Why Is ‘Saturday Night Live’ Being Slammed for Its Parody of Britney Spears’ Memoir ‘The Woman in Me?’

You either die young enough to keep loving Saturday Night Live or live long enough to realize that they’ve been coasting for a while. It’s a coming-of-age tradition: The shift from laughing at Stefon to wondering when the writers stopped trying.

The evening of Nov. 11, 2023, marked the changing of the guard for a new generation, with a whole new age of SNL skepticism born from a single, stupid bit. The sketch that killed the vibe in the room was a spin on a classic, with cast members imagining what various celebrities would look and sound like auditioning for iconic roles. If it’s a familiar premise, it’s only because they’ve been doing it since Bill Hader was on the show.

This time, the setup saw a cavalcade of celebrity impersonators reading excerpts from the recently released Britney Spears memoir, The Woman in Me, hoping to land a gig reading the official audiobook adaptation. Heidi Gardner portrays Allison Janney, and Timothee Chalamet does a solid Martin Scorsese. It’s a fun, toothless time, watching living caricatures of the rich and famous narrating real-life segments of Spears’ book.

So here’s where the show lost folks. Chloe Fineman, doing an impression of actress Julia Fox, reads the following words: “‘Okay, I’m ready, put it in,’ I said and he replied: ‘It’s in.’ My world collapsed.” Cutting comedy. Here’s the problem:

The “excerpt” in question was fake, tweeted by user @TheHalfBloodLad on Oct. 16, 2023, around the same time when clips from Spears’ book were going viral. It was someone else’s joke. What’s more, it was someone else’s someone else’s joke, and a poor one at that. As the original poster openly admitted while speaking with HuffPost, the gag was lifted from Sex and the City. Not only did SNL lift a joke, they lifted a lifted joke, added nothing to it except a celebrity impression, and called it beer o’clock.

What happens next is complicated. Twitter users called for @TheHalfBloodLad to receive a writing credit for the sketch, implying that it should be the first person who steals a joke that gets acclaim, like how Christopher Columbus got a whole holiday for being the fifth or sixth guy to visit America.

Meanwhile, further outrage was targeted at the content of the sketch itself, with social media users seeing it as a cheap dig at Spears’ painful experiences, which were used by SNL to conjure a few laughs.

The sketch itself remains online, having racked up nearly 400,000 views in its first half a day on YouTube. From a historical perspective, the consequences at Studio 8H could go one of two ways. Either the writers responsible for the gaff will be reprimanded severely, never working in comedy again, or the “Julia Fox reads secondhand tweets and takes credit for them” character will get her own movie.

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