Sydney Sweeney on SNL sparks debate about sexualization

“Tonight I’m excited for everyone to get to know the real me. I feel like people only see me as the girl on TV who screams, cries and has sex… but I’m more than that.”

This is how Sydney Sweeney started her monologue during Saturday Night Live (SNL) a few weeks ago. However, fans were disappointed with the skits that followed as they seemingly objectified Sweeney.

The first skit that sparked backlash involves Sweeney portraying a Hooters waitress who receives $36,000 in tips for her “great service.” She also receives a mountain of cash from a male customer who ran to the bank to withdraw the money, and leaves after exclaiming, “damn, she’s fine!” 

The skit ends with Hooter B. Owl, the Hooters mascot, begging Sweeney to stay after she debates quitting. The “punchline” of this section is when he mentions he is going to a funeral and says, “I’m very sad, so if someone could show me their breasts.” Another waitress agrees to it, but he immediately rejects the offer.

The comments on YouTube show a glimpse into the criticism, with user @AndorranStairway commenting, “I swear whoever wrote this sketch wrote it solely to get Sydney Sweeney in a Hooters outfit” and @jasminedragon9030 asking “can we bring back the writers strike?”

Another skit includes Sweeney as a high school cheerleader named Rochelle flirting with a new player on the basketball team, a dog named Bud.

Rochelle calls Bud hot and mentions that she was wearing a bikini during her vacation. However, the most explicit line comes after she finds out about Bud’s girlfriend, another dog, and tries to make him jealous. She mentions, “Just so you know, I’m not strict about condoms. If you don’t have one, I’ll just say ‘be careful, ‘kay?’”

These jokes can be uncomfortable as they excessively hound on Sweeney’s chest or her sexuality. Many people took to X, formally Twitter, and YouTube with complaints surrounding the questionable humor. 

X user @huspsa tweeted, “Challenge for SNL writers: have Sydney tell jokes that aren’t just about her being hot, and speak to her other qualities as an actor and person.” 

However, something was missing from the backlash: Sweeney’s opinion. I didn’t find any criticisms that quoted Sweeney or any complaints from the actress herself.

Outlined on The Hustle Daily is the daily schedule of writing an SNL episode. According to this outline, Monday nights are reserved for a “free-form pitch meeting between the cast, writers, producers including Lorne Michaels, and the guest host…”  

Then, on Wednesday, it mentions that the guest host will join some of the producers and the head writer in figuring out the layout of the show, including a decision on which skits should air. 

Therefore, there’s a high probability that Sweeney, the guest host, was involved in deciding the skits. Plus, I would find it difficult to believe Sweeney wouldn’t refuse to do an uncomfortable skit with how successful she is and her growing power within the producing world with her films “Anyone But You” and “Immaculate.” 

She also participated in an interview with Vanity Fair where she was questioned about being objectified, specifically surrounding SNL’s writing. She responded, “I just can’t allow myself to have a reaction. I don’t know how to explain it — I’m still trying to figure it out myself.” 

In addition to this, she mentions how people believe that she is “not on a human level anymore, because [she’s] an actor.”

It’s the typical story: people falling in love with a celebrity and deifying them to the point where they lose their individuality. In turn, these people can be highly disrespectful and overstep boundaries easily.

Looking at everything, it seems that the backlash is excessive and her fans are choosing to fight a battle that she doesn’t want to fight. Sweeney still decided to play these roles and approve these jokes. I see it as her leaning into the role, even if I’ll admit I was disappointed I didn’t learn more about her as a person like she had mentioned we would. 

The jokes certainly were uncomfortable and the writing as a whole was mediocre, but if Sweeney holds no grudges against the writers or the jokes, then it shouldn’t matter to the audience as much as it has. Sweeney is a person, too, and she’s an up-and-coming, powerful force in cinema, so it’s safe to say she can fight her own battles.


Featured photo courtesy of @sydney_sweeney, Instagram