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SNL found an extremely weird way to spoof Jordan Peele’s Us

[Captain America voice] ‘I understood that reference’

Before premiering his new film Us at the 2019 SXSW film festival, writer-director Jordan Peele leaned into the conceit of his seeing-double, home-invasion thriller. The movie was about America, yes, but it also preyed on the innate fear of the doppelgänger.

Is that a thing? Even after being completely knocked out by Us, I couldn’t quite shake the idea that being confronted by a secret twin was one of the top 10 scariest threats lurking in the shadows. Peele says his fascination with the “tethered” began with “Mirror Image,” one of Rod Serling’s original Twilight Zone episodes. I assumed this was a had-to-be-there strain of paranoia ... that is, until Saturday Night Live reminded me that America’s been dealing with unsettling, splitting-image doubles for some time now, and if you’re a TV watcher, on a regular basis.

The terror stems from those Discover Card commercials in which people with credit card problems call a help desk and receive assistance from their doppelgänger. The sales pitch is harmless: Instead of a robot greeting your credit-induced rage, an actual Discover Card employee, someone just like you, will pick up the phone and help out.

The commercials provoked a faction of the internet that couldn’t tell if the doubles were actual twins, versions of the same actor wearing different costumes/makeup, or two different people entirely. Speculation ran rampant. An Us-like fear was born. Finally, someone asked, and Discover cleared the air.

To spoof Peele’s nightmarish vision, Saturday Night Live connected the dots between the commercials and the year’s biggest horror movie. One of the show’s newest cast members, Ego Nwodim, took over both Lupita Nyong’o roles, playing someone in need of Discover Card assistance, and Red, her “tethered,” working the help desk. The master plan in the SNL version? Credit card fraud.

Between Mueller report gags and a smatter of Sandra Oh-led sketches, SNL caught up with Us as it ascended to phenomenon status. After a second weekend in theaters, Peele’s sophomore feature has grossed over $128 million at the domestic box office. With a number like that, chances are slim that Peele will be calling his Discover Card helpline doppelgänger anytime soon.

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