TIME Television

SNL: Watch Jim Carrey Dance to Sia and Impersonate Matthew McConaughey

Three highlights from the Oct. 26 episode of Saturday Night Live, featuring musical guest Iggy Azalea

After one of its least-watched episodes ever, alumnus Bill Hader’s hosting gig on Oct. 11, Saturday Night Live brought out the big guns again this weekend, with veteran host Jim Carrey and earworm-of-the-summer victor Iggy Azalea, who took a “Fancy” victory lap by performing her brand-new single “Beg for It.”

Below are three highlights from Carrey’s hosting gig:

“Halloween Party”: After Carry and Kate McKinnon’s characters both show up to an office Halloween party dressed as Maddie Ziegler from Sia’s mesmerizing “Chandelier” video, they decide to settle their costume contest rivalry with — what else? — a dance-off. The two then proceed to run, slide and gyrate all over the set in an epic reenactment of the video’s eccentric choreography, even letting Iggy Azalea in on the fun at one point.

“Lincoln Ads”: Time has never been a flatter circle than in this fake car commercial, which utilizes Carrey’s well-known skill as a mimic for an eerily accurate Matthew McConaughey impression that’s half pep-talk persona, half True Detective philosophical monologue. Choice quote: “Sometimes you gotta go back to actually move forward. And I don’t mean go back and reminisce or chase ghosts. I mean, take a big step back. Like go from winning an Oscar to doing a car commercial.”

“Carrey Family Reunion”: All the trademarks of Carrey’s comedic acting get roasted in this sketch, which finds the actor reuniting with some of his most iconic roles–the Riddler, the Mask, the Cable Guy, Ace Ventura–as well as with Dumb and Dumber co-star Jeff Daniels. (The two are back together again in Dumb and Dumber To, which hits theaters next month.)

TIME Television

Transparent Creator Jill Soloway on Making the World Safer for Trans People

Comedian and TV Writer Jill Soloway attends LGBTQ TV on October 11, 2014 in New York City.
Comedian and TV Writer Jill Soloway attends LGBTQ TV on October 11, 2014 in New York City. Anna Webber—Getty Images for The New Yorker

The 'Six Feet Under' and 'United States of Tara' vet explains how her Amazon instant hit was inspired by her family

This post originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

One day three years ago, writer-director Jill Soloway got a phone call with some life-changing news: Her father was coming out as a transgender woman. “It was a total surprise,” she says. But as the elder Soloway, now a retired psychiatrist in her late 70s, explained the transition over the phone, “I reacted like a parent myself,” says Jill. “I tried to make sure that the person knows that they’re safe and unconditionally loved.” (To avoid confusion, Jill uses gender-neutral terms like “parent” and “they.”)

The experience became the basis for Transparent, an Amazon Instant series and one of the fall’s best new TV shows. It tells the story of the Pfeffermans, whose patriarch (Jeffrey Tambor) goes from Papa Mort to “Moppa” Maura. The cast also features Gaby Hoffman as Maura’s daughter Ali, Amy Landecker as daughter Sarah, Jay Duplass as son Josh and Judith Light as ex-wife Shelly. Portlandia’s Carrie Brownstein plays Ali’s friend, Syd, and The Office’s Melora Hardin is almost unrecognizable as Sarah’s lover, Tammy. Ultimately, it’s a family drama with a singular purpose: “I wanted to make something that would make the world safer for my parent,” says Soloway.

The prolific Soloway – who has producer credits on Grey’s Anatomy and United States of Tara and won a directing award at Sundance last year for her film Afternoon Delight – had wanted to make a “family show” since her two-year stint writing for Six Feet Under ended nine years ago. “Pretty shortly after they came out,” she says, referring to her parent, “I was thinking, ‘I’ve got a TV show now.’ It just immediately hit me as this is the show I’ve been waiting my whole life to write.”

The show’s first season premiered in its entirety on Soloway’s birthday and, even though critics were buzzing favorably about the show, she recalls being in a fugue state. As she tells Rolling Stone about all the ways making Transparent had been positive for her and her family, it seems as though the feeling of being stunned has transformed into happiness. “It’s exciting to know that it resonates so much with people,” she says. “But it’s definitely a new feeling.”

How long have you had the idea for the show?
Ever since I was working on Six Feet Under, I had an idea of doing a family show. And then the trans aspect made itself clear to me when my own parent came out as trans.

My sister worked on the show — she wrote the seventh episode ["The Symbolic Exemplar"]. She’s kind of, like, my other half. But when I imagined this show, there was always a brother. I actually think Ali and Josh are more like my sister and I are. In some ways my sister and I are like Sarah and Ali, and in some ways we’re like Josh and Ally. But in imagining the family, there were always three kids.

MORE: Jeffrey Tambor on His ‘Transparent’ Transformation

Who are you most like in the family?
I feel like I’m a lot like Josh. I really relate to the feeling of falling in love 10 times a day and wishing I could never stop falling in love. And then there are parts of me in Ali and parts of my sister in Ali. Faith is the person who would be living on her Price Is Right money for a few years, and I’m more of a Silver Lake mom, so in some ways I’m more like Sarah. And my sister Faith is gay, so in some ways she’s more like Sarah. So I think autobiographical stuff is all thrown in a blender and mixed around and evenly distributed amongst all three kids.

How much of the show is autobiographical?
I would say it’s almost 98 percent fictionalized. The Pfeffermans are just very real people. The reason I wanted to cast Jeffrey is because he’s always reminded me of my parent. They really have a very similar sense of humor and that was just immediate. Other than that, it’s not really autobiographical.

My mom had a husband who had frontal temporal dementia, who couldn’t speak, similar to the story of Shelly and Ed. He passed away a few years ago, the same summer that my parent was coming out. So I’d say that stuff is all informed by what was going on in my life at the time. A lot of things that I was experiencing and saying to myself, this feels like a TV show and thinking, “Good thing I have a TV show that I’m writing so that I can process all this stuff.”

Something to help you work through it.
I was really working through it. I felt kind of lucky actually.

What I like about Ali is she seems like a character you could do almost anything with. Is that why you chose Gaby Hoffman?
I saw her in an episode of Louie, and I just loved the way she was talking the whole time and he’s trying to get a word in edgewise and he lets her break up with him. I just loved the way words rolled off her tongue and nothing seemed written. I loved how free she was. I was just like who is this really cool, Jewish lady? And she’s not even Jewish.

MORE: The Best TV of 2014 So Far

You might say the opposite of Judith Light.
With her, I knew that even though America knew her as the Who’s the Boss blonde person and even as the character that I remembered her from on One Life to Live. She’s been playing these Jewish moms on Broadway and that she, herself, was Jewish. When I started to imagine her without blonde hair, I was able to see Shelly in her.

When I was casting her, [actor-filmmaker] Josh Radnor called me to say, “I just hope you realize she’s a magical being. She has spiritual power and can understand people’s emotional lives in an instant.” I was down for that. On one of the early days of the shoot, a bee stung on the top of my head when we were in the park – filming the push-up scene – and then later that afternoon I was shooting a scene with Judith, and she was doing Reiki healing on me and fixed the pain. That and the Vicodin fixed it.

How did you connect with Carrie Brownstein?
Originally, when we were trying to cast Tammy, her name came up. But I always felt Tammy was really tan and blonde, like Lady Diana or someone who spent some time in her childhood on a ranch. And Carrie just seemed too Jewy to play Tammy, but I really, really wanted to work with her, so in the writers’ room we created this character of Syd for her.

You’ve said you really wanted the show to be five people who were equally lovable as well as unlikable. Is that a hard balance to strike?
I’m always going for truth and honesty. I’m a fan of Louis C.K., I’m a fan of Lena Dunham. I love shows about people that other people would consider unlikable, or like the work of Woody Allen and Albert Brooks. I love a kind of shambling outsider protagonist who always feels like they’re “other.” And so the challenge was to make five of those people in the family instead of just one. I’ve written scripts before about a single odd outsider and someone who’s trying to make sense of the world. I like that idea that all five of these people would be connected over their common legacy of feeling different, feeling on the outside.

MORE: In Pics: 8 TV Shows You Should Be Watching Right Now

What does your parent think of the show?
They love it. All four of us in our family – my sister, my mother and my, I guess you could use the word “moppa” – were all just kind of standing back and watching this thing that feels a bit like a tribute to our family but mostly like something else entirely, something so much bigger than us. We’re just all watching it together and checking in with each other every day. “How are you doing? And what do you think?”

There’s this zeitgeisty moment in the trans community, and this show happened to land in the right place, by accident really. It’s probably a show that couldn’t have been made five years ago, and five years from now [it] wouldn’t have that same feeling of “Holy shit, we’ve never seen this before.” It’s kind of fun actually to be all experiencing this together.

How much work did you need to do with Jeffrey to create Maura?
I keep saying this weird feeling that Maura Pfefferman existed out in the universe, this whole family did. She was waiting for me to notice her and waiting for me to go get Jeffrey so she could appear through him. Somebody said in an email I was sent that Maura felt spiritual to them. I was feeling that a lot when I was talking to our hair and wardrobe people about her costumes and her hair — that she should be a California hippie, kind of a Wiccan, two spirits, high priestess. It all felt so organic.

Early Maura was a little bit more awkward, who hadn’t felt her sense of style…that had one sort of feeling. And I think in the fourth episode when Davina helps her use her own hair on top and use her silver extensions underneath, she really transforms into somebody else. Even the hair and makeup people said that Jeffrey was a certain level of comfort.

I never felt like I was working with Jeffrey to “do” her, I just felt like I was trying to stand back and let her come through.

Do you have ideas for Season Two?
A little bit. I’m starting to see the beginnings of what the characters would do in a second season. But I love the writers’ room process so much. I think more of what I’m going to be doing is trying to stop coming up with too much of it so we can all do it together when we all get back together.

Your parent must be very proud of you.
Yeah, they are. They came to the set on Jeffrey’s 70th birthday actually. It was a really special day. We gave Jeffrey a big cake. And they came to the premiere as well. It was really cool.

MORE: 10 Great TV Shows You’ve Never Heard Of

TIME Television

Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti to Headline Showtime’s Billions

The show is set to begin production early next year

Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti will star in the pilot for the new Showtime series “Billions,” Variety reported Friday.

Lewis, who spent three seasons on the Showtime series Homeland, a role for which he won an Emmy in 2013, will play a New York hedge fund manager, and Giamatti will play his rival in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Divergent director Neil Burger will direct and Ocean’s Thirteen screenwriters Brian Koppelman and David Levien have teamed up with New York Times business reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin to write.

The show is set to begin production early next year.

[Variety]

TIME Media

In Cable Ebola Coverage, It’s the Story vs. the Facts

Israeli-US actor and musician, member of the band Kiss, Gene Simmons poses during a photocall for the TV serie "Gene Simmons" as part of the MIPCOM, on Oct. 14, 2014 in Cannes, southeastern France.
Israeli-US actor and musician, member of the band Kiss, Gene Simmons poses during a photocall for the TV serie "Gene Simmons" as part of the MIPCOM, on Oct. 14, 2014 in Cannes, southeastern France. Valery Hache—AFP/Getty Images

As the disease comes to New York City, 24-hour news wavers between science and sensationalism. But what does Gene Simmons think?

The guest on Friday’s Fox News’s panel show Outnumbered gave a damning assessment of the government’s response to Ebola, after a Manhattan doctor who had recently returned from West Africa was diagnosed with Ebola Thursday night. “In point of fact, we are completely unprepared for things like this,” the guest said. “We can’t even take the simple precaution of not letting anybody from a certain part of Africa come into America before you pass a health test. The fact that this doctor and this nurse [in Dallas] were just allowed to run around… is lunacy.”

The guest was Gene Simmons. As in Gene Simmons from the face-painted ’70s rock band KISS.

Now, I don’t mean to imply that Simmons lacks the medical authority to talk about Ebola policy. He did, after all, write “Calling Dr. Love.” He’s practically a diagnostic professional! But that comment summed up where a story like Ebola is eventually bound to go once cable news has had enough time with it.

In any breaking news incident, you have the facts and then you have the story. The facts are what happened. The story is why you care–the details, quotes, opinions and fears that make the facts juicy. In cable news, the story generally wins.

So Thursday night, the facts were: Someone in New York City had Ebola. Dr. Craig Spencer, who had been volunteering with Doctors Without Borders treating patients in Guinea, had come back to Manhattan. He’d followed the accepted guidelines for self-monitoring, checking his temperature twice daily, and watching, per the medical organization’s guidelines, for “relevant symptoms including fever.” When he detected a fever that morning–before which, he would not have been infectious–he went to the hospital.

But then there’s the story! The story was that the day before Spencer went to the hospital, he went bowling! He rode in an Uber vehicle! He went jogging and ate at a restaurant and walked in a park. He rode the subway–the crowded subway! None of this, according to medical science on Ebola, presented a danger from a nonsymptomatic person. But it felt wrong in people’s guts. And that makes a better story.

Thursday and Friday’s cable coverage showed plainly this struggle between story and facts. At times, the dichotomy was present in the words and images of the same report. Friday morning on CNN, the top-of-the-hour news noted that Spencer was not contagious, according to authorities, when he went out Wednesday–but only after it ran down the subway-taxi-bowling story and said the city was “on edge.” Anchor John Berman interviewed experts including Daniel Bausch of the Department of US Medical Naval Research, who said “it looks like everything was done right” in the Spencer case. The on-screen graphic: “EBOLA IN NEW YORK: REASON TO WORRY?”

The coverage, like so many stories, has also become an extension of partisan politics. There are midterms coming up: Republicans are invested in a crisis-of-confidence narrative while the Democrats must convey an everything’s-under-control narrative. So on Fox, Sean Hannity was hammering the government for being unprepared, and seemingly every host was hitting the refrain that Spencer was “fatigued” when he went out Wednesday. MSNBC, on the other hand, emphasized the low risk this case posed to New Yorkers along with the generally positive response to New York’s public-health response to date.

As for CNN under Jeff Zucker, it is biased as always toward the juicier story. In a noontime report, correspondent Jean Casarez noted that an NYPD team had photographed some trash outside Spencer’s apartment, and then left. “So it’s still sitting out there right now?” Banfield asked, adding that she’d seen police throwing latex gloves into street trash. Had the gloves been anywhere near any dangerous fluids? Is any of that trash an actual risk? Who knows? There was no further information. But the detail sounded spooky, so the report just left it sitting there, like the recycling bags on the curb.

By midday Friday, the general tone of coverage shifted to one that was less anxious, partly because better news had broken: Dallas nurse Nina Pham was declared Ebola-free in her recovery, and Spencer, it turned out, had not had the 103 degree fever first reported Thursday night, but a much lower 100.3-degree fever–undercutting the insinuations that he might have been sicker on Wednesday. Then too, there seemed to be a growing awareness that Spencer had, after all, contracted the disease by risking his life to help others, and it was maybe unseemly to present him as some kind of arrogant bowling menace.

For now, the news fever seemed under control. But it was a reminder all the same. Ebola may only be spread through contact with infected bodily fluids. Fear and anxiety are much more easily transmitted, through the air.

TIME Television

TLC Cancels Honey Boo Boo Amid Allegations of Co-Star’s Relationship

Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson, June Shannon
Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson speaks during an interview as her mother, June Shannon, looks on in her home in McIntyre, Ga. on Oct. 24, 2014. John Bazemore—AP

The Toddlers and Tiaras spinoff got the axe after allegations emerged that Mama June is dating a child molester

The TV network TLC has canceled the reality series Here Comes Honey Boo Boo over allegations that co-star “Mama June” Shannon resumed a romantic relationship with a convicted child molester.

“TLC has canceled the series Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and ended all activities around the series, effective immediately,” TLC said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. “Supporting the health and welfare of these remarkable children is our only priority. TLC is faithfully committed to the children’s ongoing comfort and well-being.”

Reports emerged earlier this week that Mama June Shannon had reignited a relationship with Mark McDaniel, recently released from prison after serving time for aggravated child molestation of an 8-year-old. Shannon’s family denied the report.

The two-year old Toddlers & Tiaras spinoff reached more than three million viewers at its height.

[EW]

TIME Music

Watch Taylor Swift Perform ‘Out of the Woods’ on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Swift says releasing the album is like sending it off to college

Taylor Swift visited Jimmy Kimmel Live! last night to promote her fifth album, 1989, which releases on Oct. 27. She shut down Hollywood Boulevard and took the stage to perform “Out of the Woods” (for the first time!) and “Shake It Off” in front of 15,000 screaming fans.

“I’m more confident about this album than I’ve been about any of the other ones, which is a really nice feeling,” Swift told Kimmel. “But it’s almost like you’re releasing this thing into the world that you spent two years with, and it’s just been mine for two years and now it’s everybody else’s. You know, sending it off to college.”

Swift has no need to worry: she’s gotten a pretty warm reception so far. Kimmel embarrassed the pop star by reading TIME’s review of the new album, as well as those from other publications, on air.

TIME Television

Fox Is Developing an Archie TV Series

The Riverdale gang is heading to the small screen

Fox is heading to Riverdale. Archie Comics confirmed Thursday that the cable channel is developing a one-hour drama series based on the beloved comic characters.

The series will follow comic favorites Archie Andrews, Jughead Jones, Veronica Lodge, Betty Cooper and Reggie Mantle, along with a newer addition to the Riverdale world: Kevin Keller, a gay character who was introduced in 2010. THR adds that the gang will “explore the surrealistic twists of small-town life, in addition to the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath [their hometown] Riverdale’s wholesome facade.”

The series, which is being produced by Warner Bros. TV-based Berlanti Productions and The Arrow‘s Greg Berlanti, will be penned by former Glee scribe and current chief creative officer at Archie Comics Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

“This is something we’ve been working on for awhile now, figuring out the best way to bring these characters to life for what will be, essentially, the first time,” Aguirre-Sacasa said in a statement. “The entire team working on Riverdale is as passionate about Archie as Jon [Goldwater, Archie Comics publisher/co-CEO] and I are, so it feels like the stars have finally aligned for Archie and the rest of the gang.”

It seems as though the in-the-works TV series is just the latest in a string of moves keeping the Archie universe current; earlier this year, Aguirre-Sacasa tapped Lena Dunham to write her own Archie storyline for the comic.

TIME Television

Why We Need to Celebrate the Many Great Women of SNL

Nell Scovell is writing the 'Lean In' movie for Sony Pictures, based on the book she co-wrote with Sheryl Sandberg.

As Tina Fey noted, Jan Hooks deserved a "bigger career"—and she was among many SNL greats who should be household names

On Monday evening, Tina Fey dedicated her Elle Women in Hollywood award to “sweet Jan Hooks,” who had died two weeks earlier, at the age of 57. “It made me sad when she passed, and it made me mad at the time how available she was,” Fey said of hiring Hooks to play Jenna Maroney’s mother on 30 Rock. “Jan should have had a bigger career. Jan deserved a big movie career.”

The Saturday Night Live clips media used to celebrate Hooks were both hilarious and touching. They were also 20 years old. Hooks left the show after five seasons (1986-91), then went on to star on Designing Women and later landed a recurring role on Third Rock From the Sun. But by 2000, at the age of 43, this remarkably versatile actress was booking mostly voice-over and guest-star spots.

Very few women from SNL have gone on to “a big movie career.” Of course, Fey did, along with Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig. And in TV, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is in a class all her own, with 18 Emmy nominations and five wins for three different roles. Still, their success stories are the exceptions to Hooks’ rule.

This is partially a numbers game. In SNL’s 40-year history, male performers have outnumbered females almost 2 to 1 (83 men to 45 women—make that 46 after this week’s promotion of writer Leslie Jones). Not only have more men been hired, but they also stayed longer. A list of cast members who spent eight seasons or more on the show includes 14 men and only two women.

The cast didn’t begin so off-kilter. For its first six seasons, SNL averaged four men and three women. The men got more screen time, but there was an attempt to keep the genders close to equal. By the late 1980s, that effort had been abandoned. The number of male performers began to balloon until the 1990–91 season, which included 13 men and still only three women. As Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler might say: Really?!?

This lopsided pattern held for a decade. Even during the Fey-Poehler heyday, women held four to five slots while men grabbed nine to 11. The current season’s main cast is the first in 35 years to be split 50-50. That’s great news—if you consider going back to the way things were in 1979 to be great news. Still, five of the seven featured players are men. Since future cast members tend to be promoted from the ranks, the balance may once again tip male. It also took an Internet uproar to pressure the show into hiring an African-American woman. And good thing they did because Sasheer Zamata has been a highlight.

Recently, Sarah Silverman returned to host and poked fun at her younger self posing as a curious audience member. It was a good reminder of how many insanely talented female performers lasted only a single season—or in Laurie Metcalf’s case, a single episode. Jenny Slate, Janeane Garofalo, Michaela Watkins, Christine Ebersole and many other one-year wonders have gone on to success, making SNL just a footnote in their careers.

But a lot of other women fall into the same category as Hooks, who excelled on SNL but fell short of “a bigger career.” So instead of waiting for these gifted women to be praised posthumously, let’s celebrate some former SNL cast members right here, right now. Each spent more than a season on the show, and while they continue to work, we’d like to see more of them.

 

MOLLY SHANNON

Saturday Night Live
Molly Shannon as Jeannie Darcy during Weekend Update on May 12, 2007. Dana Edelson—NBC/Getty Images

It’s hard to accept that Sally O’Malley is actually 50 (50!) years old. During her seven-season tenure, Molly Shannon could kick and stretch and disappear into any character. Since departing in 2001, she has worked steadily but hasn’t yet achieved the superstar status that Mary Katherine Gallagher deserves.

Castmate who went on to a more visible career: David Spade

 

ANA GASTEYER

Saturday Night Live
Ana Gasteyer as Martha Stewart during the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia skit on Oct. 23, 1999. Mary Ellen Matthews—NBC/Getty Images

Ana Gasteyer’s range is remarkable. In her six seasons, she could be a loud Barbra Streisand auditioning for Star Wars or a quiet NPR correspondent who craved Alec Baldwin’s Schweddy Balls. Since leaving in 2002, she has starred as Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway and created memorable roles in both comedy and drama series. With all that talent, she can clearly handle meatier roles than Mrs. Gundermutt in Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.

Castmate who went on to a more visible career: Tracy Morgan

 

JULIA SWEENEY

Saturday Night Live
Tom Hanks as Rick and Julia Sweeney as Katie during the She Turned Into Her Mother skit on May 9, 2010. Alan Singer—NBC/Getty Images

If you were lucky enough to see Julia Sweeney’s show God Said ‘Ha!’, you know how deeply compelling she is as both a writer and performer. Her work on four seasons of SNL was fearless. Pat was way ahead of his or her time. They’re remaking Ghostbusters; maybe it’s time for It’s Pat 2: It Gets Pattier.

Castmate who went on to a more visible career: Rob Schneider

 

RACHEL DRATCH

Saturday Night Live
Rachel Dratch as Peg during the Elderly Wiretap skit on Jan. 21, 2006. Dana Edelson—NBC/Getty Images

Everyone loves Rachel Dratch, especially her fellow performers. In skits like Debbie Downer or the old hot-tubber luv-ahs (with Will Farrell), you can see her cause seasoned castmates to break into laughter. Since wrapping up a seven-year run in 2006, she’s written a book, performed in a musical, guested on sitcoms and failed to name 20 white people in 30 seconds while Billy Eichner yelled at her. She also voices a character for The Awesomes and is currently starring in Tail! Spin!, an off-Broadway comedy.

Castmate who went on to a more visible career: Will Forte

 

MAYA RUDOLPH

Saturday Night Live
Maya Rudolph as Barbra Streisand during the Donahue skit on Nov. 16, 2002. Dana Edelson—NBC/Getty Images

Maya Rudolph might not belong on this list. Her movie career includes classic performances in Bridesmaids and The Way Way Back. She was nominated for an Emmy for hosting SNL in 2012 and, last spring, she tried to revive the classic variety format with The Maya Rudolph Show. It seems like she’s still looking for the right venue for her enormous talents. Late Night With Maya Rudolph would’ve had a nice ring to it …

Castmate who went on to a more visible career: Jimmy Fallon

 

NORA DUNN

Nora Dunn
From left: Nora Dunn as Liz Sweeney, Jan Hooks as Candy Sweeney and Marc Shaiman as Skip St. Thomas during the Instant Coffee skit on Oct. 18, 1986. NBC/Getty Images

Like her Sweeney sister Jan Hooks, Nora Dunn has never found a place to shine as brightly as she did in Studio 8H. Maybe she comes across as a tad strong, but that never hurt SNL’s Jim Belushi, who got to make 182 episodes of According to Jim. (Oh, yes, that happened.) Someone needs to give Dunn a role that suits both her comic and commanding nature: a Starfleet commander or Red’s sister on Orange Is the New Black…

Castmate who went on to a more visible career: Anthony Michael Hall

 

ABBY ELLIOTT

Abby Elliott
Abby Elliott as Rachel Maddow during The Rachel Maddow Show skit on Jan. 10, 2009. NBC/Getty Images

Abby Elliott was 21 when she joined the cast midway through the 2008–09 season. It was scientifically proven that she was underutilized and, after four seasons, she moved on to prime time. Here’s hoping she gets lots more opportunities.

Castmate who went on to a more visible career: Fred Armisen

 

LARAINE NEWMAN

Laraine Newman
From left: Jane Curtin as Prymaat Conehead, Dan Aykroyd as Beldar Conehead and Laraine Newman as Connie Conehead during the The Coneheads at Home skit on Jan. 15, 1977. NBC/Getty Images

One of the original “seven samurai,” Laraine Newman was a mysterious and nuanced performer. Her strength was sketch comedy, and her post-SNL credits have veered toward voice work. “Lorne urged me to repeat characters. I refused to do it because I wanted to, you know, dazzle everybody with my versatility,” Newman says in James Andrew Miller’s book Live From New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live. “So even though I loved the kind of work I did, and still do—I love the character work—I think it keeps you more anonymous than people who play themselves.”

Castmate who went on to a more visible career: Chevy Chase

 

JANE CURTIN

Jane Curtin
From left: Burt Reynolds as Lewis and Jane Curtin as Anita Bryant during the Deliverance II sketch on April 12, 1980. NBC/Getty Images

This time it’s personal. I was 14 when SNL premiered, and all my friends assumed I would identify with Gilda Radner, the original manic pixie dream girl. Nope. Jane Curtin was my favorite. I thought she was perfect: beautiful, tough, silly and real. Even as a conehead, she came across as grounded.

Curtin’s post-SNL career has been enviable. Kate & Allie was a massive hit. Third Rock From the Sun was a massive hit. But since that inspired sitcom ended in 2001, her TV appearances have grown sparser. In the past three years, she has appeared on the recently canceled CBS drama Unforgettable. Perhaps Curtin is working as much as she wants to, but selfishly I want to see her do more. I want to see her in the same quirky roles that Bill Murray gets. Imagine Curtin as an aging movie star in Japan who bumps into a young man at the hotel bar and they connect in an unclear and unsettling way. Or imagine Curtin as an eccentric oceanographer.

At the very least, I want Curtin to know that she’s appreciated and admired. And for all the female SNL vets, I hope the people in power—producers, directors, agents and managers—have a fire lit under them now before we are forced to light a candle later.

Note: This is not a complete list. Please add your favorite performers in the comments so we can applaud them all.

Scovell is writing the Lean In movie for Sony Pictures, based on the book she co-wrote with Sheryl Sandberg

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Television

Aaron Paul’s Response to Toys ‘R’ Us Breaking Bad Controversy Is Perfect

Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) - Breaking Bad _Season 5 - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC
Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) in Breaking Bad Frank Ockenfels/AMC

The actor says Barbies are more damaging to kids than meth-dealing dolls

Under pressure from angry parents, Toys “R” Us pulled Breaking Bad figures from their shelves Wednesday. But Aaron Paul, who played Jesse Pinkman on the show, was perturbed by the concession, tweeting out:

Though the Breaking Bad toys were sold in the adult-action-figure area of Toys “R” Us stores, parents said that the figures were “a dangerous deviation from [Toys R Us's] family friendly values.” After all, Breaking Bad does follow a teacher and his former student as they try to cook and sell meth, and the dolls come with detachable bags of drugs and cash. A campaign on Change.org to ban the toys that had over 9,000 signatures as of Thursday evening.

But Paul makes a legitimate argument—at least about the potentially damaging effects of Barbie dolls: A recent study published in The Journal of Sex Roles found that girls who played with a buxom Barbie dressed up as a doctor thought they had fewer career choices than those who played with an amorphous Mrs. Potato Head doll.

No word yet on how playing with a Jesse Pinkman toy affects major life choices.

Paul isn’t the only Breaking Bad star to weigh in on the conflict. Last week, Bryan Cranston, tweeted about the toys, too:

Tough break for Breaking Bad. But what did they expect? Walt and Jesse always did have trouble moving product.

Read next: Breaking Bad Action Figures? Really, Toys R Us?

TIME Culture

‘Law & Order: SVU’ Ripped an Episode From My Headline

Belle Knox
Courtesy of Belle Knox

I don’t write or discuss my rape often, because I don’t want to be viewed as a porn star cliché

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

I’m obsessed with “Law & Order: SVU.” But that obsession is reaching a whole new level of absurdity.

You know that whole “ripped from the headlines” tagline? They just ripped mine, and it’s incredibly hard — but insanely riveting — to watch.

Warren Leight, the executive producer of the show was nice enough to let me see an advance copy of “Pornstar’s Requiem” and he agreed to answer my questions about how this entire episode came to be.

When I asked Leight (who used to be executive producer on HBO’s “In Treatment”) why he chose to dramatize my story, he explained, “As usual, we tried to distill several stories and headlines into one character’s journey. You, and others, have made the case that sex work is legitimate professional work, a potentially empowering choice individuals should be able to make without repercussions or stigmatization. Other students who’ve done pornography have not survived the harassment that followed. We wanted to tell their stories, too.”

From the very beginning scene of the episode, which shows “Evie Barnes” (played by actress Hannah Marks), a college freshman at “Hudson University” nervously doing her first porn scene on the day of her 18 birthday, my jaw dropped. Not only is Marks a slim brunette who could be my sister, she is also eerily semi-recreating one of my earliest scenes which was for a rough sex website (I will not give the company any more publicity than they’ve already received). The entire sequence soon after of a frat guy uncovering my secret through watching porn himself was all too real. I’ve never made so much noise watching an episode of “SVU” before as I did watching this, and there were certain instances where all I could say was “Oh my God, oh my God.”

Not unlike how I created the alterego of “Belle Knox,” Evie Barnes takes on the stage name of “Roxxxanne Demay” in the world of hard-core pornography.

She is eloquent but naïve, delivering many speeches during the episode with a few lines cutting me to the core. At one point she says something that felt like hearing my heart speak: “I knew I would be opening myself and my family to judgment and humiliation. But I chose to send a message that people who work in adult entertainment are still people, just like everyone else.”

Since March, when I was outed by a fellow student at Duke, I’ve felt like I was sleepwalking through a David Lynch-style dream that has included everything from hugging Whoopi Goldberg on “The View” to facing a crowd of screaming paparazzi and flashing lights to being asked to trademark a replica of my vagina. This episode of “SVU” flips that dream into a nightmare of how things could just as easily have gone very horribly terribly wrong for me.

I don’t write or discuss my rape often, because I don’t want to be viewed as a porn star cliché, nor do I want people telling me that this is why I’ve made the choices I’ve made, but I know well the chilling rape culture entitlement that comes along with men discovering that I’m a porn star. This is the scenario that plays out on the episode. One of the frat boys accused in “Pornstar’s Requiem” even goes so far as to say to the police the following jaw-dropping line: “I didn’t think you could rape a girl like that.”

Have I heard this before?

Not in those exact words, but in actions and in snide remarks, in the assumptions people make with my body and my livelihood because they have watched me in porn or heard that this is my profession. One time a hotel provided a key card to a friend of another man I knew, and at 2 in the morning, this large and loud, older and incredibly drunk stranger wandered into my hotel room — with his own key. I was terrified. Did he think that because I was a porn star he could just come in? Did he think he could do something with me?

Since my outing, when I’ve gone on dates, there have been times when a man has told me quickly, easily and creepily, “You like this [sexual act], right?” without asking for consent or having any discussion to imply that we might make the decision to be intimate together later on. I shut things down, but as occurred in my rape earlier in my life, this has not always been the case.

And this sexual entitlement and double standards (how could a girl who plays out a rape fantasy ever be given the privilege of consent; doesn’t she relinquish that forever if she ever engages in rough play?) is the crux of the episode. Similar to the rough scene I filmed that was my entrée into porn, Evie is smacked — hard — in the course of her filming and the appearance could be interpreted as rape fantasy. While I do not consider what I did to be that, I have heard from others that they do consider it within this purview, and I respect their right to feel that way.

Because Evie does not appear to be giving consent in her rough sex porn film, these frat boys decide that is what she likes. They don’t need her to say yes! Even when she is crying and saying no, it doesn’t count! Why, they have the other film of her as proof.

It makes me want to barf.

I won’t get into the spoilers of the episode (you should watch on NBC), but I’ll share with you what the executive producer told me about the writers’ room and the process for putting the script together.

“The writers’ room had been hashing out a number of overlapping issues lately,” Leight told me. “The increasing number of students who’ve turned to pornography to pay their tuition. How for some of those students, it’s been empowering, but for others, it’s led to horrific slut-shaming. And how a few students have been so stigmatized when their sex work becomes public, they felt driven to suicide. We also had long wanted to do an episode about how hard it is for sex workers to get justice when they are victims of sexual assault. The more we talked about these issues, the more we felt they’d combine well into one episode.”

Evie says at one point during the episode what could be the anthem of anyone who has ever done sex work: “I’m not a slut. They think just because I do porn they can do anything they want to me.”

And then she explains something that many people refuse to accept no matter how many times I try to delineate real life versus porn life. Describing her alterego of “Roxxxanne Demay,” Evie says: “I followed a script. I created a character that was different from myself. I followed an act.”

Because that’s what it is. Porn is an act. Porn stars are acting. In our personal lives we are often still sexual and flirtatious and there might be some crossover, but to categorize porn stars and sex workers as being this lesser-status breed of women who are “unrapeable” is so offensive and mind-boggling, it physically makes my head hurt.

As soon as I heard that my story was being “ripped” for an episode, my gut assured me that “SVU” would give a fair and balanced account “inspired by” what happened and have a strong feminist message against slut shaming. But soon after that, my gut turned nauseous. Happily, all of that nervous energy turned to excitement when I realized what was really happening, bottom line, through the show tackling this important topic: “SVU” was accepting the challenge of viewing consent through the lens of pornography and sex workers, a multifaceted and very necessary dialogue.

Because while Evie is brutally gangraped in a bathroom at a college party, the video evidence taken by her rapists is in no way the slam-dunk that it should be for the prosecution. Instead, it forces a question so insane, so absurd, so enraging I can barely type it without screaming.

Assistant District Attorney Rafael Barba (played by Raúl Esparza) actually has to ask, “Do you believe any woman, even a porn star, can deny sex?”

I also found myself cheering whenever Sgt. Olivia Benson (played by the inimitable Mariska Hargitay) said something profound (which was like, all the time), and covering my face when things felt too real. At several points, my cheeks burned hot with rage listening to the evil defense attorney (played by Delaney Williams) who mocks and shames and aims to discredit Evie. It is brutal. It is condescending. And it brought back painful memories of the betting pools started online as to when I would kill myself, the detailed and dedicated websites all devoted to telling the world what a slut and whore I am, and why I deserved to be punched and kicked and hit and destroyed.

Then there was Judge Briggs (played by Richard T. Jones), who says something I have heard so many times from my friends, family and peers it practically feels like my first name: “I hope going forward you find a way to respect your body and yourself.”

Yeah, thanks. I wish the same for you. I also hope you going forward you find a way to be less of a passive-aggressive sanctimonious concern troll — but you know, we can’t all have everything we want, can we?

After viewing the episode, I didn’t get much that sleep that night.

Memories of last semester came rushing back to me.

My public outing and the subsequent media storm that put every private, painful detail of my life on display seemed to play over and over in my mind. The most excruciating line from the episode was from Evie, who said, “They think just because I do porn they can do whatever they want to me.”

There is this sense of ownership of porn stars from strangers, which is, quite frankly, chilling.

I’ve found this to be exceedingly true in these past months, as strangers behind their computer screens have threatened me with rape, murder, and public humiliation. And then there are the students who have done pornography who have not lived to survive the harassment that follows, like the beautiful young woman Alyssa Funke, which is nothing short of a Shakespearean tragedy. This is a narrative that “SVU” confronts compassionately in the episode.

The episode hit close to home to say the least.

“SVU” has showed us time and time again that we should never take a character at face value, and there is so much more to a person than a tabloid headline (which in the case of this episode is: “From Straight As to XXX”) will ever reveal.

I am happy that “my” character was not portrayed as a caricature of the porn industry, but as an imperfect young woman who made some controversial choices that did not define her. Watching the episode was an emotional, at times nausea-inducing experience, and one line in particular I will never forget, as Evie tells the detectives why she will not stop doing porn. Because, she says: “At least here when I say ‘no,’ they stop.”

I asked the executive producer about what he thought about this haunting moment in particular. Leight said, “The sadness comes from Evie’s desperation, her absence of alternate options outside of porn, the confiscation of her choice. It wasn’t porn that brought her to a place of isolation and depression, but rather her sexual assault, her support system, and of course the academic system — the very one she was attempting to pay for.”

In other words, the sex industry wasn’t the problem. Society was.

Belle Knox is an adult film star and student at Duke University.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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