“This is fun,” Ivanka Trump, played to robotic and windblown effect by Margot Robbie, announced during a 2016 episode of Saturday Night Live. She was appearing on the show’s version of Political Family Feud. She was talking to no one in particular. “I love fun. Every day I schedule 20 minutes of fun.”
It was funny, as parodies go, but it wasn’t quiiiite satire. And it reflected a longstanding challenge the women of Donald Trump’s inner circle seem to have presented for SNL. The show’s sketches have offered up Melania Trump, a princess trapped in a golden prison; Kellyanne Conway, contractually (and possibly emotionally) obligated to dedicate her intelligence to the spinning of her boss’s rhetoric; Tiffany Trump, Tiffany Trumped; and, finally, Ivanka Trump, airbrushed and windswept and robotically content with the world and its happenings. So. Much. Fun. Overall, as the show has struggled to portray a presidential administration determined to change the norms of American government, it has also struggled to interpret the women who are helping to bring those changes about: It has portrayed these politically powerful people, for the most part, as scorned and trapped and helpless and, in Ivanka’s case, simply robotic. As Vox’s Caroline Framke asked, late last year, “Why does SNL keep insisting that the women in Trump’s inner circle don’t want to be there?”
In that sense, Saturday night’s SNL represented a bit of progress. The episode took advantage of the fact that it was hosted by Scarlett Johannson to cast its guest star as yet another iteration of Ivanka. In this case, the Johannsonized Ivanka was starring in her own perfume ad—such an ad being a classic target of SNL satire. The perfume in question? A fragrance named Complicit.