Going into this article, I’m going to have to admit straight away that I am extremely biased: I think “The Californians” is the best “Saturday Night Live” skit of all time. Growing up in Mexico (but raised by two parents who spent many years living in California), the idea of living on the West Coast was always foreign and riveting. To me, California was a mystical, borderline ethereal land. As a young teen, I imagined the inhabitants of this magical place possessing only the best of moral qualities.
This all changed when I first watched “The Californians.” This skit (and its many iterations) provided a drastic turnaround for the way in which I regarded California and its inhabitants. With lots of laughs and gasps of astonishment, my idea of California as the promised land was quickly shattered.
So, to honor the way in which “The Californians” helped me see past California’s golden facade, here are a few reasons as to why this is the very best “SNL” skit.
It shows Californians’ obsession with directions
Of course I had to begin with perhaps the most defining aspect of the beloved skit! As a semiforeigner, I always found it bizarre that residents of the West Coast seemed so proud of the different road combinations they took each day. Sure, traffic in California is bad, but the way people discuss directions borderlines on reverence! Nobody actually cares whether you take Mulholland Drive or San Vicente Boulevard to reach Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Stewart!
It pokes fun at the outrageous accents
Just when you think you’ve deciphered Bill Hader or Fred Armisen’s layered accents, they’ll throw you another curveball — like Armisen’s infamously garbled “what’re YOU doing here?!”— that’ll have you either guffawing or shaking your head in disgust over their ridiculous takes on the “Californian” accent.
It sheds light on Californians’ penchant for buying furniture
And not just any furniture! We’re talking hacienda-style chairs, for goodness sake! “The Californians” pokes fun at our obsession with remodeling (each setting of the various Californians skits has different furniture, which Stewart always helpfully points out). This aspect of the skit is both hilarious and eye-opening: it’s definitely true that we’ve become a bit too obsessed with Ikea as of late.
The sheer star power
Bill Hader. Kristen Wiig. Fred Armisen. Kenan Thompson. Plus tons of guest appearances like Josh Brolin, who plays the bro-ish doctor who informs Armisen about his impending demise … but don’t worry. The coffee shop near the hospital validates parking.
Bradley Cooper also makes an appearance as a befuddled pool boy, Taylor Swift plays an evil family member and even Justin Bieber shows up to play a runaway teen!
All in all, “The Californians” truly has it all. From self-aware social critiques to all-out hilarity, this skit showcases some of the very best acting from “SNL” in a setting that us California Bears might find all too familiar.