Saturday Night Live hasn’t even been back for a full week, and yet, it’s already courting controversy. During it’s Season 48 premiere, host Miles Teller starred in a sketch that spoofed the Charmin Bears from the long-running toilet paper commercials. Like a lot of young people, Teller’s character doesn’t want to go into the family business and struggled to break the news to his family that he would not be attending toilet paper college. Instead, he’d be pursuing a career in art, which in fairness, sometimes involves smearing poop on things. (Art shows are weird, folks.)
While the sketch seems par for the course for SNL, it inadvertently sparked a wave of controversy when the episode streamed on Peacock. According to Variety, an actual ad for Charmin ran next to the sketch, which had SNL fans questioning how much advertisers were influencing the editorial direction of the show:
NBC says the appearance of the ad next to the skit was “coincidental,” and not put in place at the request of Procter & Gamble, which has manufactured Charmin since acquiring the product in 1957. Procter, one of the nation’s largest TV advertisers, did not respond to a query seeking comment.
In fairness to NBC, the Charmin ad only appeared on streaming while broadcast viewers saw an ad for David O. Russell’s Amsterdam. Unfortunately, the controversy didn’t stop there.
As reported by The A.V. Club, YouTube creator Joel Haver made a very similar video last year called “Toilet Paper Bears,” which featured… an artistic son trying to leave the family business. Hoo boy. Haver addressed the similarities in a recent video where he generously chalked the whole thing up to “parallel thinking” and doesn’t think it was “malicious.”
“If I still was a smaller creator, which I was for a long time, I could see it rubbing me the wrong way and me being a little more likely to believe they did steal it,” Haver said. “I have to recognize I’m in a position to not be bothered by it.”