Critics slam SNL skit that mocks masks, vaccines and the CDC: ‘More sad than funny’

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A “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) skit mocked the theatrics surrounding what became common COVID-19 dinner table discussions about mask mandates, vaccines and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Critics hammered the skit’s timing, as it came days after the CDC announced it would be loosening its mask guidance after many states also elected to end their indoor face covering mandates in recent weeks.

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NEW YORK, NY - JULY 25: John Mulaney and Annamarie Tendler pose at the opening night party for the new musical based on the film "Moulin Rouge! The Musical" on Broadway at The Hammerstein Ballroom on July 25, 2019 in New York City. 

NEW YORK, NY – JULY 25: John Mulaney and Annamarie Tendler pose at the opening night party for the new musical based on the film “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” on Broadway at The Hammerstein Ballroom on July 25, 2019 in New York City. 
(Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)

Author and retired gymnast Jennifer Sey said she lost her job over for asking questions similar to what was asked during the SNL skit. “2 years in I guess it’s okay for comedians to challenge the groupthink but certainly wasn’t okay for parents the past 24 months,” she tweeted. She wondered, in an earlier tweet, what people were laughing at. 

Sey, who was vocal and outspoken about her beliefs on school closings and mask mandates for kids, was told by her company in 2021 that she had to avoid speaking out about certain topics, NPR reported. 

Clay Travis said it was “amazing how quickly the pivot has happened.”

Brent Scher, executive editor at the Washington Free Beacon, said the skit was “more sad than funny.” 

“It’s been obvious for a long time that even the committed mask-wearers know its pointless and are just scared to open their mouths,” he wrote on Twitter. 

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, agreed with Travis and said “the saddest part is this could be a real conversation.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and other members of the Republican Conference leave a luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 24, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and other members of the Republican Conference leave a luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 24, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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The New York Post editorial board criticized the skit in a Feb. 28 editorial headlined “Even ‘Saturday Night Live’ has awakened to mask mandates.”

“Hard to believe, but ‘Saturday Night Live’ had a skit mocking liberals this past week. Perhaps because the host was John Mulaney, the former ‘SNL’ writer whose humor often skewers the pretentious,” The Post writes. 

The editorial board said it captured “liberal guilt” over question rules and mandates. 

John Mulaney hosted the Feb. 26 episode of SNL and took part in the “COVID Dinner Discussion” skit. The skit starts with Mulaney, Kenan Thompson, Heidi Gardner, Kate McKinnon, Bowen Yang and Aidy Bryant gathered around a dinner table when Gardner attempts to bring up an article that suggests mask mandates had no effect on coronavirus. 

After quickly clarifying that she wasn’t “anti-mask,” Thompson says that it was OK and that they could talk about the “incredibly complicated and emotional topic.”

Kenan Thompson attends the 47th Annual People's Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on December 07, 2021 in Santa Monica, California.

Kenan Thompson attends the 47th Annual People’s Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on December 07, 2021 in Santa Monica, California.
(Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

McKinnon says she’s relieved to be vaccinated and Mulaney is the first to interrupt and say “careful.” After not being able to get her words out, Mulaney attempts to finish her thought.

“Did i have to dump my oldest friend just because he didn’t get … a booster?” he says as McKinnon tries to stop him.  

“At least we have the CDC, I mean they haven’t always been perfect, but the science changed,” Bryant says at one point. Thompson responds by asking “how does science change??”

“When I make a mistake at work, I don’t get to say ‘the science changed,’” he continues. 

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