On the most recent episode of Saturday Night Live, Santa got a few questions that he wasn’t expecting, like, “What did Al Franken do?” and “Is President Trump on the naughty list?” The result was a hilarious cold open in which Santa dodged questions about our current political climate from a string of precocious youngsters.
As it stands, several political figures in the United States have been accused of sexual misconduct, including President Trump himself. During SNL’s cold open, Keenan Thompson and Kate McKinnon — who played Santa and an elf, respectively — repeatedly fielded questions from kids about these people. In response to one boy’s question about what embattled Sen. Al Franken did, Thompson hurriedly replied, “I guess you could say that Al Franken is on Santa’s naughty list this year.”
That was followed up with questions about other politicians who have endured similar accusations of sexual harassment without any clear repercussions. There was a question about Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who was recently endorsed by the GOP despite multiple reports that he molested young women. Then came Trump. As McKinnon reminds Santa during the sketch, the president is more than qualified to be on the naughty list — "Nineteen accusers. Google it," she says.
As the sketch points out, kids have a way of getting to the essential truth of matters like these. After Thompson tells one girl that “we can all learn a lesson” from what’s going on in the news, she responds point-blank: “We sure can. I learned that if you admit you did something wrong, you get in trouble, but if you deny it, then you get to keep your job!”
SNL couldn't resist taking a job at one of NBC's own, making reference to Matt Lauer's recent ousting from the network. Upon being asked by Thompson whether he wants a toy for Christmas, one boy says, "Like the one Matt Lauer gave to his co-worker?" (On the day he was fired from the Today show, Variety reported that Lauer gave his colleague a sex toy, along with a note about how he wanted to use it on her. Lauer has denied the allegations against him.)
The kids don't stop at our country's recent reckoning with sexual harassment, though. One kid asks Thompson, "I love football. But why do the players kneel during the National Anthem? Do they hate the troops?" in reference to a controversy still roiling over whether or not NFL players have the right to protest while representing their team.
Another girl asks Thompson whether adding a trillion dollars to the national debt in order to get tax cuts is naughty. McKinnon delivers another cold, hard truth about the recent passage of the tax bill, saying, "If [this girl] thinks she's getting Medicare, ooh she is out of her little mind."
By the end of the sketch, the kids have successfully pointed out just how absurd 2017 has been. When speaking to Jenny, a young girl, McKinnon says, "We seem to have lost all perspective on what's naughty or nice," but offers some glimmer of hope, saying, "I promise you Jenny, it will be OK. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not for another three years, 42 days, and 24 minutes, Jenny, but most people in America are good people."
McKinnon does have a way of re-assuring audiences that we'll be okay, even in the worst of political times (remember her performance of Hallelujah after the election?), but as SNL's cold open pointed out, sometimes it helps to go back to the basics, and talk to kids, instead.