Opinion: Tom Hanks reaches across political aisle


Gabby Seed BW

Gabby Seed

Legendary actor Tom Hanks shook things up last Saturday when he hosted “Saturday Night Live” at New York City’s Studio 8H.

Unlike most hosts, Hanks was lucky enough to star in the cold open. His spot-on portrayal of Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, the moderator of the third and final presidential debate, left him unrecognizable.

SNL hosts often have a tendency to insert their own personalities into sketches, sometimes even drawing attention to their own music or careers. To me, this is not the point of SNL whatsoever. It’s a show that creates memorable characters and moments and draws attentions to current events and conflicts.

Hanks fit in perfectly with this philosophy and was the ideal SNL host. He played a mix of starring and feature roles while seamlessly latching on to the cues and dynamics of a cast of which he is not normally a part. It was refreshing to see a host who fully embraced SNL for what it is, and I’m hopeful that the rest of season 42 is full of stars like Hanks.

He was featured in almost every sketch during the course of the night and not a single one fell flat. It’s been months, if not years, since I’ve said that about an episode of SNL and genuinely meant it.

A recurring sketch and fan favorite entitled “Black Jeopardy!” starring Kenan Thompson, who has been on the variety show for 14 seasons, cast Hanks as Doug, a white Trump supporter. The host and contestants of “Black Jeopardy!” — all of who are black — are surprised when Doug answers so many questions correctly, indicating that perhaps he experiences similar political problems addressed on the game show.

An Oct. 24 article in The Washington Post described the sketch best: “It found common ground between African Americans and rural white conservatives: a sense of disenfranchisement, a distrust of authorities and, more playfully, an appreciation of curvy women.”

The sketch — which drew attention to the fact that there will always be commonalities across any political aisle no matter how deep the divides — was refreshing and oddly heartwarming. We’re just two weeks out from the presidential election, and yet it seems that fresh mud is slung almost daily.

Of course, we all love the hilarious Kate McKinnon-Alec Baldwin duo, but it’s disturbing when the debate sketches become almost indistinguishable from the real things; can’t we at least agree on that?

Tom Hanks and the writers at SNL reminded us that yes, we do indeed have more in common than we think. Perhaps, with all the mud being slung, we’re having trouble seeing this clearly.

Keep your heads up, voters, and keep looking for those rare, unifying moments.

Gabby Seed is a columnist, contact her at [email protected].