Saturday Night Live took a shot at a controversial topic this week: female teachers who have sex with their underage male students.
In the sketch, a student named Gavin (played by Pete Davidson) approvingly discusses his liaison with a hot female teacher (Cecily Strong) under questioning by a prosecutor (host Taraji P. Henson). Gavin, it seems, is pretty enthusiastic about being the victim of child sexual abuse — as were his peers, who gave him such titles as "Fred Pimpstone," "Teacher's Petter," "Supercalifragilistic This Be Such a Dope Kid." At the end, the judge (Kenan Thompson) even gives him a fist bump as the accused molester gets off entirely:
Careful, you might cut yourself on that edge.
The sketch — which happened to be the first live skit following the monologue — has a few funny lines, but its overall bent is more than a little uncomfortable. It's unclear whether the core comedic conceit of the episode was intended to be taken at face value or whether SNL was attempting to parody the kind of person who thinks it's not child abuse if the abuser happens to be a voluptuous female. But if it was the latter, that joke did not get through. Instead, SNL managed to parrot South Park's Sgt. Yates — the cop who responds to similar allegations by quipping "nice!" — without any of the satirical bite.
Gothamist compared the sketch to a bad Adam Sandler movie, while Twitter users seemed to agree that the sketch wasn't just unfunny — it was mocking the victims of child rape:
Often accusations that SNL has gone too far aren't valid — for example, conservatives and members of the extended military community got furious over an Islamic State group-themed skit that was relatively mundane and quite funny. This doesn't appear to be one of those times. SNL would probably have been better off killing the skit, even if only because they should have realized that frat bro-style snickering over the attractiveness of an accused child molester is really, really low-hanging fruit.
Satire shouldn't have to pass a litmus test, and great comedy often dwells on the morally repulsive. But it's probably a good general rule to steer clear of things like child molestation if the joke is essentially creepy leering. At a time when SNL seems to be recovering from a long stretch of unfunny seasons and general malaise, viewers were probably hoping for something a little more entertaining than a 15-year-old who thinks rape is hilarious.