In recent weeks, Saturday Night Live has been too preoccupied with the chaos surrounding the Mueller report and the controversy over Joe Biden’s touching to meaningfully tackle a story that’s ripe for satirizing: the college-admissions bribery scandal. The show’s two previous episodes mildly commented on an affair that has gripped public attention since mid-March, including Michael Che’s quip about the behavior of wealthy people during “Weekend Update,” and a sketch cut for time lambasting admissions panels for chasing potential students’ fame. But beyond those instances, the scandal has been largely been neglected.
Saturday’s cold open sought to remedy that failure. Unfortunately, the sketch, which was set in a jail cell, quickly lost sight of its punch line and purpose by broadening its initial focus on the actress Lori Loughlin (played by Kate McKinnon) to include other newly indicted figures: the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Michael Keaton) and the lawyer Michael Avenatti (Pete Davidson).
McKinnon played Loughlin as a hardened criminal whose alleged actions shocked her three cell mates, who were in custody for armed robbery, assault, and murder. “I paid $500 grand to a woman’s crew coach to say my daughter was good at rowing,” she said menacingly. When the prisoners, played by Chris Redd, Kenan Thompson, and Kyle Mooney, balked at the number (“Hold up! You paid $500 grand for USC?” Thompson asked in disbelief), she coolly replied that the amount was only what she paid to get her daughter in. She dropped an additional $300,000 for tuition. “And you know what her job is now?” she asked. “She’s an influencer on Instagram.”