SNL Adds First-Ever Fat Woman to New Cast

After losing some regulars last season—Abby Elliott, Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, and Jason Sudeikis (maybe)—Saturday Night Live announced the three new cast members who’ll be joining the show’s 38th season. One of the three is Aidy Bryant, a Second City alum who just happens to be fat. Though SNL has long showcased the work of funny fat men like Chris Farley, Horatio Sanz, and Kenan Thompson, Bryant is the show’s first-ever fat female hire. Hooray!

Aidy Bryant in a black and white photo
Don’t know about her jokes, but she has great hair.

SNL isn’t exactly known for its groundbreaking diversity. The cast roster is overwhelmingly white, straight, cisgendered, and male, and you could count the women of color on just one hand (two fingers if you look only at the past decade).

Sure, the three new cast members are all white people from the midwest, which is too bad (I’m sure we aren’t the only ones who are tired of the male cast members dressing in drag to play women of color). However, it’s still exciting that SNL is opening doors for fat women in comedy, and even though 2012 is embarrassingly late in the game, this is new ground for the sketch show and it’s kind of a big deal.

In 2000, Tina Fey had to lose 30 pounds before she did Weekend Update, and just a few years ago it was rumored that Casey Wilson was asked to leave Saturday Night Live because she didn’t lose 30 pounds between seasons. Cut to three years later, and SNL can finally have an actual fat woman play the roles written for fat women. It’s about time!

I don’t know much about Bryant, but this video from her website where she and her friends share things is pretty charming:

Again, it’s weird to celebrate Saturday Night Live for deciding to not be shitty to fat women after decades of being shitty to fat women—it’s like thanking someone for not punching you in the face. But even though it took 38 years(!), it’s awesome that audience members will get to see a plus-size woman being hilarious on television every Saturday night.

by Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

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8 Comments Have Been Posted

Not so fast...

While I am happy to see diversity of any kind on SNL, which lacks in both size and ethnic diversity, I will hold off applauding SNL until I see what kind of skits she does. If every time she is on the screen, the focus is on her "fatness" then it will be clear that SNL has missed the mark and only using her to point out her "otherness" (not fitting into the thin white female mold that they are used to). Hopefully they can rise above that, as they did for the most part when Melissa McCarthy hosted the show. But with Aidy being a regular on the show, I want to see how soon/often then fall back on using old tired fat jokes. We shall see...

A feminist website making a

A feminist website making a comment about her hair before anything else. tsk tsk.

I was so excited to see

I was so excited to see Aidy's name on my favorite fem blog . . . and then my heart dropped.

I absolutely understand the good intentions behind this post, the fact that many women have reclaimed the word "fat" in a positive, primary "identifier" kind of way etc, etc, but you focused first on her body size (and hair); her "supposed" talent second. That hurt my big funny feminist heart - BAD.

So you haven't seen Aidy perform - yet. She's brilliant. I've been lucky enough to see her play around Chicago and all of us improv nerds are extremely excited and proud of her.

Maybe she was hired because - gasp - she's great? I know. SNL's track record in terms of hiring diverse performers isn't great . . but can we wait to see her perform a few shows before we 1) create an identity of "fat performer" that she might not claim herself and 2) deem this some sort of evil prank of the writing team/producers.

Aidy's great. We love you!

Roles for fat women?

Great write up, though I agree with a previous poster re: her roles ..

"Cut to three years later, and SNL can finally have an actual fat woman play the roles written for fat women. It's about time!"

Hopefully she will also play roles written for WOMEN and for PEOPLE in addition to roles written for fat women. =)

Also, I don't remember reading about Tina Fey having to lose those 30 lbs in Bossypants. Did she leave it out or did I just forget? Boo to perpetuation of sizeism!

Yes, they hired her...

....but if they have this appalling track record of demanding weight loss from female cast members, what makes you think that demand isn't going to be made of her? ”You're in. Here's money. Now lose 5 pounds a month or you're out again.”

Why "hooray"?? I get that

Why "hooray"?? I get that entertainment shouldn't make women feel self-conscious by only hiring rail-thin actresses / models for shows and films, but I do not understand the latest celebration of morbidly obese people on television?? The times had an article on this latest phenomenon. Granted, morbidly obese men have been in shows / film as well, but I don't get this either.

I guess, with the world's most overweight country, what can one expect. Executives are going to push for putting identifiable actors / entertainers before us. Still don't think it's a good thing.

I guess I'd save the hoorays -- a person who clearly has no self-control and will likely incur health problems due to her obesity is not someone I'd celebrate for being on SNL.

I think SNL is blatantly

I think SNL is blatantly trying to acquire a slice of what made Bridesmaids shine brighter, as well as the public's love of Rebel Wilson. As stereotypical as that sounds, I honestly believe this is what SNL is doing -- embracing the overcoming of stereotypes and the publics rabidly positive response to this, by stereotyping to the extreme just in the unexpected direction.

The midwest (and Canadian) connection to so many SNL members is mostly just location. Chicago and Canada have a pretty good track record with improv and sketch the point it's like them as minor league/"farm teams" for pro baseball players. That's a good system to find someone who is a big star in a small pond, and hasn't been plagued with the LA syndrome. Unfortunately for diversity's sake, nerdy and white has usually been the major percentage of these two scenes, so that's where those odds lay. Not saying SNL doesn't branch out from there, but that's where they have had a high rate of success consistently.

So far, it seems they've steered clear of doing all weight related gags, but it wouldn't surprise me if they try to steer her bits with typical slightly vulgar "fat guy" humor (with the edge being people still aren't used to seeing a female doing it yet).

I will respect SNL slightly more if I don't see any obligatory Adele skits (whether or not she stays relevant). So far, she hasn't been in much, but she holds her own and has been funny or at least competent in her small appearances.

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