This is from last Saturday's show, with Tom Hanks, and — looking for commentary on it — I am reminded that the "Black Jeopardy" idea has been used before, but, in earlier variations, the third contestant — the one who doesn't fit the stereotype of a lower class black person — was unable to understand the questions in the stereotypically lower-class-black-person way that was easy for the other 2 contestants. There was Drake, the Canadian black person, and Louis C.K. as a white African-American studies professor. This past week, the contestant who seemed not to belong (because he was white), was, in fact, able to get all the answers.
Tom Hanks's lower-class white man wore a "Make America Great Again" hat, and this led one commentator, Daniel Barna at Complex to say:
There may not be as big a difference between Trump supporters and the black community after all. That was the clever premise behind Saturday Night Live's "Black Jeopardy" sketch, which saw last night's host Tom Hanks don a red “Make America Great Again” cap as Doug, a pretty docile Trumpeteer who gives all other Trumpeteers a good name.Docile. Well, I guess the point is that SNL viewers were invited to perceive the disaffected white people who turn to Trump as sympathetic because they remind us of black people — even though the black people he's like — the other "Black Jeopardy" contestants — have clownishly rude and ignorant ideas. I wouldn't call them docile. They are angry, suspicious, and proud of themselves — in a manner similar to the stereotypical Trumpster.
Here's Daniel Politi at Slate:
[T]his episode of “Black Jeopardy” looked to be an easy setup to mercilessly mock Trump supporters at every turn. Instead, it revealed that conspiracy theorist Doug had a lot more in common with the other contestants—Leslie Jones as Shanice and Sasheer Zamata as Keeley—than most people would have likely expected....Oh! I thought I was going to get some serious analysis here. Actually, this goes nowhere. I had the feeling that people were talking about this sketch, but I'm not finding any depth to the analysis.
To me, the sketch is too racist to just point at and call funny. It relies on a stereotype of black people.
It's also too serious not to want to talk seriously about. The serious point is something I've heard — mostly from left-wing people — for decades: That what really matters is not race but class. This orientation is important going forward out of the 2016 election, because the Trumpsters have peeled away from the establishment Republican Party. Where will they go after Trump loses the election? (I know, I'm assuming, but come on.) Shouldn't the people who coalesced around Bernie Sanders be looking to embrace the disaffected, working-class white people who turned to Trump? I could see the 2 parties flipping and re-composing themselves, with half of each party connecting with half of the other. Maybe nobody wants to talk about this until after the election is over. But no: I do. I want to talk about it.
ADDED: Meade wanted me to address the "punchline" of the sketch. The "final Jeopardy" category is announced: "Lives that matter." The black host and contestants turn and stare at Hanks. This happens after Hanks had won their enthusiastic approval and inclusiveness. The host then laughs and says: "Well, it was good while it lasted." The audience laughs a lot. Hanks's Doug mutters that he has a lot to say about that, and the host (Keenan Thompson) brushes him off.
This could be taken to mean that the idea that had been developed — that working-class people should see what they have in common and get together — was all just a fantasy that everyone entertained for a while and now we're getting back to the reality of hostility and deep-seated suspicion.
But I saw the ending as similar to the ending of the great old "Theodoric of York" SNL sketch from 1978. In that sketch, Steve Martin plays a "medieval barber" who, in the end, gets the idea of using the scientific method to understand disease and discover treatments. Then there's a pause and the sketch ends with him saying: "Nah!"
That doesn't mean that the "nah" was the right answer. It's patently wrong, but Theodoric made progress toward the right answer before he threw it away. Thus, the last line isn't necessarily the insight the writers want you to take with you. That line could be the funny-sad experience of the characters losing an insight that you have received and should not forget. Indeed, the characters' loss of the insight could reinforce its value as you feel the poignancy of their losing it.