Disney stirred up controversy when it released a trailer for the new live-action The Little Mermaid. Immediately, racists insisted it would be a terrible film because they cast a Black woman in the lead. But what if the real story — or, at least, the real story as SNL‘s Weekend Update would have it — was that the movie would be terrible because Ariel is terrible?
Ego Nwodim plays Black Ariel (to Update host Colin Jost: “You can just call me Ariel. I don’t call you white Colin… to your face.”) as a mostly normal, mostly trashy person who just happens to be half human and half fish. It’s a fun take on the character that really highlights one of the many reasons why the bigot’s argument is so absurd. The bigot says she’s bad because she’s Black, but Nwodim says she’s bad because 50 percent of her brain is made of fish. Racists spend so much time worrying about the color of her skin when what we really need to be worrying about is where a fish poops from.
As a commentary on celebrities born into money, it works pretty well. Like many rich celebrities, she doesn’t want to be a role model; she just wants to be normal. Like many rich celebrities, she rides around on poor people. Sure, there’s no proof that Paris and Nicky Hilton have done that, but it feels true, right?
Trying to get ahead of cancel culture and any impending scandals, she starts reeling off a list of her bad opinions (pro-Sea World) and worse behavior (caused the BP oil spill). There are a lot of crass sex jokes — about herself and her mom — and jokes about how dumb she is, all of which Nwodim doles out with an exceedingly sly wit.
Jost, as always, is a great straight man and occasional punching bag. His sense of bland entitlement helps maintain the sketch’s rhythm and makes low-key jabs like, “You’re not willing to do the work,” both of which really bring out the sharpness of the satire beneath the vulgarity.
Elsewhere in the episode, four new cast members were introduced and… tasked with an assassination?!
Grade SNL‘s latest episode below, then let us know your thoughts in the comments.