Written by Hannah Dunleavy

In The News

Woman of the year: Kate McKinnon

Our writers pick the women who rocked their world in 2016. Hannah Dunleavy is sending flowers and thanks to the brilliant McKinnon.


Kate McKinnon as the brilliantly eccentric engineer Dr Jillian Holtzmann in Ghostbusters. Photo: Columbia Pictures.

Almost exactly a year ago, Saturday Night Live aired a proper funny sketch about alien abduction. If I’d told you to watch then, and you were looking for something else to persuade you, it might’ve been the fact Ryan Gosling is in it. Twelve months later it’d probably be the presence of Kate McKinnon. Now that’s what I call a good year.

Yes, I know there are people who probably do important jobs that have saved lives and righted wrongs in the last 12 months. And I applaud them. But McKinnon has made me repeatedly, consistently and riotously laugh, and in a year that can only be described as a pimple on top of a boil on top of a haemorrhoid on top of a festering sore, I think that counts for something.

If you want a good example of how funny she is, you can’t go wrong with that Close Encounter sketch, where she’s so relentless she causes nuclear level corpsing among the rest of the cast. When they leave the stage, Bobby Moynihan shakes his head with the air of man who can’t quite believe they got through it.

SNL has always been a victim of the ‘it’s not as good as it used to be’ thinking which afflicts any TV show that runs for more than a decade (or like SNL, four decades). But it’s hard not to see McKinnon’s tenure as soon-to-be-remembered ‘canon’. Everything she does literally sparkles.

Here she is again, reducing Margot Robbie to a giggling mess back in October.

Part of her success is down to her ability to disappear inside her character (she reminds me a huge amount of Jennifer Saunders in that respect). But more impressive than that is the fact that week in, week out she is on TV screens LIVE, something that remains so rare as to be full-on terrifying to most who have never done it.

That’s not to say she always keeps it together. Whether it’s that look of pride that creeps across her face when she realises she has destroyed Gosling, or those tears that well up when singing Hallelujah, the real Kate McKinnon often peeks out. Which to me, along with the fact she can also sing and play a piano (of course she can), makes her all the more endearing.

It’ll probably be for her Hillary Clinton impersonation that McKinnon will be remembered in 2016. But her finest achievement was in Ghostbusters, where she created a character so effortlessly fun and cool that while Twitter collapsed into a dying star of middle-aged tantrums and misogyny, little girls and boys around the world mimicked Holtzmann’s gun-licking wonder and thought about how cool it would be to be a scientist.

gun lick gif
Bravo Ms McKinnon. I love you. No, really.

Read our contributors’ other picks for women of the year here.


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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.