Saturday Night Live’s “Is My Brain Okay” sketch Saturday was probably the best, most terrifyingly accurate one that the show has done for quite some time.
“Hello and welcome to the game all of us play every day, ‘Is My Brain Okay?’ Whether it was the year in isolation, the two years without any semblance of society, or the virus itself physically shrinking our brains, one thing’s for sure, we got stupid,” cast member Kate McKinnon said to open the sketch as the game’s host.
Without missing a beat, the sketch immediately hit on the impact the COVID-19 lockdowns had on our careers. SNL host Jerrod Carmichael played a former marketing director for IBM. When asked what he does now that the lockdowns are over, Carmichael responded, “mushrooms.”
McKinnon then asked questions that contestants knew the answers to before COVID, starting with showing the contestants an image of a wheelbarrow and asking them to name it. None of them could. From there, they’re asked what day of the week it is, followed by a question of what month.
Things took a subtle but dark turn toward our national state of mental health after McKinnon’s character can’t remember the word “jumpstart,” and ends up asking herself, “Damn it, what is wrong with me?” Bowen Yang’s character replied, “you’re depressed,” followed by Sarah Sherman’s character guessing, “you’ve never felt more alone.”
You really have to watch the rest of the sketch to get the full impact that these six minutes and 40 seconds have. Whether it’s the loss of a job, your mental health, any semblance of social skills or going to bed bizarrely early, oversharing, or literally forgetting how to be a human, something in this sketch will hit you like a brick wall.
For me, it was the final few seconds where McKinnon and Carmichael go back and forth on the best ways to minimize your time awake and alive. While designed to be funny, the exchange showed just how normal we’ve made self-isolation, and the impact this is having on our will to stay awake … or alive.
Rates of depression tripled when the pandemic first hit and they don’t appear to be slowing, according to The Brink. Suicide rates in the US have reached an average of 130 a day, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reported. The pandemic didn’t just hurt our brains from an intelligence perspective, but damn near destroyed us emotionally and socially, and now we’re still destroying ourselves and each other.
The response to the sketch from Twitter users was even more concerning. (RELATED: SNL Rips Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill)
— Garin Pirnia (@gpirnia) April 3, 2022
Who else watched the @nbcsnl sketch “Is MY Brain Okay ” and felt that?
— Ms. Marvel 📎 (@PattyMarvel) April 3, 2022
This “Is My Brain Okay?” skit on @nbcsnl is too damn close to real.
— Beth 💙💜💖 (@librarybunny) April 3, 2022
“Is My Brain Ok” is hitting too close to reality. Many times during the pandemic I’ve forgotten the day of the week…and talking to people is a skill I’ve lost. #SNL
— Jael Fogle (@bookangel224) April 3, 2022
The lockdowns normalized our independence to the point where we’ve forgotten how important community is to getting through the day. But we’ve been so long without each other, we’ve basically forgotten how to even be together now that we’re allowed back out.