SNL’s “Starbucks” Skit Was Funny, But Did It Have to Be Racist?

Jan 21, 2013
10:12 PM

This is why SNL frustrates us: even when they are funny, it seems that they can’t pull it off completely, that the privilege is just too engrained in its writing staff.


Case in point: the show’s “Starbucks” commercial parody from this weekend. No doubt, the idea was really funny. Generally speaking, Starbucks are notorious for mispronouncing customers’ names. And we should know, since we can’t think of the countless times we have heard our own names mispronounced. And those names have been mispronounced in Starbucks all over the country, from airports in California to drive-thrus in Ohio. But why did SNL have to go there at the end of the skit? We found ourselves going from applauding SNL’s brilliance at the beginning of the parody, to cringing at the end of it.

The Gothamist makes a good point. It just could have been better. The parody was funny on its own, it didn’t need to go there.

AdAge’s Simon Dumenco also weighed in when he wrote the following:

As one commenter wrote on Gothamist in response to a post titled “Is This SNL Skit About Starbucks Racist? (Yep),” “Having both character voices in a ‘black’ accent seems a bit of overkill. One of them couldn’t be some affected hipster chick actress douchie? It could have worked.” Or as Twitter user @pushinghoops put it, “SNLs racist Starbucks Verismo skit in line w their tradition of adding classism to racism in order to get away w laughing at latinos/blacks.”