Meet your new Saturday Night Live Donald Trump: Alec Baldwin. Baldwin will debut his Trump impression on Oct. 1’s season premiere, going head-to-head with Kate McKinnon’s flawless Hillary Clinton. And while Baldwin’s appearance is sure to help drum up excitement from viewers, it’s also a horrible idea.
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Baldwin will be the third Donald Trump the show has had in the past year, following in the footsteps of Darrell Hammond and former cast member Taran Killam. On the surface, Baldwin’s casting doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Baldwin has proven himself to be a funny addition to SNL in the past, and he was apparently recommended for the role by comedy goddess Tina Fey. SNL showrunner Lorne Michaels told The Hollywood Reporter that he thought Baldwin was the perfect fit. “I just thought he’d be brilliant doing it and I thought he and Kate [McKinnon] would be a match,” Michaels said.
Michaels and Fey seem pretty confident in Baldwin’s impression abilities. Personally, based on what we’ve seen from him, I think Baldwin is really good at playing, well, more bombastic versions of Alec Baldwin. The thing about Alec Baldwin is, no matter how much makeup you put on him, he’s always Alec Baldwin. Last year on SNL, we got to see Alec Baldwin playing Alec Baldwin as Jim Webb following the first presidential debate. This year, we’ll see Alec Baldwin playing Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump (which is particularly awkward given Baldwin’s history of public outbursts that, looking back, have an air of Trump in them — remember that time he called his 11-year-old daughter “a rude, thoughtless little pig”?
Baldwin’s casting as Trump is particularly sad given the fact that Saturday Night Live had a great Trump on their team already. For the past six years, Taran Killam has been one of SNL’s best impressionists, second only to McKinnon. His Trump wasn’t perfect, but it could have been if he’d only been given more of a chance to perform it on air. And yet, Michaels decided not to pick up Killam’s contract this year, despite the fact that Killam is one of Saturday Night Live’s more popular cast members. In his interview with THR, Michaels explained Killam’s unceremonious firing as born out of a necessity for change. Killam was fired from the show this summer alongside Jay Pharoah — coincidentally, the show’s best Obama — in a move that shocked viewers. “They’ve both been here six years. And if you don’t keep making changes you don’t change. You know?” Michaels told THR. No, Michaels, I do not know.
I firmly believe that letting go of Killam and Pharoah before this election season is over was a mistake. And hiring Baldwin to play Trump is another one. If Michaels thinks that hiring Baldwin to play Trump is the kind of change Saturday Night Live needs, I think that both he and the viewers are going to be sorely disappointed come Saturday night.
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