for his actions and the photograph showing him appearing to grope Tweeden, some did say that Franken didn’t exhibit predatory tendencies around them according to Deadline:
[Jane Curtin], one of the original Not Ready For Prime-Time Players, said the longtime SNL writer and featured player was a powerful ally of the show’s female writers and performers.
“If he did that,” Curtin said of Leeann Tweeden’s allegations, “that’s really stupid, but I have never seen him in a situation where he has been sexually aggressive with anybody.”
Also today, Curtin’s SNL castmate Laraine Newman retweeted two posts supporting Franken. Newman first retweeted a Washington Post column by Feminasty podcaster Kate Harding that begins, “I’m a feminist. I study rape culture. And I don’t want Al Franken to resign.”
It does make you wonder how much the generational differences mentioned on Real Time With Bill Maher are playing in the response to Franken, with the younger members of the SNL family showing little sympathy for the senator and his position in Congress.