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Debbie Downer Tackled Coronavirus on Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live’s latest episode tackled the new coronavirus throughout the show. The president’s bizarre press conference at the Centers for Disease Control provided Weekend Update fodder, while the cold open found Kate McKinnon and Jeanine Pirro mocking Fox News’ coverage of the outbreak as the network’s hosts Laura Ingraham and Jeanine Pirro. But SNL also called on one of its alums and brought back a recurring character who perfectly encapsulates the country’s COVID-19 anxieties: Debbie Downer.
The sketch begins with a group of cheery guests enjoying a wedding reception, when a newcomer joins their table wearing something akin to a riot gear mask. It’s Rachel Dratch as Debbie, of course, and though her table mates all reassure her that they’re feeling hale and hearty, she’s quick to point out that, “with COVID-19 you can display no symptoms and still be wildly contagious.”
SNL introduced Debbie Downer in 2004, when Dratch was part the cast, and the character became one of the show’s most famous creations. Dratch left the series in 2006, and though she frequently returns to Studio 6H, most recently to portray former presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar, she last played Debbie in 2015.
In the new sketch, Debbie interrupts the happy couple’s wedding meal to give them her gift—a $25 dollar donation made in their name to her preferred cat charity. Returning to the table, where the other guests are planning to start a line dance, Debbie breaks out the one line guaranteed to dampen any party: “How do you guys feel about Trump?” Check out the full sketch below.
Gabrielle Bruney is a writer and editor for Esquire, where she focuses on politics and culture.