Saturday Night Live Downplays Sexual Misconduct in the Workplace

The Try Guys’ scandal has taken the internet by storm over the past month. After parody sketch superpower Saturday Night Live asks why people care so much, the Internet responds in full force.

On Sept. 27, internet celebrities known as the Try Guys announced that Ned Fulmer, one of the four Try Guys and co-founder of 2nd Try LLC, would no longer be working with the company.

Ned Fulmer departed from the Try Guys as a result of infidelity in the workplace. Due to the popularity of the Try Guys, this announcement was soon all over the internet.

The Try Guys began their journey as BuzzFeed stars eight years ago, building their brand as a group of four guys trying out weird or new experiences, ranging from trying on women’s underwear to challenging a world-class poker player. Their final video on BuzzFeed, “Try Guys Race Dog Sleds,” was released on Feb. 18, 2018. After a short hiatus, on June 16, 2018, they created their own YouTube channel and founded their own company to better manage and control their creative output. 

Over time, their fame reached great heights. They published a #1 New York Times Bestseller, went on tour as “Legends of the Internet” and published a documentary about themselves. Their Food Network show, “No Recipe Road Trip,” was mid-season when their announcement about Ned leaving went public. 

Fulmer had established his long-time brand as “the wife guy,” and Try Guys fans witnessed the Fulmer family grow over the years in real-time. He and his wife also released content together, including the series “Try DIY” and their “Date Night Cookbook.”

On Oct. 3, the remaining Try Guys, Zach Kornfeld, Keith Habersburger and Eugene Lee Yang released a video addressing the situation, titled “what happened.” The video gained traction  on the internet, gaining over 11 million views and 900,000 likes.

The Try Guys scandal reached shocking levels of fame in a short time frame. Memes raced across social media at Fulmer’s expense, mocking his apology post for dancing around the word “affair.” Popular news outlets such as the LA Times, New York Times and Rolling Stone published articles addressing the situation. 

To top it all off, on Oct. 8, NBC’s parody sketch show Saturday Night Live (SNL) released a skit about the Try Guys’ response to the situation.

The skit presents the Try Guys as unreasonable, firing their friend for a “consensual kiss” and attempting to grab the attention of the masses from more important issues such as the Ukrainian War.

SNL asks the question of why everyone cares so much about the Try Guys. As the skit puts it, “Jay-Z cheated on Beyoncé.” Other celebrities famous for loving their wives, such as Adam Levine and John Mulaney, have cheated on their spouses. 

The answer boils down to what SNL sarcastically explains: “You have to remember the power dynamics … He is a Try Guy, and she is a Food Baby.”

While this statement was clearly made in jest, it points out a key aspect of the affair. The “Food Babies” is a spinoff show on the Try Guys YouTube channel, featuring YB Chang and Alexandria Herring. The woman in question is Alexandria Herring, who Fulmer had an affair with. 

In other words, Fulmer had an affair with his employee.

SNL also blatantly misreported certain facts about the situation. They claim that all of this is over “a consensual kiss,” implying that this was a short-term affair, while in reality it “had been going on for some time.” 

2nd Try LLC is more than just the Try Guys YouTube channel; it’s a company with bosses and employees. Fulmer’s affair, though allegedly consensual, was a case of severe workplace misconduct due to the inherent power dynamic. Though Fulmer emphasizes the consensuality of the relationship, it’s impossible to know exactly what transpired. 

SNL may want its audience to laugh off this discrepancy with the use of titles like “Try Guy” and “Food Baby,” but the power differential between employer and employee still stands. 

The internet has taken a firm stand beside the Try Guys in the matter, shaming SNL for their tone-deaf read of the situation. The top comment on the sketch reads, “shoutout to whoever wrote the sketch for misunderstanding the entire situation” and boasts 20,000 likes. 

Additionally, the skit implies that the Try Guys felt betrayed because they didn’t know about the affair. Eventually, they realized that Fulmer’s actions jeopardized the entire company. A potential sexual misconduct lawsuit could have sunk their small business, and as content producers entirely dependent on their audience for profit and relevance, any harm to their brand could severely cripple their livelihoods. 

Critics of the SNL skit don’t hesitate to point out that SNL has been battling sexual misconduct allegations of its own. According to CNN, as recently as Aug. 25, SNL alum Horatio Sanz faced accusations of grooming and advances on underage women.

Allegations go beyond just one alum, however. Jane Doe, a victim of Sanz’s sexual aggression, charges several Saturday Night Live superstars, such as Jimmy Fallon and Tracy Morgan, as witnesses and accomplices of the blatant, nonconsensual sexual assault she experienced at SNL’s famous afterparties. 

Her accusations detail a history of SNL covering up sexual assault incidents and excusing a misogynistic culture. Jane Curtin, Julia Sweeney, Janeane Garofalo, Nora Dunn, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Anne Beatts, and Ana Gasteyer all commented on their negative experiences when working with the cast of SNL.

The impacts of such sexual mistreatment can be severe. BBC reports that the psychological impacts on women who have been sexually abused in the workplace can range from anxiety and depression, to stress about job loss or retaliation from their abuser if they report the harassment. 

Accountability for, and acknowledgment of sexual crimes is essential. A study by Haley Clark, published in the FAMILY MATTERS journal, finds that many sexual assault survivors turn to the courts, not for justice or retaliation, but rather to have someone acknowledge the depth of the pain they experienced. 

In recent years, awareness for the victims of sexual violence has skyrocketed, largely in part to the #MeToo movement, which urged survivors of such crimes to speak up about their suffering as a part of a collective, displaying just how big of a problem sexual violence had become.

The SNL skit, as well as the Try Guys’ response to this situation, illuminates an important factor of the modern internet: people can be held accountable. BuzzFeed reports on widespread responses to the situation: they praise the Try Guys for holding their friend accountable, and they admonish SNL for letting Fulmer, the one responsible for the situation, escape criticism.

Accountability is the cornerstone of this whole case; SNL faces backlash for siding with silence, and the Try Guys (minus Fulmer) earn respect by acknowledging the pain that comes with sexual misconduct and responding accordingly.

Image Courtesy of Donald Tong

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