The emotional satire of “Straight Male Friend” on “SNL”

The sketch show’s latest parody of emotionally distant men had a surprising amount of heart.

Kyle Dubiel/NBC

Super Bowl winners once went to Disney World to celebrate their victories, but Saturday night live has occasionally offered another option. Last night, Kansas City Chiefs tight end and two-time Super Bowl champion Travis Kelce joined quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, who each hosted the skit shortly after winning the big game. Kelce’s towering athletic presence, a rarity for the SNL scene, gave the show a chance to examine masculinity from various angles, including with a surprisingly emotional tenor.

In the taped commercial spoof “Straight Male Friend”, Bowen Yang played a gay man overwhelmed by the financial and emotional demands of his friendships with straight women. He touted the relief he had found in being friends with a straight man, played with sincerity by Kelce. Yang praised this form of “low-effort, low-stakes relationship that requires no emotional commitment, no financial investment, and, aside from the occasional video game-related fling, no drama.”

On the surface, the ad appeared to still be a men’s mission—similar to recent sketches like the infantile “Old Enough! Long live boys!” and acne “Big penis treatment”. But “Straight Male Friend,” which Yang co-wrote with Streeter Seidell and Alex English, captured the isolating norms that contribute to toxic masculinity with a seriousness that heightened its comedic beats. At one point, Kelce mentions that his father “died last week,” prompting Yang’s shocking concern. But Kelce brushed off the difficult experience, later apologizing for “being a pussy” about it.

Thanks to Kelce’s heartfelt, almost endearing portrayal of the straight male friend, who seemed cocooned in his own flat, lackluster world, and the warmth that Yang and his writing team lent to the sketch, “Straight Male Friend” found a more painful way to satirize. straight men—including social conditions that may make it difficult for them to develop and maintain meaningful friendships. Despite its fleeting framing, the sketch seriously portrayed the life of Kelce’s character, making clear the consequences of isolation and the emotional limitations society places on men.

SNL has joked about straight men a lot lately, often using a mocking tone. “Old enough! Long time boys!” was a fake American spin-off of the hit Japanese reality show Quite old!, which follows toddlers as they run errands on their own. the update chose to shade “an equally helpless group”. Equating the men with children, the sketch—in which the male cast members (Mikey Day, Kenan Thompson) played their grown men as wide-eyed and helpless—took on a surreal, exaggerated quality. Similarly, last year’s parody commercial ‘Man Park’ advertised dog park-like recreational facilities for straight men in need of male friends. At this, girlfriends and husbands watched in relief as their partners came in like fangs. As the narrator puts it, “It’s not masculinity that makes intimacy so difficult.”

Another recent sketch, “The Big Penis Cure,” squarely tackled the damage men’s unexplained issues can cause. A woman (Amy Schumer) convinces her “toxic as a mug” partner, Glenn (Andrew Dismukes), to go to therapy by explaining that it’s for men with big penises. Making emotional vulnerability more palatable for Glenn had an effect that was both youthful and effective: Although many of Glenn’s male colleagues mocked him for going to therapy at first, they eventually became jealous when he showed the badge of the game he had won afterward. six months. If therapy doesn’t single-handedly solve the problem of angry young men, the sketch suggests, it’s at least a start—but getting more men to tap into this resource remains a major hurdle. (According to a CDC survey, women in the US are more likely than men to seek treatment for mental health issues.) “Straight Male Friend” was equally implied, closing with a tagline explaining that these types of men can be found everywhere … except for healing. The slippage between what felt satirical and what just felt real gave SNLhis newest sketch on the subject a different edge.

A mistake last night highlighted the simple but effective approach taken by ‘Straight Male Friend’. “Garrett From Hinge” used a wildly indifferent premise to explore another kind of straight man – an angry one. Yang played a Hinge user who had backed out at the last minute and left like a “sukka”. He tracks down the woman he’s supposed to be dating (Heidi Gardner) and the man he dumped him for (Kelce), breaks into her apartment and demands answers. In turns that seemed increasingly strange, Garrett repeatedly excused himself to the bathroom, where he told himself he wasn’t going to kill them. The sketch was getting to a point about creepy men and Garrett’s potential for violence, but it felt vague and underdeveloped. If “Straight Male Friend” was a kind of preview of what men need, “Garrett From Hinge” uncomfortably revealed the dark turn things can take when they don’t get it. Although both sketches caricatured the same subject, Yang showed an important possibility with the first: the deeper humor that comes from infusing a comedic perspective with some heart.

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