After Michelle Wolf's speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner caused a whole ruckus, fans new and old were eagerly anticipating her Netflix talk show. In the May 27 premiere episode of The Break With Michelle Wolf, Wolf responded to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the backlash from the 2018 WHCD once again — this time, on her own turf.
While Wolf's WHCD jokes covered President Trump's hot mic conversation with Billy Bush about grabbing women "by the p*ssy"; Vice President Mike Pence's views on abortion; the 2016 Clinton campaign, and the proposal to arm teachers; the most inflammatory (pun absolutely intended) jokes in terms of backlash were about the Press Secretary.
"I actually really like Sarah," Wolf said during the event. "I think she’s very resourceful. She burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.”
Wolf was criticized for allegedly going after Sanders' appearance, and the Correspondents' Association released a statement denouncing her performance as not in the "spirit" of the event.
"I'm at a desk now," Wolf begins at the beginning of a new segment on The Break. "Uh oh, you see a woman at a desk, that can only mean one thing: feminism. Look, I know nobody wants to talk about feminism for more than... any amount of time. Which is why instead, we're gonna do a segment I'm calling, 'Sports Smash.'"
Of course, the title is an hilariously thin veil on a segment that's really asking the eternal question: "Do women have to support other women?" Always? No matter what they do? Complete with sports radio sound effects, Wolf uses newly sworn-in CIA Director Gina Haspel as an example.
"After she was nominated," Wolf says, "my best friend Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted, 'There is no one more qualified to be the first woman to lead the CIA than 30+ year CIA veteran Gina Haspel. Any Democrat who claims to support women’s empowerment and our national security but opposes her nomination is a total hypocrite.'"
"If anyone's an expert on hypocrites," Wolf says, with a picture of Sanders' reaction photo from the Correspondents Dinner on the screen, "it's Sarah Huckabee Sanders."
That's the problem with making the broad statement that all women should blindly support all other women if they really support female empowerment and/or feminism. Does Sarah Huckabee Sanders support Michelle Wolf's right to make jokes about her? Does she support the women Democrats who support empowerment yet oppose Haspel's nomination? Are women supposed to walk this Earth devoid of conflict with one another? The expectations and accusations could go on and on in a hypocrisy circle all day, causing mass headaches that will make sure no progress happens for women, like, ever.
"For the record," Wolf continues, "that was not a looks-based joke. That was about [Sanders'] ugly personality." The segment then goes on to list other women who Wolf does not support — from Bill Cosby's wife Camille to the female dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, just to prove that she can and still call herself a feminist at the end of the day,
This isn't the first time that Wolf has responded to the backlash, specifically asserting that her jokes were not an attack on Sanders' appearance.
She also recently discussed the comedy set on The View, joked about it with her former boss and now fellow late night host Seth Meyers, and even broke down why she thinks it was so controversial on NPR. Wolf is not here to be nice and sweet just because she's a woman, and Sanders is a woman. The Break proves that — and it's fine! It's funny and it's fine. If there were more women in late night — cough cough cough — this wouldn't be as shocking and alien of a concept as it seems to be.
The premiere episode of the Netflix series packs a lot of feminism into a half hour, actually. There's a sketch mocking Netflix's "strong female lead" category and how sometimes purportedly feminist characters feel like someone just did a find and replace on a stereotypical male lead in the script. Guest Amber Ruffin, who Wolf worked with on Late Night With Seth Meyers, comes on the show to discuss the pressure to have children and how she and Wolf shouldn't be regarded as evil witches just because they don't.
It's not surprising that The Break addresses the GOP elephant in the room right off the bat. And Wolf makes it clear that she won't be taking it easy on women just because they're women in this venue either.