Sunday morning, I sent the following text to Kathleen:
“Modern Challenge: How to send my mom, who doesn’t have Twitter, a link to the Kate McKinnon SNL opening that isn’t already dead?”
(These are the perils of living in a geoblocked nation.)
My reaction to the opening of SNL was predictable, stereotypical, worthy of being mocked on Facebook by that guy who wants everyone to ‘just calm down’ because nothing is wrong. After just being generally grumpy and horrified and morose all week, and permanently teaching iMessage that I spell words like F*CKING in all caps, I bawled after the first stanza. Pointless, loud sobbing like someone pressed a button.
I loved it, obviously. She was part earnest and part Hillary, part worried about when she missed a chord (nobody noticed) and part kind of glad that her emotion came through in her voice. She was incredible, but what else is new? We’ve grown immune to Kate McKinnon being the best, and when she busted out her Ruth Bader Ginsburg later in the episode, it was just exactly what was required, and it made me so happy I stayed up….and later McKinnon and Dave Chappelle had that awesomely disgusting bar scene. Was anyone even in the rest of the show?
My mom, on the other hand, probably hasn’t watched SNL since…I’m going to say since Tina Fey was guesting as Sarah Palin, and (and this is key) the clips were being replayed on prime time news. But she was a Leonard Cohen fan and a Hillary fan and as befuddled by the last week as any of us, and I knew she’d appreciate it when Kathleen sent me a Suitable-For-Parents Facebook link, and off it went to my mom.
An hour later, she was texting me, “She is so talented! What has she done before?” She wanted to know everything about Kate McKinnon and her career – and I started thinking about the weird things that come out of the horrible Twilight Zone that is last week – I wonder if Kate McKinnon might be one of the great performers of our time? She’s 32, and two of her most highly-regarded roles are 69-year-old Clinton and 83-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She’s inspiring a generation of little girls in Ghostbusters, and my 66-year-old mom is on board.
It’s cold comfort, but maybe we’ll look back at this and think of 2016 as the moment that Kate McKinnon became like a next-generation Meryl Streep – the kind of person we all want to see across the board, who can somehow make us laugh and cry all at the same time—who knows it’s exactly what we need.