Saturday Night Live continued to lampoon Donald Trump in most of its Weekend Update jokes, but the best one of the night had nothing to do with modern American politics. Instead, it was Heidi Gardner’s sendup of drug-addled one-note characters from the 80s that proved to be a highlight of the SNL mainstay.
The setup is that “famous 80s cocaine wife Carla” is appearing to talk about the state of bars and nightlife in New York due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Insert Gardner, in a slinky golden dress and fur, twirling her hair and embodying every tragic female stereotype from 80s drug movies.
“So, uh, where’s the afterparty?” Carla asks, playing off a clearly bewildered Michael Che as the character builds a fictional relationship with Che that quickly goes way too far. “Where we going tonight, Michael?”
Gardner presses both Che and Colin Jost about dancing with her, does a few bumps of… something from her makeup case, and just generally plays a clearly out-of-control figure driven to do something drastic. The parody is pretty obviously absurd, and it causes Che to break with laughter several times as she hints something very bad could happen if you get mixed up with a character like her.
“I have a ton of jobs, Michael. Dice-blower, home-wrecker. Plantiff,” Carla says. “Plus my husband Bobby has a lot of men working for him.”
Gardner says Bobby works in “scaffolding garbage construction” and wouldn’t be very happy if she knew he was talking to Che.
“Let’s call him,” Gardner says, inexplicably pulling out a Victorian telephone and causing a scene. She said she was at “church” and wasn’t talking to Che, then asked to put him on the phone. Che declines, then suggests that Carla should probably go.
“Don’t get rid of me, Michael,” Gardner pleads. “I mean, sure I’m a little rough around the edges, but I’m still the same girl you met at the Update desk three minutes ago. Let me give you a son, Michael.”
It spirals out of control from there, pulling out a gun to fumble with in a fake fight with Che while he sat motionless next to her. It was very weird and an accurate teardown of weak, sexist characters you often see in those period pieces. Gardner breaking character and declaring “directed by David O. Russell” at the end was a very pointed and funny finish to a rare sketch concept where she was allowed to lean into the weirdness of parodying a mostly forgotten film trope. But it stole the show on a night where SNL’s political and quarantine-focused humor was upstaged by an extremely out of left field blast from the past.