First came the “Claire from HR” skit, in which a harried human resources worker played by Cecily Strong goes through a preposterously easy quiz on what constitutes workplace harassment. (Sample question: “When talking to a co-worker in the office, where should you keep your penis?”) After a few chugs of liquid alcohol hand-cleanser, Claire deadpans, “I’m sure I’ll be back next week, and the week after, and forever and ever, because all of this isn’t just a scandal, it didn’t start just last week, it’s just actual reality for half of the population.”
In the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Saturday Night Live has been building a reputation for smart, sharp skits on the pervasiveness of sexual harassment.
Last night’s show built on that theme with the musical skit “Welcome to Hell,” in which the women of SNL-along with guest host Saoirse Ronan-address men shocked by the revelation that many powerful industry players turn out to be serial predators. “Here’s a little secret that every girl knows,” Ronan sings. Strong chimes in: “Oh, this been the damn world.”
Taking its musical cues from the world of teen pop, the sketch shows women occupying a stereotypically girly, fetishized world of pink, glitter, lipstick, and lollipops-while singing about the physical threats and harassment they face on a daily basis. “This ain’t a girl group, we just travel in a pack for safety,” declares Aidy Bryant. “This is how I walk home at night,” adds Kate McKinnon, showcasing her knuckles pronged by sharp house keys.
The sketch also acknowledges that the public conversation so far has barely touched on disproportionate harassment and abuse faced by women of color. Around two minutes in, Leslie Jones interrupts: “I think what you guys are doing is really cool, I get it. Um, but you do know that it’s like a million times worse for a woman of color, right?” “Oh God, yes,” is the immediate reply.