SNL Receives Major Backlash For Insensitive ‘Try Guys’ Sketch, Own Workplace Misconduct Under Fire

in Entertainment, Television

The Try Guys What Happened Sketch Saturday Night Live SNL

Credit: NBC

Saturday Night Live (SNL) is getting some serious heat for their latest sketch making light of workplace misconduct and infidelity — and there may be more to it than meets the eye.

The Try Guys (left to right) Keith Habersberger, Ned Fulmer, Zach Kornfeld, Eugene Lee Yang
Credit: The Try Guys

Anyone who’s been on the internet in the past few weeks has no doubt come across the Try Guys scandal on their respective social media feeds, walls, pages and timelines.

As a quick primer before we get into the latest development (and for those who have no idea who The Try Guys even are), The Try Guys are a group of four (former?) friends who successfully split from the media content production juggernaut Buzzfeed that rose to prominence in the 2010s. Managing to move their “Try Guys” branding away from its birthplace, the “Guys” set up their own media company, Second Try LLC, growing significantly and producing variety content on YouTube and TV for many years to staggering success — they recently nabbed their own Food Network show. The four “Guys Who Try” were initially Eugene Lee Yang, Keith Habersberger, Zach Kornfeld, and the ex-owner and founder who everyone’s been talking about recently — Ned Fulmer.

Needless to say, the former Try Guy Ned Fulmer, as a married man with two young children, has received intense criticism for engaging in workplace misconduct with subordinate employee, Alexandria Herring (often referred to as “Alex”, pictured left in the following image), an associate producer. The employee in question worked with editor YB Chang (right) as part of the food-centric sub-group, the Food Babies within the Try Guys’ company.

The Try Guys Food Babies, Alex Alexandria Herring and YB Chang
Credit: The Try Guys

A key reason why people are upset with Fulmer is that he profited significantly off of his branding as a “white guy wife guy”, constantly proclaiming his love for wife Ariel Fulmer and bragging about his status as a “family man” on videos. Additionally, he manages a lifestyle brand centered around his relationship with Ariel Fulmer, releasing cookbooks, participating in interviews, having their relationship featured in media and even giving relationship-focused talks at universities.

Several days after the news broke, the remaining Try Guys released a statement confirming that Ned Fulmer had been released from the company after a thorough internal review. As the rumors did not entirely abate, and in light of the intense speculation, The Try Guys released the now famous video that was parodied by New York-based comedy show Saturday Night Live:

This response was lauded by nearly everyone — from traditional media outlets covering the topic like Rolling Stone, Deadline and Variety, to people on the internet and fans of the Try Guys — for their masterful response that expertly toed the fine line between corporate and genuine. In the video, Eugene Lee Yang (left) displayed a palpable amount of anger in his gaze, while Zach Kornfeld (center) appeared dejected and sad, and Keith Habersberger (right) looked disappointed and disgusted.

Just this weekend, SNL took this response (disregarding the praise from nearly all avenues on the handling of this situation) and decided to put out an insensitive sketch that instead made fun of the Try Guys for “overreacting” to a simple “cheating scandal”, glossing over the allegedly long-term workplace misconduct by classifying it as “just a consensual kiss”.

The Try Guys (left to right) Zach Kornfeld, Keith Habersberger, Eugene Lee Yang, Ned Fulmer
Credit: The Try Guys, Food Network

Chris Del Ray shared the following statement, quote tweeted the initial Try Guys SNL clip, expressing that they felt it was “pretty tasteless comedy” for “making the victims the punchline”:

Oof, rude awakening to SNL that the entire internet is on the Try Guy’s side. There were so many other ways they could have parodied this, but they went for making the victims the punchline while downplaying workplace harassment. 😬 That’s pretty tasteless comedy.

Now, several Try Guys fans and followers were also quick to add to the growing discourse with some top quality sleuthing — it seems that Ned Fulmer’s college friend is an existing SNL writer, potentially explaining why Fulmer was not called out even once during the sketch.

@bertenbenae says:

hm, so let me get this right: ned wasn’t made fun of in the skit, but the other try guys were for processing their emotions? for losing a friend of almost a decade? for potentially losing millions in profit? guess why. ned has a snl writer buddy. this man is a real piece of work.

And the criticisms keep pouring in — the number of likes on all of these tweets truly shows how much SNL has orchestrated their own PR image issue with this “tasteless” sketch, as @tgkooist shares:

that try guys skit was so tasteless…saying they were overreacting for firing ned when it is so rare for men to face the consequences of their actions in the entertainment industry #snl

@jeannesaintremy highlights the “screwed up” nature of poking fun at this sort of “power dynamic”-tinged sexual relationship, between a “company’s founder and one of its employees”:

Rather importantly, founding Try Guy Habersberger’s wife, Becky Habersberger shared the following on her Twitter timeline, referencing the Try Guys’ podcast, the TryPod and Ned Fulmer’s admittance of having a friend in SNL:

Anyone remember the Trypod episode where he talks about his Yale friend who writes for SNL…asking for a friend

@lxghtoflove replied, sharing the clip in question where Fulmer admits to the friendship, and adds that, “right now taking a job as Cast Member at SNL would be a step down career-wise for us”:

big oof

Eagle-eyed internet sleuths then appeared to have found the SNL writer in question via Instagram, like @covcy and @samanttu, who also appeared to confirm it further:

@covcy: whoop there it is

@samanttu: And he posted this to his story. Gotta be him

Fans were making even more connections, with @AlyssaKissaxx highlighting an alleged connection to Herring as well, while @myspacep4p seems to have triangulated Fulmer’s friend:

Saturday Night Live‘s very own workplace misconduct allegations got brought up in the thick of this, with many people like @randomtology using this as a chance to highlight Saturday Night Live‘s notorious history of misogyny and closing an eye to misconduct:

Anyway yeah not surprised SNL would want to make properly handling sexual workplace misconduct into a joke.

@jasforevermore added:

of course snl would make fun of people who properly handle sexual misconduct in the workplace

What about Ned Fulmer’s wife and children caught in all of this mess? @absolutelyabbyy shares her harrowing realization:

just realized ariel’s children now have an SNL skit to watch about the time their father cheated on their mother and ruined his career. used his full name and everything. i can’t decide if that’s awful or not #tryguys

@zerogasms also posted two tweets that went viral, getting frustrated at SNL for “downplaying” the issue as a “simple cheating [scandal]”, and “twisting the narrative for laughs”:

Another tweet highlighted the serious toll that this scandal is taking on the other Try Guys creators:

Overall, it truly seems that SNL has created an even bigger PR issue for themselves, by casting a spotlight on their own sexual misconduct allegations. By attempting to make fun of workplace misconduct in the first place, they’ve successfully prolonged the discourse on the Try Guys situation even further, causing what seems to be lots of additional pain to the parties and families involved.

What do you think about SNL’s “Try Guys” sketch and the subsequent backlash? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

in Entertainment, Television

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