Former ‘Saturday Night Live’ Staffers Allege Show Had Sexist Work Culture In Late 90’s/Early 00’s
Saturday Night Live has been a loved comedy institution for many fans and has endured much longer than most shows ever hope to. However, an era of the show’s history that many may look back on extremely fondly is now coming into question.
Several female staffers that worked for the show in the late 1990s to early 2000s spoke with Business Insider and shared many stories that suggested a pervasively harmful and inappropriate workplace culture towards women, which were perpetrated by many high-ranking cast and crew members of the show at that time.
Troubling aspects of this era of the show first came to light last year when an anonymous woman filed a lawsuit against Horatio Sanz, claiming he contacted her after seeing her write on fan sites for SNL, then allegedly groomed and sexually assaulted her while she was between the ages of 15 and 17, and he was in his 30’s.
The plaintiff said she regularly attended SNL afterparties and said that most attendees knew she was underage and regularly saw her drinking alcohol and being physically affectionate with Sanz. She also said then-cast member Jimmy Fallon once asked her about her college plans in a group conversation, noting that the rest of the group went silent when hearing about her age.
Her complaint didn’t mention other cast members by name but did include a mention that she was “warned to stay away from another SNL cast member/NBC Employee because he sexually assaulted and/or sexually harassed” friends of hers.
A woman who worked at SNL as a writing intern at the age of 19 in the early 2000s said, “You’re here to get the coffee,” and felt that female staffers, “are just here to absorb the experience but not truly learn anything.” She also said that male cast members were regularly inviting young female interns to show after-parties.
Another former staffer said a producer on the show looked at some Listerine strips, and then told her, “You should put one of those on your vagina. I bet it would feel good.” She later also said the same producer showed her his nudes under the pretext of showing her his recent vacation photos.
The show’s reputation for its heavy party culture also blurred the lines around proper behavior around coworkers. One former female intern attended an “after-after-party,” and said that Sanz followed her into the bathroom at one point and asked her if he could touch her breasts. “You look back and realize, like, I wasn’t like one of the people at the party having fun with my friends. I was a joke. I was an expendable girl that was just around to take that kind of abuse,” she said.
NBC and SNL have yet to comment on these accusations, but NBC did attempt to distance themselves and the show from the Sanz suit by claiming they can’t be held liable for Sanz’s “after-hours” behavior “when he was not performing his job.”