Whats With SNL and Michael Ches LGBT Blind Spot?

This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beasts Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.

This week:

SNLs Baffling Transphobic Caitlyn Jenner Joke

On Saturday night, Kristen Stewart will host Saturday Night Live, the first time the show has had an openly queer host since…the last time Kristen Stewart hosted, in February 2017. (Before that youd have to go back to Miley Cyrus in 2015. The last openly gay man to host was Jim Parsons in 2014.)

This matters because visibility matters. More, lack of visibility matters, so these are important things to keep track of. (That NBC hasnt gotten RuPaul to host yet is beyond me.)

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But it particularly matters this week, coming after yet another transphobic joke from Michael Che at the Weekend Update deskan inexcusable, lame crack that he himself seemed to know would bait groans and outrage, and still the latest example of inelegant, bordering on phobic jokes about the LGBT+ community from the series. And, specifically, from Che.

On last weeks episode of SNL, Che intentionally misgendered Caitlyn Jenner as part of a joke poking fun at Kanye Wests new gospel album and born-again Christianity. The crux of it was that Che was posturing that West moved to Calabasas, the home of the Kardashians, and went crazy. To corroborate his theory, he brought up the example of another fella who had the same trajectory, and then showed a photo of Jenner pre-transition and also dead-named her, which means calling her by her birth name, which she no longer uses.

The dead silence the jab was met with was peppered with several audible groans, as Che gave a cheeky giggle, as if admitting that it was the exact reaction he was going for.

This isnt a cancel-culture call for Ches head. But it is an exasperated plea of enough, especially for Che, who has been on the receiving end of criticismand, with it, attempts at educationand how his transphobic comments about Jenner have crossed the line from provocative to irresponsible. In response, he publicly attacked Daily Beast journalist Samantha Allen, a trans woman, who called him out on it. Now, hes continuing to make the same targeted jokes.

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Hes not the only one, of course. Weekend Update co-host Colin Jost caught fire for a 2016 joke about Tinder blaming trans and gender non-binary people for the election results: The dating app Tinder announced a new feature this week which gives users 37 different gender identity options. Its called Why Democrats lost the election. Its as if no strides at all were made since Its Pat.

And then there was last seasons tired, seemingly endless regurgitation of the same bad joke: that Trump and Putin were gay for each other.

Heres the thing that doesnt make sense. SNL is, when it comes to LGBT representation and celebration, actually progressive, as far as cultural institutions go. Yet, despite being educated, time and again, as to why these transphobic and homophobic bitsnone of which have elicited many laughsare harmful and antiquated, they feign ignorance and fire them off still, time and again.

There have been a slew of legitimately excellent queer-themed or specifically queer-appealing sketches in recent yearsbe it the Dyke and Fats digital short, the RuPauls Drag Race sketch, or even this seasons lampooning of the LGBT Equality Town Hall, with a guest appearance from Poses Billy Porterthat should be considered massive steps forward to counterbalance the shows history of gay-panic humor. (Two guys kiss! Hilarious!!!)

Staffing-wise, Chris Kelly, who co-created the brilliant Comedy Central series The Other Two, was the first openly gay head writer in 2016. Julio Torres continues to be a star in the writers room, as does Sam Jay.

But the show is cursed in its mixed messaging. More, its a curse it seems to have put on itself. The groundbreaking casting of Bowen Yang this season, the shows first Asian-American and third out gay male cast member, for example, was soured in the simultaneous controversy over fellow new-hire Shane Gilliss history of racist jokes. (Gillis resigned before the season began.)

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The whole thing is so frustrating, becauseand heres the bit that gets relentlessly lost any time someone uses the word phobia in relation to comedyis that its not that hard. Its not that hard to be edgy and humorous and critical and mock the LGBT+ community (and theres a lot to mock and criticize!) and do it smartly.

But all this, from the Weekend Update cracks to the drought of queer hosts, its just lazy.

Jane Fonda Is the Queen. All Other Queens Abdicate Immediately.

Every Friday these last few weeks, Jane Fonda has been arrested on Capitol Hill while protesting over Climate Change. Two weeks ago, her Grace and Frankie co-star Sam Waterston joined her in handcuffs. Last Friday, Ted Danson beamed as he was carted away by officers.

In what may be the most badass act of celebrity activism and the greatest awards-acceptance moment of all time, Fonda, in a video that went viral, shouted her thank you speech for winning the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film while in handcuffs and being led away by officers. (Watch it here.)

Yes, this happened last week and by the time this publishes Fonda may have been arrested again and this would all be a little old. Except that THIS WILL NEVER BE OLD!!!

Halloween Sucks, But Here Are Good Costumes

I do not have the enlightened sense of self to know why exactly it is that I abhor Halloween, but let it be known that I do, and very much so. I cant stand the costumes, the decorations, the copious amounts of candy, or, dear god, the enthusiasm there seems to be for it. (Im not a monster. The photos of your kids and dogs in their adorable costumes are fabulous and do melt my heart.)

One utterly-bizarre thing about celebrity culture has been the undue pomp and circumstance behind their over-the-top, professionally-styled costumes, which is as irritating to me as everything else about the holiday. But given the fact that my social feeds have been flooded with photos of the rich and famous all dressed up, I am in the position to, curmudgeonly, crown a favorite. So congrats to Ciara and Russell Wilson as Beyonc and Jay-Z.

In any case, while there was not a snowballs chance in hell that I would dress up this year, if I did I would have put on a T-shirt with a Jojo album cover on it and sported some bunny ears on my head. Jojo Rabbit. Thank you, I know. Im brilliant.

Kelly Clarkson Put a Spell on You

It requires all the restraint I can muster to not only resist including one, if not all, of Kelly Clarksons Kelly-oke covers from her talk show each week in this newsletter, but also in every conversation I have with every person, stranger or friend, with whom I cross paths.

But, Halloween Grinch I may be, I would be remiss to not flag for the world Clarksons brilliant homage to Hocus Pocus on this weeks Halloween episode of The Kelly Clarkson Show. Watch it here. Youre welcome.

What to watch this week:

Marriage Story: Watch the best-acted film of the year next week in theaters, or wait a month when it is on Netflix.

The Morning Show: Terrible pilot, alright concept, fantastic Jennifer Aniston performance.

His Dark Materials: A generic telling of the fantastical world, but fans will still be swept away.

The End of the F***ing World: Last years most underrated series is back for more stealth greatness.

What to skip this week:

See: Or, dont.

Harriet: A cruel test of how much mediocrity well forgive in support of the divine Cynthia Erivo.

Terminator: Dark Fate: Ill be back…home on my couch skipping this one!!!

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