I was already listening to She & Him this morning when Hulu notified me that I had a new episode of SNL to watch and none other than Zooey Deschanel was hosting. Good morning!
Deschanel’s tendency to do funny voices and awkward physicality seem like a natural pairing for SNL. And right off the bat, she was poking fun of her own retro-femininity. Her monologue, which featured a song about when your boyfriend forgets Valentine’s Day, opened with her noting that she was wearing a red dress with little hearts on it, “Which I kind of do a lot.” I wondered just how much of the episode was going to feature her lampooning her own public persona. It would make sense given how said image is weirdly controversial, but it would also be so easy.
Fortunately, it wasn’t a huge part of the show. The Atlantic has already done a write-up of the best of the night. I loved the sketch spoofing The Artist (Zooey and Kristin Wiig together!). The His Girl Friday sketch was clever because of the old-fashioned element of Deschanel’s persona. It was kind of refreshing that someone who you could picture in a screwball comedy couldn’t handle the fast-talking: “Is everyone in here on cocaine?” (See below.)
But my favorite segment was “Bein’ Quirky with Zooey Deschanel”. Last year, Deschanel told Lucky Magazine what I have been saying for years, that quirky is just a nicer word for weird. I got the sense that the sketch was not only making fun of the vintage-cutesie-girlieness, but in the choice of guests Mary Kate Olsen and Bjork, the show also mocked the possible self-importance or over self-awareness of this performance of femininity. The sketch is sort-of maybe an example of the kind of awareness of girlieness that I was talking about in my post about the Jess and Julia episode of New Girl. I wonder though, where the line is between self-mockery and making a real point? The sketch clearly makes fun of the quirky girl persona and the girlie, and in this case very spacy, things that go with it. What the sketch doesn’t do, however, is deal with the gendered ideas that are embedded and that are the largest part of the anti-Zooey backlash. The Michael Cera impression was funny, but what was he doing there?