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SNL tries — and fails — to find humor in Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation

The cold open of a lackluster episode focused on Republican senators partying in the GOP locker room.

Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

At the end of one of the most politically divisive days in recent memory, with the Senate voting by a slim majority to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court, Saturday Night Live devoted its cold open to a “euphoric” GOP — with nearly all of the regular cast members portraying Republican senators as they celebrated the confirmation in the world’s most symbolic locker room.

The sketch opened with Kenan Thompson — as CNN anchor Don Lemon — describing the “somber” mood of the American populace and noting that the day had involved “several cry breaks here at CNN.” Meanwhile, Heidi Gardner and Melissa Villaseñor played CNN reporters conducting postgame-style interviews with the jubilant Republicans, including Beck Bennett as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kate McKinnon as South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Pete Davidson as Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, and Cecily Strong as Maine Sen. Susan Collins.

While the skit satirized the whole group — ”We made a lot of women real worried today, but I’m not getting pregnant so I don’t care,” said McKinnon’s Graham — Collins received extra attention.

Collins’s controversial swing vote in favor of Kavanaugh may well reverberate through the Supreme Court for decades, and SNL made it clear how it felt about the crucial role she played in the confirmation — not to mention the lengthy Senate floor speech she gave on Friday, in which she announced her decision.

“The last thing I wanted was to make this about me,” said Strong’s Collins. “That’s why I told everyone to tune in at 3 pm. To tell all my female supporters, psych!”

“Listen, I think it’s important to believe women until it’s time to stop,” she added. “Now, we’re going to party like it’s 2020, when Susan Rice takes my seat” — a reference to a viral crowdfunding campaign that has already raised $3 million to unseat Collins and install whoever ends up running against her.

While pointed, none of the jokes were especially sharp, and they set the tone for what ultimately turned out to be a lackluster episode of SNL. Other political sketches of the evening referenced the new “presidential alert” system and the tight Texas electoral race between Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Ted Cruz — with Cruz played by Beck Bennett in a skit painting him as cursed and incompetent.

SNL also took a moment to respond to Kanye West’s awkward pro-Trump speech in last week’s season opener. “What Kanye said after he went off the air last week was one of the worst, most awkward things I’ve ever seen here,” said Pete Davidson, speaking as himself during Weekend Update. “And I’ve seen Chevy Chase speak to an intern.”