When it was announced that Kerry Washington would be hosting the Nov. 2 episode of Saturday Night Live, I was thrilled. Scandal, the ABC drama on which Washington stars and one of the highest rated network dramas, has become appointment viewing for me and one of only a handful of shows I insist on watching right when it airs (ABC/City, Thursdays, 10 p.m.).
Washington will be the first black woman to host SNL since Maya Rudolph hosted on Feb. 18, 2012 (Rudolph is a SNL alumna who was on the show from 2000 to 2007. Before Rudolph, you’d have to go back to April 24, 2010 to find a black and female host in Gabourey Sidibe).
SNL, currently in its 39th season and which will air its 750th episode with Washington at the helm, is often criticized for its lack of diversity. Of its 16 repertory and featured players, only three (Kenan Thompson, Jay Pharaoh and Nasim Pedrad) are “non-white.” The six actors added to the cast at the start of this season were all white.
Plenty of shows aren’t racially diverse, but this deficiency hurts SNL especially, a show that is supposed to mock and parody popular culture, politics and society. Kenan-in-drag can only do so much.
Here’s a list of women I would like to see host SNL this season:
There is something about the uncertainty and unfamiliarity of a first-time host that makes SNL most fun to watch. We know what a Justin Timberlake or Alec Baldwin-hosted episode will be like, but what a nice surprise when a first-timer knocks it out of the park like Louis C.K., Jennifer Lawrence and Christoph Waltz did last season.
Rashida Jones: She has comedic chops, starring on NBC’s Parks and Recreation; she has an eye and ear for comedy, having written and starred in Celeste and Jesse Forever; here she is playing the TV moustache game on Conan. I’m a little surprised this hasn’t happened yet actually. She has a supporting role in the upcoming Cuban Fury, a comedy starring Nick Frost that is due out on Valentine’s Day 2014. Let’s hope that’s a good enough reason for Lorne Michaels to invite Jones on.
Retta: She’s a stand-up comedian; her Tweets are a riot; she is also on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, so it would be great synergy.
Rihanna: Rihanna has been a musical guest on SNL four times in the last four seasons and she’s proven that she’s game, appearing in two digital shorts alongside Andy Samberg’s Shy Ronnie.
Mindy Kaling: Here’s a comedienne who does not get her due. Her sitcom, The Mindy Project, is in its second season and averages around 3 million viewers a week, despite being one of the funniest on television — and it keeps getting better. Her book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, is also a must-read.
Quvenzhané Wallis: The 10-year-old Oscar nominee would be among the youngest SNL hosts ever (Drew Barrymore hosted when she was 7, Macaulay Culkin when he was 11); she’s infinitely sweet and oozes charisma. She’ll be seen in 12 Years a Slave this year, and the remake of the Annie musical next Christmas.
ONE MORE TIME
Janet Jackson: Ms. Jackson was a musical guest in 1994 and did double-duty in 2004. Will SNL bring her back in 2014? She broke character in the Cork Soakers sketch, but did a mean Condaleezza Rice impersonation (Season 29, episode 17).
Oprah Winfrey: Oprah hosted SNL on April 12, 1986, but so much has changed in the world — she runs it now. Her turn in Lee Daniels’ The Butler is garnering Oscar buzz, and she has been so great in sketches on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Michelle Obama: This.
Who would you like to see host Saturday Night Live?