The SNL men are the Emmy bosses this time, and the TV fans need to know it.
Michael Che and Colin Jost sit on Weekend Update every week and are also two of SNL’s four co-head writers. They are prominent within their industry and that prominence made NBC pick them as the hosts of this year’s Emmy awards, which air on NBC some time in September. Che and Jost have been developing, both individually and collectively, a rep within certain circles for being, uh, let’s call it politically problematic, between Che’s sexism, ambivalence towards Trump and apparent need to defend almost anybody from criticism, and Jost’s whole-hearted embrace of upper crust white affluence and jokes that are dismissive of trans and gender issues. Go read our former assistant editor Seth Simons’ piece about these two from 2016, and then add almost two years worth of minor embarrassments to their tally to get a rough idea of what we’re taking about here.
From the day it was announced it was a baffling choice to have these two host an event like this. Even if you set aside the bad look of these two specific guys hosting this show at this current moment in history, they also simply aren’t as well-known as any late night talk show host, despite SNL’s popularity. This seems like a decision on NBC’s part calibrated to boost their profiles more than anything else, perhaps in case they have to start grooming somebody for one of those late night jobs. (C’mon, it’d be Jost. C’mon. That’s the most obvious thing in the world.) These are especially political times and despite a variety of (usually meek, rarely pointed or issues-based) political jokes on every installment of Weekend Update Che and Jost have firmly established that they just aren’t that interested in making any firm political stands in their comedy, despite telegraphing (and endorsing) all kinds of political ideals by their words and actions and refusal to get political. That’s kind of the thing about politics: trying to avoid, ignore or downplay them is itself a political act (and usually one of cowardice). So when Jost tells Vanity Fair that they’re looking forward to the Emmys because they’ll get to do something that’s not political, and makes fun of complaints over their politics in the same article, he’s simultaneously abandoning part of his responsibility and also still being political.
Yes, this is all crucial background to this 40 second ad NBC has released for the Emmys. You’ll see why when you watch it, or when you keep reading this paragraph and learn that in the ad Che makes a Leno-worthy joke about voters as setup to mocking the discussion around their politics and whether they’ll be doing political material at the Emmys. It’s totally in keeping with their general attitude that none of this shit matters, I guess, so at least they’re being consistent. You can watch it below, and if you somehow like what you see you can catch these two doing the Emmys stuff in like exactly one month, or something.