Saturday Night Live is known for its boundary pushing comedy, and while sometimes it works, sometimes people feel that they crossed the line.
Over the years, the show has found itself in trouble for everything, from the people they choose to host, to the sketches they choose to write.
So, here are nine sketches that drew heavy criticism.
Recently, Saturday Night Live offered its take on the Try Guys cheating scandal, and many viewers felt that the show went after the wrong people, and that they misrepresented the situation.
Among chief concerns from viewers was that SNL made light of the power dynamics at play between the former Try Guy, Ned, and the employee he had an extramarital relationship with.
A viral tweet from @jeannesaintremy read, “Is it just me or is it kinda screwed up that they are making fun of a POWER DYNAMIC of a sexual relationship between a company’s founder and one of its employees??” A sentiment that was shared by many on social media.
In an episode where star of Django Unchained Christoph Waltz hosted, the sketch show gave Jesus’s story the Quentin Tarantino treatment in a parody called “Djesus Uncrossed.”
The reimagining saw Jesus go on a violent and bloody revenge streak, which was received just about as well as you’d expect by the Christian community. The parody even managed to offend the Council on American-Islamic Relations who released a statement saying, “Such misrepresentation of what Jesus…stands for is extremely offensive to Muslims and to all those who believe in his message.”
Shortly after Tiger Woods’s cheating scandal went public in 2009, Saturday Night Live offered their take on the situation, with Kenan Thompson playing Tiger and host Blake Lively playing his now ex-wife Elin Nordegren in the sketch, “The Situation Room: Tiger Woods’ Accidents.”
At the time, there were reports that Elin hit Woods with a golf club, and the satirical take where Kenan’s Tiger Woods keeps showing up on screen increasingly battered did not go over well.
“There’s nothing funny about this story, particularly if violence was part of the events that took place,” said president of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Rita Smith, “It diminishes people’s support for victims of domestic violence.”
This 1988 sketch titled “Nude Beach” was very controversial in its day for using the word “penis” over 40 times. Lol.
Written by a young Conan O’Brien, the sketch was extremely boundary pushing for its time and took full advantage of recently relaxed censorship guidelines for network TV.
This very recent sketch from SNL‘s current season depicts the cast as the bright blue Bears from the Charmin commercials. While the content of the parody isn’t offensive, many have accused the show for stealing the concept outright.
Fans have alleged that Saturday Night Live stole the sketch from popular YouTuber Joel Haver, who released an animated comedy video titled “Toilet Paper Bears” earlier this summer.
Both sketches depict the bear son wanting to leave the family toilet paper business to pursue a life in the arts.
Fans of the YouTuber noticed the similarities immediately, and called SNL out on Twitter.
Even the skeptics found it hard to ignore how blatant the similarities are.
Joel Haver responded to the situation in a video posted to his YouTube channel, where he said, “When it comes to the Charmin bears thing, there’s a lot of coincidences that would have to line up to make it truly a coincidence, but I don’t think it was malicious.”
This highly controversial SNL sketch saw host Alec Baldwin playing a scoutmaster alongside Adam Sandler’s recurring character, Canteen Boy.
Throughout the performance, Baldwin’s character makes sexual advances toward Sandler, and it made the audience uncomfortable at best.
A rep for Boy Scouts of America responded to this depiction of an apparent sexual relationship between scout and scoutmaster, saying, “We see nothing funny about child molestation, and are surprised that this unfunny subject would be selected for a comedy sketch.”
After the public backlash, Baldwin addressed the controversy head-on when he returned as host a year later, explaining, “Now, even though the character of Canteen Boy is a grown man, a perfectly intelligent 27-year-old, not a child, some people got the wrong idea, and frankly, all hell broke loose.”
Unfortunately, people didn’t get loud about this sketch until way after it aired. I’m not saying people weren’t upset, but the backlash didn’t really come out in full force until around 2020.
Fallon has stated he deeply regrets doing the sketch in hindsight. “There is no excuse for this. I am very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive decision, and thank all of you for holding me accountable,” Jimmy wrote in a statement.
And in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Rock chalked the sketch up to “bad comedy” and that Jimmy “doesn’t have a racist bone in his body.”
Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg’s “Dick in a Box” sketch is beloved by many, but as revealed in a report by the Atlantic, so many people sent complaints to the FCC about it that it was the second most complained about sketch in its time, beat out only by “Djesus Uncrossed.”
The report said that people found the sketch to be a “profane attempt at humor…not funny and beyond vulgar.”
A few years back, Justin revealed that the FCC almost didn’t let them do the sketch, and they had to negotiate with them in order to include the short in the Season 32 episode.
Many others were upset because they felt there were double standards at play. It wasn’t lost on people how the sexually provocative sketch aired on live TV without Justin suffering any consequences, while Janet Jackson with whom he infamously performed with at the 2004 Super Bowl, suffered major setbacks in her career after he exposed her breast during the broadcast.
One Twitter user wrote, “I’m not quite sure how his “DICK IN THE BOX” sketch was fine on SNL, but this harmless wardrobe issue became the shot heard round the world.”
In 2015, reality TV star Donald Trump hosted SNL, which stirred up a lot of controversy at the time it aired, and again a year later when the Apprentice host won the 2016 US presidential race.
The show would go on to make fun of Trump throughout his entire stay in the Oval Office, but people were not quick to forgive the sketch show for giving the hotel chain owner a platform.
There wasn’t a specific sketch that caused the uproar; just his presence was enough to make people uncomfortable, including SNL‘s cast members.
Former cast member Taran Killam spoke to NPR about the experience, saying, “It was rough. It was not enjoyable at the time and something that only grows more embarrassing and shameful as time goes on.”
Colin Jost also spoke out about the episode in an interview with MSNBC, where he shared that “There have been some hosts over the years who are real ‘Confederate statues’ of entertainment. And that episode of SNL has not aged well, politically or comedically.”
Are there any controversial sketches that didn’t make this list? Let us know in the comments!