Overuse and Repetitive Obnoxiousness Make Kristen Wiig an All-Time SNL Worst

Overuse and Repetitive Obnoxiousness Make Kristen Wiig an All-Time SNL Worst

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Kristen Wiig joined Saturday Night Live in 2005 amidst its female renaissance. After years of being a boy\’s club, SNL\’s biggest stars were its women cast members, with Tina Fey serving as head writer and co-anchoring Weekend Update alongside Amy Poehler. Yet, even as Fey and Poehler shined, Wiig displayed a brazen go-for-broke performance style and was easily one of the show\’s fastest rising stars.

When Fey and Poehler left SNL to do 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation, respectively, the torch was passed to Wiig to carry on the show\’s girl-power resurgence. While Wiig is an immensely talented comedienne, her tenure as SNL\’s go-to player has undone the goodwill Fey and Poehler built. Thanks to essentially playing the exact same obnoxious character in every skit, being dreadfully overused and basically hijacking the show from the other performers, Kristen Wiig is becoming one of SNL\’s all-time worst cast members.

She’s been nominated for an Emmy for her SNL work and many fans adore her, but humor is extremely subjective and Wiig\’s inferiority can be argued even without saying whether or not you find her funny. When she appears on screen, I cringe because I already know what\’s coming since she essentially plays the same character in every skit she\’s in. For example, here are descriptions of some of her regular characters:

  • Target lady – A Target cashier who over reacts to minor situations with elaborate over-the-top lines, gestures and mannerisms. Her weird, overblown behavior makes everyone around her uncomfortable.
  • Penelope – A woman who has to one up everyone else\’s stories. She uses over-the-top hyperbolic lies, coupled with manic gestures and mannerisms to make everyone around her uncomfortable.
  • Judy Grimes – An awkward commentator whose nervousness is illustrated by constant use of the phrase “just kidding.” She delivers fast, over-the-top hyperbolic lies in rapid succession that make everyone around her uncomfortable.
  • Shana – an overblown Marilyn Monroe-esque caricature who says non-sexy things in an over-the-top sexy manner. Her weird lines, gestures and mannerisms make everyone around her uncomfortable.
  • Mindy Gracin – an old movie starlet whose inappropriate outbursts ruin an old game show. She repeatedly blurts out the one phrase she isn\’t supposed to say, using over-the-top mannerisms and gestures that make everyone around her uncomfortable.
  • Sue – a partygoer who cannot contain her excitement regarding surprises. Her repetitive inappropriate outbursts and odd, over-the-top gestures make everyone around her uncomfortable
  • Gilly – a psychotic child/clown hybrid who hurts people when no one is looking. Her odd appearance and over-the-top facial expressions make everyone around her (and everyone who\’s seen a Gilly skit) uncomfortable.

It\’s as if Kristen Wiig saw Gloria Swanson\’s performance in Sunset Boulevard and thought it was too subtle and should be overblown and applied to every one of her comedic creations. Each of her characters are one-trick-ponies that have the exact same traits, mannerisms and ticks. Her Target lady character was a success, so she decided to make every single character a mild variation of her.

Her impressions of actual people aren\’t much better. Other than different costumes and a slightly altered voice, what is the difference between her Judy Garland, Suze Orman and Kathy Lee Gifford impressions? They all have the same elaborate mannerisms that are all slight variations from everything else Wiig does.

Also, Wiig is seemingly in every single SNL skit, as if she were the host each week. In the most recent episode, she was in six of the nine live skits – second only to host Jon Hamm – while the other female cast members were relegated to sporadic supporting appearances. Abby Elliott could\’ve easily been the female lead in the “I Didn\’t Ask for This” viral video sketch, but Wiig was the star of the sketch, as she had been in each that preceded it.

In addition to being overused, she hijacks the spotlight from anyone forced to share the screen with her. When Kristen Wiig is in a skit, it is a Kristen Wiig skit. She will be the focus of attention and other performers must react to her instead of acting with her. With only a few exceptions (like the horrendous parodies of The View), skits featuring Wiig revolve primarily around her and everyone else must play the straight man/woman who acknowledges how zany her behavior is. In the recent Emma Stone hosted episode, an entire skit was based on this premise, as Stone was forced to stand solemnly beside Wiig – who was portraying an overly excited HGTV host – and simply be the normal one who illustrates just how wacky Wiig can be.

There have certainly been less talented SNL performers (i.e. Keenan Thompson, Horatio Sanz, Ellen Cleghorne), but Wiig\’s crimes – including overuse, repetitive obnoxiousness and notorious spotlight stealing – are making her one of the long-running comedy\’s worst cast members. Yet, she has shown how funny she can be without relying on the one-note characters currently plaguing SNL. She has been brilliant in guest spots in Flight of the Conchords and Bored to Death and has held her own in supporting film roles in Knocked Up and the criminally underrated Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.

Wiig\’s prominence on SNL is also setting a bad precedence for new female cast members. Second year featured player Nasim Pedrad has introduced 2 different characters in her short tenure: an extremely nerdy girl fascinated with her older brother and an extremely nerdy girl fascinated with her parents – essentially the same obnoxious character. Though the blame for Wiig\’s performances may lie with the writers, producers or executives who are enabling her, unless she suddenly finds a burst of originality, one of SNL\’s most talented performers will tragically be remembered as one of its worst.

  • http://mathurmarquee.blogspot.com Manish Mathur

    I agree with you! She is good but less of her would make her much better!

  • Brad Burra

    I have to agree. She is becoming Gilly.

  • Tim

    thank god! I thought I was the only one thinking this.

    She’s funny…but she’s in EVERY DAMN SKIT! There are other people in the cast..let them have some screen time.

    Abby Elliot has been around SNL for a while now but it’s like she hasn’t been given a chance to develop because they put Wiig in EVERYTHING

  • Santana

    I gravely disagree. And I think this article is anything but subjective, and has a true cynicism in it that I can only expected rooted in some sort of jealous bitterness. She is immensely talented with two Emmy nominations. This article is nothing but jealous fatigue and I’m disgusted someone would write such a scathingly unwarranted “critique”.

    Bluntly saying that she will be remembered as one of SNL’s worst (a glaringly INDIVIDUAL opinion) is preposterous, seeing as how she is already heralded as one of the funniest women on SNL, a sentiment repeated by the likes of Ana Gasteyer and Tina Fey.

    And comparing her Kathy Lee Gifford to her Judy Garland makes absolutely no sense. This article is pure drab. You are entitled to your own opinion, but saying statemtns like she will go down as the worst in SNL history goes absolutely against every major opinion in the media and in Hollywood. EW has listed her as one of the 25 funniest women in Hollywood as well as listing her in the 2009 15 Greatest Performances. She is HERALDED as one of SNL’s greatest females.

    • Sabrina

      She annoys the piss out of me and I harbor no jealousy toward the girl who is the reason I turn off SNL. You’re the lone person supporting Kristen; ever stop to consider you’re the problem? Probably not since all those big words cloud your thoughts.
      Get over yourself … and Wiig sucks.

    • Michael Huff

      I’m with you, Santana. I think most of the people who’ve weighed in on this obnoxious article are a bunch of pointy-headed shit-for-brains who think shows like Mama’s Family are funny.

  • Eric

    Come on, SNL has been obnoxious over used repetitiveness since the mid 90’s. It’s not that funny unless you’re stoned or drunk. With rhianna last week, the digital short was EXACTLY the same as when rhianna was on last year. You can’t blame the actors when their writers are drilling them into the ground with repetition. Wiig gets the blame because the writers have to use her otherwise every skit would be a complete bomb.

    • Chad Shanks

      I agree, Eric. The “Shy Ronnie” sketch was exactly the same as the last one, just a different setting. The writers may be the real ones to blame here.

  • Ruby Hidalgo

    I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH ERIC!

  • John

    Whats the matter Chad she blow you off. How about a new title for this article “The Worst Three Minutes Spent Reading” .

  • Ethan

    Damn Sabrina….ugly much? I’d be willing to bet not just on the inside.

  • Kate

    Oh my God, Chad, THANK YOU for writing this. My sister and I thought we were the only ones who had these thoughts about Wiig, since the audience’s reaction to her furious mugging and seizure-like movements always seems to be delighted, uproarious laughter.
    Basically, everything we’ve ever said/thought about her was summed up in your piece.
    I really hate to bash and revel in negativity about someone who, in their real life, seems to be a kind person. But dear God, does she suck the comedic potential out of every sketch she’s in.
    Contrary to Lorne Michaels’ belief, she is NOT the second coming of Gilda Radner.

  • Michael Huff

    Disagree totally. You’re an idiot and the rest of you who agree with him are a bunch of bandwagon jumpers. Kristen is one of the funniest cast members ever on this show. If anyone deserves to go it’s Will Forte. Worst. George. W. Bush. Impression. Evuh.

    Kristen is very creative and so far is the only cast member to do “crazy” as well as Molly Shannon.

    • Chad Shanks

      Will Forte is gone. And his Bush impression was terrible.

      I agree that Kristen does “crazy” well, the problem is that’s all she does.

  • I have hair, no wiig needed

    Santana, really? It’s not a stretch to say she’s “one of the funniest women on SNL” how’s this? she’s one of the funniest HUMANS on SNL. Doesn’t make her funny, the cast is less than a dozen people. I’m one of the funniest people to comment on this post, how much is that saying?

  • Jack

    “Wiig displayed a brazen go-for-broke performance style and was easily one of the show\’s fastest rising stars.”

    Then:

    “While Wiig is an immensely talented comedienne, her tenure as SNL\’s go-to player has undone the goodwill Fey and Poehler built. Thanks to essentially playing the exact same obnoxious character in every skit, being dreadfully overused and basically hijacking the show from the other performers, Kristen Wiig is becoming one of SNL\’s all-time worst cast members.”

    Chad uses the ‘She coulda been great but she sucks” overused writing cliche to harp on characters that are SUPPOSED to be annoying. Great job!

    Please let us know when he actuallys write something insightful rather just dribble that’s pretending to be.

  • Jake

    The reason Kristen Wiig is used SO MUCH is b/c she is the only female cast member who is able! There have been hardly any women since the Dratch-Fey-Rudolph-Poehler group quit one by one. I blame Lorne Michaels. If he refuses to cast women, SNL will soon have no ground to stand on. The same goes for African American castmembers. There is a reason that (up until now) Kennan Thompson has been used to play EVERY BLACK CHARACTER, including men. It’s no surprise though, b/c Lorne Michaels turned away many talented people throughout his career, like Kathy Griffin and Lisa Kudrow.

    Also, you can’t blame Kristen for running away with scenes. If someone ‘runs away with the scene’ it means that all the attention is on them and that the audience loved them. Why would you cut someone down for making the audience laugh? God knows the last thing SNL needs are more awkward skits where no one laughs, like the one from two weeks ago about the cops who fell in love, or the one where Keenan kept falling down (a Kristen-centered skit is never one of these, btw).

    Also, a guest star cant be expected to come in and be the life of every scene unless that is how they perform anyway. If Lorne Michaels keeps inviting boring celebrities like Megan Fox, then the castmembers will NEED to be the focus of the skits. However, I feel this tide may be turning, with the selection those like Betty White, John Hamm and Jane Lynch, who aren’t afraid to put themselves out there and be funny. Or just are truly funny.

    Kristen is probably the most talented comedienne on SNL in the last two decades. I love Tina Fey, but she had hardly any range. She shone brightest on Weekend Update, a different kind of comedy. She is better suited on a show like 30 Rock. Amy Poehler also was amazing, as were Mya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon and Cheri O’Terri…but none of them took on the load that Kristen must carry, week in and week out. She is SNL’s go to performer, not b/c of ego or selfishness, but b/c she can literally do anything. She has numerous original characters, which are constantly evolving, and she can literally do any celebrity impression. She will continue to be the star of SNL until Lorne Michaels gets his shit together and casts some more strong females.

    Honestly, the other current female leads pale in comparison. Maybe it’s because LM keeps casting these young womens, in their early twenties. I’m all for giving them screen time and allowing them to try out new bits, but if you watch the scenes that Nasim Pedrad, Casey Wilson, Michaela Watkins and others would star in, they were practically begging for laughs. I say this not b/c I don’t like them, if anything, I honestly think it might be that the writers may not be giving them enough creative room, but when they strike out week after week, it makes sense that they might not be that generous. I was extremely disappointed when Michaela Watkins, Casey Wilson and Jenny Slate were canned, b/c they were hardly given enough time to shine. None of them are worse than the likes of Bobby Moynahan, who was given plenty of opportunities to find his niche.

    I miss the old days of SNL, where the strong women ruled the day, and I have high hopes at the beginning of every season, but Lorne needs to get his shit together, or once Kristen leaves (which will probably be soon), the show will have no backbone.

  • Steve

    Kristen Wiig must die. Ive been watching SNL since it came on the air and I now dvr it just so I can skip past every Kristen Wiig skit. Unfortunately, that means skipping past every skit on SNL. In the past year, I can count on one hand how skits she has not been in. NBC should change the name of the show from Saturday Night Live to the Kristen Wiig Show. Then they could have a separate show called Saturday Night Live.

  • joe

    sorry you don’t like the seven original characters you listed chad. what are they seven original characters you’ve created? they are probably a lot better. would love to hear about them.

  • Rick Johnson

    Chad, no offense but you should stick to editing Baylor’s student newspaper. Kristen Wiig is a bona fide star. There’s a reason why she’s getting paid seven figures to do movies now.

  • Kristenwiigsucks

    Amen to everything above. She is horrible, horrible, horrible, and steals the spotlight from everybody else. It’s painful to watch her.

  • Anonymous

    YEP agree with everything here and it has not gotten any better…

  • Bern6309

    She’s great.   very funny, a delightful change.

  • jeff loggens

    How true. The past season without Wiig was the best season since Will Ferrell left (Go Figure). And everyone seems to have LUVVED wiig on that show, probably because that meant no one had to do any writing. In case you haven’t noticed, the writing has been an issue for the past ten years.

    Still, Wiig was really good in Paul and Bridesmaids, so I’m fine with her just as long as she stays off SNL forever.

    Spoke too soon, obviously (lifts eyebrows repeatedly).