It’s no surprise Saturday Night Live opened with a sketch about the election, but what happens in the cold open is one more indication of how exceptional the 2016 election has been.
About seven minutes into the skit, Fake Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin) tells fake Hillary Clinton (Kate McKinnon), “When I’m elected, I will assign a special prosecutor to make sure she never…”
Baldwin can’t finish the sentence though and sighs before saying, “I’m sorry, Kate. I just hate yelling all this stuff at you like this,” directly to McKinnon, breaking the fourth wall. He then turns to the audience and says “I just feel gross all the time about this. Don’t you all feel gross?” As NBC News points out, this departure from character is highly unusual.
The character-breaking montage was a departure from how the iconic sketch show has traditionally behaved in the final performance before an election, although 2016 has been no traditional campaign season.
The pair proceed to the streets of Times Square to hug unsuspecting strangers, eat pretzels, and have a good time. It’s a feel-good, coming-together scene that takes a jab at how ridiculous this year’s election has gotten while also reflecting how eager all of us are to be on the other side of Tuesday.
If the sketch had ended there, it would just be a criticism of the nasty election cycle, faulting politics rather than anyone specifically. But back at the studio, it turns into a get out the vote effort.
“None of this would have mattered if you don’t vote,” Baldwin says, still out of character.
Then McKinnon says, “We can’t tell you who to vote for, but on Tuesday we all get a chance to choose what kind of country we want to live in.” She might not be able to say it, but keeping in mind Trump’s frightening policies, it’s clear what kind of country she hopes America chooses to be.