The 2016 presidential election coverage on "Saturday Night Live" has drawn so much attention that even Trump himself has weighed in on the quality of Alec Baldwin's impression.
While every presidential debate parody trumps the last, something that has drawn less attention are the brilliant portrayals of Melania Trump by Cecily Strong.
It is particularly refreshing to see these portrayals because, for the most part, Melania has played a limited role in Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Typically, spouses appear on the campaign trail with the candidates and help paint a picture of each candidate as a relatable “family person.”
Bill has certainly helped the Clinton campaign, and both Rubio and Cruz's wives took to the campaign trail often. However, during the primaries, Trump generally campaigned with his daughter, Ivanka, rather than his wife.
According to the New York Times, “Ivanka has been more publicly involved in the campaign than [Melania], serving as something of a surrogate spouse to Mr. Trump by defending his treatment of women and emphasizing his good character."
Melania's most notable campaigning moment was at the Republican National Convention, where she gave an enthralling speech about her husband's commitment to the nation and its people.
It was later discovered, of course, that this speech was largely plagiarized from one that Michelle Obama gave eight years ago. This resulted in a large scandal and left people questioning the legitimacy of Trump's staff and speechwriters.
Soon after, her website, MelaniaTrump.com, was deleted, removing her biography that claimed she got an undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Ljubljana, according to the Huffington Post.
And ever since, Melania has basically vanished from the public eye. According to the Washington Post, Melania was absent from campaign events for seven weeks in July and August 2016. Only recently has she started taking the stage again.
In light of the recent tape that was released of Trump's conversation with Billy Bush in 2005, a brief statement from Melania Trump was released on Trump's website, noting that the tape “does not represent the man that [she] know[s]” and encouraging people to “focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world.”
She also recently took interviews with both CNN and Fox News to discuss the incident, which "The Daily Show" points out were two incredibly similar interviews. In both, Melania specifically notes that Trump is “kind… a gentleman” and “real and raw,” and that such accusations against Trump are “damaging and unfair.”
Melania's involvement in Trump's campaigning has been minimal, to say the least. Considering she's his wife and that spouses generally play a large role in campaigning, it's surprising Melania's voice has been so small.
Additionally, her few appearances have been marred with unoriginality and repetition, with the appearance of over-rehearsal. This is why Cecily Strong's portrayal of Melania on "SNL" is so notable.
Strong has played Melania Trump only a few times on "SNL" during this election cycle.
Once was during a parody of Donald and Melania discussing his policies. Melania is depicted as speaking carelessly and openly about Trump's candidacy:
Donald is so smart [...] he knows that if he said the craziest thing, he will go up in the poll numbers.
It's an allegation Trump (played by Taran Killam) denies:
Come on, Melania, that's just not true [...] I speak from my heart.
You know, he's the only man who can unite both sides because he's running as Republican, but his ideas are actually more like Democrat […] On social issues, you can be gay, you can have abortion, he don't care!
Beyond the jokes, this is more vocal than Melania Trump has ever actually been on the campaign trail. This kind of off-the-cuff, candid commentary from Melania is unseen in reality.
In a clip of Melania speaking at a rally in Milwaukee, every line is clearly rehearsed, and she is speaking directly from a script.
More recently, "SNL" released a parody of Beyoncé's Lemonade, "Melanianade," which features Melania as well as other women who work closely with Trump on his campaign (Ivanka and Tiffany Trump, Kellyanne Conway and Omarosa Manigault) and are frustrated with Trump's negligence.
It is mainly narrated by Melania (Strong), who is incredibly bothered by Trump's latest comments about sexually assaulting women. This differs greatly from Melania's actual reaction, which was an underwhelming statement of understanding and moving forward.
While such portrayals are entirely speculation and satire, Cecily Strong's performances clearly highlight Melania's absence. For someone so central to be so hidden only adds to the unconventionality of both Trump's campaign and this election in general.
Melania has offered little on what her priorities would be as First Lady, the office of which can certainly pursue its own agenda (as we have seen with Michelle Obama's “Let's Move!” campaign).
"SNL" is making a conscious choice to satirize someone who is indisputably missing from the spotlight during this election, someone whose absence is atypical and odd. It brings attention to the fact that in reality, Melania Trump is far from vocal, despite her portrayal on "SNL."
It leaves people wondering where Melania is and when her true, unrehearsed voice will be heard in Trump's campaign and potential office as we near November 8.