SNL’s latest cold open tackles mask-wearing scenarios and new CDC guidance.
This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that fully vaccinated people can discard their masks in most circumstances — and Saturday Night Live brought back Kate McKinnon as Anthony Fauci to celebrate, and explain, in its latest cold open.
McKinnon, who introduces herself in the skit “your boy Fauci, the patron saint of Purell,” opens the scene by announcing to a cheering press conference that “we got some very good news this week, and I’m not just talking about JLo and Ben Affleck.”
But, McKinnon’s Fauci says, people still have questions — like “what the hell are you talking about?” and “is this a trap?” — and so introduces “a few doctors at the CDC who minored in theatre” to explain the new rules with scenes like “man walks into a bar.”
In reality, as Vox’s German Lopez has explained, the CDC “embraced the power of the Covid-19 vaccines” to ease restrictions and send a message that things can start to return to normal for vaccinated Americans. According to the CDC (the real one, not the SNL one), “fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting,” indoors or outdoors, though there are a handful of exceptions.
Those exceptions — settings where people should continue to wear a mask for the time being, regardless of vaccination status — include “health care settings, public transportation, prisons, jails, and homeless shelters,” and people should still follow state and local laws, which may be more strict than the new CDC guidance.
However, SNL’s “CDC Players” don’t quite end up modeling the behavior they should: In the first scene, Beck Bennett, playing a CDC doctor playing a bar patron, takes off his mask before revealing that he is still unvaccinated.
“I’m entering a bar at 11 am,” Bennett tells Aidy Bryant, another of the CDC doctors. “Did you really think I was vaxxed? Because that’s on you.”
The cold open also spoofs the Capitol riot on January 6 in another scene by the “CDC Players.”
“I’m concerned. This is a pretty large gathering,” Alex Moffat tells Cecily Strong. “Should we be wearing masks?”
“We don’t have to, because we’re outside… the Capitol building! Now come on, let’s get ’em!” Strong says, pulling out a gun as Moffat dons a MAGA hat.
Another scene — a couple dining outside, without masks, which fully vaccinated people can do — is interrupted by a third CDC doctor who “takes improv classes,” a resigned-sounding McKinnon says. “Because that’s what everyone wants, a doctor to improvise.”
A maskless Pete Davidson also makes an appearance as a New York City transit masturbator, who promises “to put a mask on it first,” and the scenarios get increasingly bizarre before a bemused McKinnon introduces “the big finale, entitled ‘Society is Good Again: A Vision for the Future.’”
The “CDC Players” from previous scenes reconvene, with a dancing Bennett remarking that “everything is fine now” as Bowen Yang tells the audience that “I’m using my old mask as a parachute for my hamster,” and McKinnon ends the skit.
“In summary, please, everyone, get the vaccine and enjoy life with no masks,” she says. “And live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”