NBC’s Saturday Night Live lampoons the ongoing Jussie Smollett saga. On February 20, the Empire actor was charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report about a January 29 attack in Chicago, however all charges were dropped on March 26. The Saturday Night Live parody addresses how Fox may handle the situation moving forward.
Since 2015, Smollett has appeared as Jamal Lyon on Fox’s musical drama, Empire. One week before the alleged 2019 Chicago attack, Fox reportedly received a letter that included a homophobic death threat against Smollett. On January 29, Smollett told Chicago police that he was attacked by two men who made “racial and homophobic slurs” before pouring an “unknown chemical substance" on him and wrapping a noose around his neck. Chicago investigators then identified the persons of interest, Ola and Abel Osundairo, who were revealed to allegedly be part of a hoax orchestrated by Smollett. However, the narrative swiftly changed when Chicago prosecutors recently dropped all charges. Despite the latest turn of events, Smollett reportedly won’t return to Empire for season 6.
During its latest episode, Saturday Night Live aired a three-minute, racially-charged sketch entitled “Network Meeting.” Host Sandra Oh (Killing Eve) plays Smollett’s agent, cast member Kenan Thompson portrays Empire’s co-creator Lee Daniels, and cast member Chris Redd reprises his role as Smollett after portraying him earlier in the season. Early on, Redd’s Smollett arrives late for a network meeting with a bruised eye, and wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. Claiming to have been attacked “again,” he reveals a “bag of clues” which includes three “K” letter blocks that correlate with the Ku Klux Klan. As a whole, the Saturday Night Live clip portrays Smollett as naive and manipulative, while the Fox executives - portrayed by cast members Kate McKinnon, Mikey Day, and Ego Nwodim - appear concerned for Smollett’s mental health. The clips ends with Smollett being fired, and Oh’s character stating “I just hope he gets the help he needs.” Watch the full Saturday Night Live sketch below.
For several weeks, Smollett’s case has prompted celebrities to express both their support and concern. Last month, Empire star Terrence Howard defended Smollett on Instagram, which prompted criticism from the actor’s followers. Yesterday, Saturday Night Live alum Chris Rock roasted Smollett during an appearance at the NAACP Image Awards, stating “What a waste of light skin.”
At this point, Smollett’s acting career appears to be in jeopardy. Regardless of how one feels about his innocence, the saga represents an interesting case study about pop culture, social media, and reactionary behavior. Of course, the case itself remains a mystery, too, but Saturday Night Live seems convinced about the truth.
Source: Saturday Night Live