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Opinion: Come On, That SNL ‘Peek at Pico’ Sketch Is Hilarious

“Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog,” said author E.B. White. “You understand it better but the frog dies in the process.” And yet, here we are, debating last week’s “A Peek at Pico” sketch from the most recent episode of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” featuring Selena Gomez.

The sketch stars Gomez alongside “SNL” impressionist extraordinaire Melissa Villaseñor as two lovable Cholas who host the most popular public access talk show in Pico Rivera, a suburb of southeastern Los Angeles known for its prevalence of gang activity.

It’s already a hyperspecific premise that more or less embodies the saying, “if you know, you know.”

But even for those who don’t, “A Peek at Pico” is a wacky, exaggerated look at the two halves of Pico Rivera: the longstanding Latinx community that’s lived there for generations, and the white gentrifiers who struggle to coexist with them.

The joke here isn’t “on” anybody so much as it is about this push-and-pull between the two communities.

Yes, the sketch is trafficking in stereotypes as a vast majority of short-form comedy does, but there’s ribbing on both ends here. It’s no coincidence that the show’s only white reporter is named Chad, and their only white guest is a stereotypical librarian named Becca. It’s possible that the ideas here are getting lost in translation, especially for the large swaths of “SNL” viewers who are unaware of what Pico Rivera even is, but there’s clearly a lot of thought put into how these characters are portrayed.

The sketch not only stars two Latinas, but was written by “SNL” newcomer Ben Silva, alongside Mikey Day, “CollegeHumor” alum Streeter Seidell, and Villaseñor herself, who came up with the infamous “That’s sad!” line that’s repeated throughout the sketch, and incorporated it into what ultimately aired last weekend.

It seems odd to have to defend something so affectionate and non-judgmental towards the characters it brings to life, especially when the show’s hosts are the only people who come out relatively unscathed.

“A Peek at Pico” hosts Vanessa and Sofia are irresistibly hilarious and endearing.

Their banter is brilliant, and it ends up being one of the more hilarious sketches “SNL” has done in a while. By the end, “A Peek at Pico” achieves something fairly rare in the context of recent “SNL” episodes: it makes you want more.

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