Fans of “The Walking Dead” were thrilled last night when the show was parodied on “SNL.”
In the sketch, Rick Grimes (played by Taran Killam) is traveling with his crew, including Nasim Pedrad as trigger-happy 12-year-old Carl who “shot my mom when she was turning into a zombie and it didn’t screw up my head at all.”
The group encounters Lyle, played by host Kevin Hart, who asks to join them, then starts turning into a zombie as they confer. Each time they speak of his impending zombiehood, Lyle accuses them of racism in return. “You’re one of them!” Rick says. “One of them?!” Lyle returns in outrage. There are rationalizations for his transformation: His zombie walk is actually just a pimp walk, and the reason he’s eating his own leg: “diabetes.” The zombie almost gets away with it, too, thanks to his appeals to the humans’ white guilt.
Race was touched upon several other times in the episode. In Weekend Update, Kevin Hart joined Seth Meyers in a “Really!?!” segment about Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s negative remarks about the Voting Rights Act. The segment said the South was “the Michael Jordan of racism” and characterized Clarence Thomas as the Supreme Court’s “one black friend”: “Nothing is more racist than having one black friend. Zero black friends is somehow less racist than having one black friend.”
Additionally, Jay Pharoah portrayed Dennis Rodman (although he didn’t do much of an impression beyond sunglasses and facial piercings) in light of his visit to North Korea to meet with Kim Jong -un, played by Bobby Moynihan. Per typical portrayals of Kim Jong-un and Kim Jong-il, the Korean dictator is portrayed as delusional (“I’m the tallest person in North Korea!”) but as opposed to his unsmiling father, Bobby’s Moynihan played the character as a delighted little elf, comparing himself to Winnie the Pooh and Rodman as Tigger (“Oh no, I said ‘Tigger.’ It’s OK!” Kim reassured an offended Rodman.) Some Twitter users seemed unconvinced by the humor in the sketch’s allusion to a word that rhymes with “Tigger,” not to mention Moynihan’s portrayal of a Korean person.
“SNL” didn’t shy away from sketches and themes that have attracted criticism before. The episode included a rerun of the show's Starbucks “Verismo” commercial parody, which many accused of relying on offensive stereotypes. And with a somewhat veiled reference to sex scandals in the Catholic Church, in a sketch where a character playing 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis is chosen as the new Pope, “SNL” writers showed that they’re unafraid of tweaking the Church, even after some critics said the “DJesus Unchained” piece in the Jamie Foxx episode was blasphemous. But not every taboo stone was left unturned: At least in last night’s Wallis sketch, a certain bad word wasn’t referenced.
Next week, “SNL” favorite Justin Timberlake returns as host and musical guest.