Melissa McCarthy has created her own brand of humor throughout her career, often characterized by exasperation and anger, which she is currently using in new ways. In The Heat, McCarthy channeled this exasperation towards the stickler FBI agents taking over her jurisdiction. In Spy, she railed against an international weapons dealer. But in her latest appearances on Saturday Night Live (SNL), McCarthy directed her aggressive humor into an impression of a man who could definitely use a chill pill— White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
In the sketches, McCarthy, dressed as Spicer, takes the Trump administration’s animosity towards the press to outrageous lengths, including threatening reporters and shooting them with super soaker water guns to wash their“filthy lying mouths.” “When I say rocky start, I mean it in the sense of Rocky the movie because I came out here to punch you,” says McCarthy. McCarthy’s Spicer even locks a CNN reporter in a cage under charges of being “fake news.” Yet, while reporters get under McCarthy’s skin on SNL, the sketches have done their fair share of damage to the real Sean Spicer’s standing in the White House.
Although Spicer laughed off SNL’s portrayal of him, cracking a line that “Melissa needs to slow down on the gum chewing,” others in the administration were not as willing to let it go. According to Vanity Fair, Kellyanne Conway walked out of a meeting in outrage after staffers mentioned McCarthy’s sketch.
While President Trump was silent on Twitter, which may be even more disconcerting, this indignation extended all the way to the oval office. According to Politico, President Trump did not take kindly to the sketch because “He doesn’t like his people to look weak.”
When I watch the sketches, I don’t see McCarthy’s portrayal of Spicer as weak. Hostile and unhinged, definitely, but not weak. No, what really got under Trump’s skin, and what made those sketches mean so much more to the resistance movement against our Head of State, was that his press secretary was played, and therefore mocked, by a woman.
Yet a woman in drag mocked the Press Secretary of the White House administration that. according to Axios Media, enforces a dress code that “women must dress like women” and whose female staffers “feel pressure to wear dresses to impress President Trump.” Politico reported that even allies close to Trump found McCarthy’s appearance and impersonation incredibly accurate, which must be an ego-crushing blow to those enforcing these policies that verge on overt sexism.
What makes McCarthy’s casting deliver a real knockout blow (As in Rocky the movie) is that a woman mocked the spokesperson of a man who has demeaned and objectified women for years. And, she did it on live television; Trump’s home turf.
Now, satirizing Spicer isn’t hard to do, but in casting a woman for the hypermasculine mouthpiece of sexist regime, SNL made far more of an impact than it would have otherwise. Sure enough, Kate McKinnon is now regularly donning drag to play Attorney General Jeff Sessions to capitalize on this sore spot of the current administration. Thus, the women of Studio 8H will likely continue leading the barrage against Trump’s top appointments, just as women are leading the resistance across the country.
As for Spicer, it’s no surprise that the Press Secretary of an administration that has twisted its words, shown unprecedented animosity towards the press, and spread their fair share of fake news (such as the terrorist attacks in “Orlanta”) found himself in SNL’s crosshairs. After all, McCarthy was just trying to wash his filthy lying mouth.