'SNL' Casts Jon Rudnitsky & Hopefully, The Show Has Some More Diverse Players On The Way
The newest featured player for Saturday Night Live Season 41 is Jon Rudnitsky, another white dude. I'm not saying Rudnitsky is not qualified for the coveted spot, but something is amiss here. Why is SNL repeating their past mistakes and acting like diversity is an option, not a must? Because it is a must.
Rudnitsky is a 25-year old comedian and for all intents and purposes, he's qualified for the job. He does some great impressions and his True Detective parody on his YouTube channel definitely holds up. But coming into their 41st season, the decision to add another white male voice to the SNL cast makes me wanna dramatically shake Lorne Michaels and weep, "Why?!"
The sketch show has continually seemed to fumble through the criticism about its lack of diversity by taking one step forward and 10 steps back. It was encouraging last year when Michael Che made history by becoming the first African-American host of Weekend Update, but sadly, he replaced Cecily Strong — who, being a woman, brought diversity in her own right — and now the Update desk is once again anchored by two dudes. Last year, former cast member Horatio Sanz criticized SNL for becoming too conservative, and this addition of the same ol', same ol' might just prove him right.
SNL added the brilliant Sasheer Zamata in the middle of season 39, but that was after they got hella heat for being undeniably white. You would be remiss to forget that Zamata was the first black woman on the cast in seven years, since Maya Rudolph's departure in 2007, and she was only the fifth black woman of all time to be on the cast. Leslie Jones later made the jump from writers' room to the stage, which was encouraging. But later in the year, when the show hired five new writers, they only brought on one new writer of color.
I'm not even mad about this announcement of Rudnitsky's joining the cast, I'm more disappointed. Because as much as the show insists that it hears the critiques (which is why Lorne Michaels held that emergency casting, which eventually led to Zamata's addition), it seems to keep falling back into its old patterns.
Is SNL Season 41 going to just be more of the same? As of now, Rudnitsky is the only new featured player, so there's still a chance more new faces will be added ahead of the show's Oct. 3 premiere. I hope so, because this waiting game has passed the point of frustrating.
Image: Jon Rudnitsky/Instagram.