SNL Missed The Mark On Ivanka Trump

by Alex Gladu

After a much-dreaded hiatus, Saturday Night Live's premiere episode took the presidential election by storm on Saturday. The long-awaited episode featured Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump, Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton and as Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, and host Margot Robbie as Ivanka Trump. However, it was the moment with Robbie playing Trump's daughter where one SNL premiere sketch missed the mark.

During the premiere, SNL presented a Family Feud sketch, pitting Team Clinton against Team Trump. Team Clinton featured Larry David as Bernie Sanders, Cecily Strong as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Melissa Villaseñor as Sarah Silverman, and Darrell Hammond as former President Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, Team Trump featured McKinnon as Conway, Robbie as Ivanka, Bobby Moynihan as Chris Christie, and Beck Bennett as Vladimir Putin. The sketch was undeniably funny, with Sanders passing to Team Trump against his team's wishes and Christie making an awkward reference to bridges.

Something went wrong when the attention turned to Ivanka, though. Robbie had clearly mastered Ivanka's meticulous, pointed manner of speaking, but the writers may have mistaken Trump's intelligence for something else entirely. When asked a question by fake host Kenan Thompson's Steve Harvey, Trump asked for help from her brothers.

In response to Harvey's question, Trump said, "What an interesting and wonderful question, Steve. May I ask my brothers for help?" At that point, a fake Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump appeared next to their sister. Donald Jr. introduced himself as "the brains," while Ivanka referred to herself as "the beauty."

Don't get me wrong, SNL's premiere episode was as funny as ever. Time after time, the cast has a way of poking fun at the most relevant public figures — and the election content has not gotten old. But the premiere's portrayal of Ivanka seemed unfair — and even contradictory.

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Regardless of her father's personality or policies, Ivanka is an educated, hardworking, and poised female executive. She serves as executive vice president of her family's company and founder of her own eponymous brand. She also has an initiative called Women Who Work, which celebrates working women in all their forms, from stay-at-home moms to entrepreneurs and executives.

SNL's characterization of Ivanka doesn't reflect these qualities. Rather, they paint the picture of a woman who needs her brothers' approval and doesn't think on her own. While I can appreciate SNL's humor in most other cases, this one seems contrary to the show's values. Throughout its history, SNL has effectively launched the careers of so many powerful female entertainers, from Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to the current cast's Kate McKinnon.


Although the SNL premiere episode was a certified hit, the show could have changed its tune about the older Trump daughter. The Donald's outrageous personality and unconventional campaign are the perfect material for SNL's satire, but a strong woman creating a brand for herself and bringing women's issues to her father's campaign should not become a target — even if her last name is Trump.

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Image: NBC Universal/Saturday Night Live