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"SNL" Under Fire for Controversial Britney Spears Sketch

Fans are accusing the show of stealing a joke from social media.

Britney Spears' memoir, The Woman in Me, is one of the most talked-about celebrity autobiographies in recent years. What the pop star has shared about her life in her own words led to countless headlines, even before the book's release, so, it's no surprise that Saturday Night Live would get in on the action. The Nov. 11 episode, hosted by Timothée Chalamet, included a controversial sketch about the memoir. And while many fans are protective of Spears for a variety of reasons, including the conservatorship she was subject to for years, the sketch is also being called out for allegedly ripping a viral joke from social media.

RELATED: Maya Rudolph Says This SNL Host Made the Cast Want to Leave.

The sketch, entitled "The Woman in Me: Auditions," imagines what it would be like for a plethora of other celebrities to try their hand at recording the audiobook version of Spears' memoir. (The real audio version is read by actor Michelle Williams.) Through the course of the sketch, cast members and Chalamet do impressions of Allison Janney, Jada Pinkett Smith, Ice Spice, Martin Scorsese, and more reading excerpts from the autobiography.

In addition to playing Spears in the segment, SNL star Chloe Fineman also does an impersonation of actor and model Julia Fox. Rather than read a segment from the actual book, Fineman-as-Fox reads what some viewers at home recognized as a fake snippet that went viral on X (formerly Twitter) weeks ago.

On Oct. 16, X user Brian (@TheHalfBloodLad) posted, "'Okay, I'm ready, put it in' I said and he replied: It is already in. My world collapsed." This exchange is not in the book and is instead a joke about Spears' ex, Justin Timberlake, who does not come off well in the memories she shares of their relationship.

"My tweet comes from a very well known Sex and the City Samantha joke," Brian told HuffPost after the episode aired. "You can google it. It was simply a fan joke and I can't believe it's been blown out of proportion like this. Britney is a huge SATC fan and I'm sure she got the reference immediately, but SNL using it is just weird. That's all I have to say."

As HuffPost notes, if Brian's post was the source of the text, it's unclear from its use in the sketch whether the SNL writers knew it was a joke or actually believed it was something Spears wrote. Best Life has reached out to the show for comment.

Some X users have slammed the show for "stealing" Brian's viral joke. "Bruh. They just used your joke on SNL. You should call them out on it," wrote one user. Another shared, "oh – so twitter writes their jokes now." Someone else posted, "they literally stole it from the internet not a good look." One user said, "Twitter user @TheHalfBloodLad is entitled to financial compensation," and Brian responded, "Yes @nbcsnl where is my money."

Other fans aren't pleased that SNL based a sketch on the memoir in the first place. "In her book Britney Spears wrote about her traumas and how everyone used her even her family members mistreated her and SNL have the audacity to make her fun like this way [sic]? Shame on them!" a user wrote on X. Someone else said, "This is comedy? Making fun of a person who poured their soul into a book about their life and the terrible things that happened to it?" Another user posted, "This is so classless of SNL. Way to punch down."

Meanwhile, some viewers defended the sketch, explaining that they understood it to be poking fun at the celebrities auditioning, not at Spears. "I went on [YouTube] to check the video, ready to get angry at SNL, then I realized the schetch wasn [sic] even making fun of Britney," wrote an X user. "It was just an excuse to some impersonations. I mean, they were making fun [of Timothée] more than Britney in that bit alone."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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