During one of the comedy sketches on the most recent episode of Saturday Night Live (May 14), host Selena Gomez and cast member Melissa Villaseñor played two cholas – Sofia and Vanessa – hosting a fictional public access talk show about the things happening around the city of Pico Rivera southeast of Los Angeles.
For the skit, Gomez and Villaseñor, who are both Mexican-American, wore plaid long-sleeve shirts, white tank tops, beige chino pants, black grommet belts, hoop earrings and had their hair teased, and wore noticeable makeup. Both spoke with thick accents and welcomed guests on the show to talk about books and rap music. They also spoke about Sofia’s new eyeliner. “The eyeliner poked me in the eye,” Sofia said. “That’s sad.”
There were plenty of viewers who found the skit funny, especially those familiar with the Pico Rivera area.
Others, however, called the skit everything from “embarrassing” to “distasteful” to “racist as f—k.” Many wondered why SNL had to go straight for the stereotypes just because they had a Latine host.
It probably doesn’t help that SNL has only had five Latine hosts in the past five seasons (or 100 episodes). One of those hosts from earlier this season, Oscar winner Ariana DeBose (West Side Story), seemed to be a fan of the chola sketch.
It also probably doesn’t help that Villaseñor has been used sparingly this season on SNL and is then given two stereotypical roles to play in one episode. Earlier in the episode, she plays a maid in a sketch about the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial.
In the case of the Villaseñor and Gomez chola sketch, it looks like we have a hung jury in the court of public opinion.