Dear Molly Shannon,
I would like to apologize.
I used to have a big hate for you. HUGE. And I couldn't really explain why.
The original crew of women on SNL, I adored. Laraine Newman? Aces. Jane Curtin? Perfection (even when she was on "3rd Rock from the Sun"). Gilda Radner? A goddess. And I even loved the women into the 80s and early 90s. I mean, Jan Hooks! Victoria Jackson! Even Ellen Cleghorn, who no one else seemed to love.
But I couldn't seem to warm to Molly Shannon (you) on SNL for some reason.
I realize now, a lot of it was rooted in jealousy. Because you were plain (like me) and kind of dorky (also like me) and decidedly not glamorous, but could put it ON when you wanted to (also like me) and you were on SNL doing ridiculous shit... and having so much fun.
You seemed like a normal person who lucked into the best job on the planet.
I didn't have that. In fact, I lived in a world where jobs like that weren't even a possibility for me. They weren't real jobs for real people and I was a real people. So I couldn't even entertain the idea of being on stage or screen or acting or, what I really wanted to do, write about or for any of those things.
Jealously for me often manifested as dismissal or outward negativity towards the person I was jealous of. For that, I'm sorry (not just to you, Molly, but to anyone else who was affected by my weird jealous reactions - I'm working on it. It's fucking hard to untangle my brain and what it's really doing sometimes.)
Then I had a surprise kid in High School which changed the entire trajectory of my life, but that's a long story for another time.
Cause this letter is about you.
You also overcame big upheaval in your life, but it happened when you were four years old, losing your mom and sister in a car accident while you were in the car (and your dad was driving).
And you grew into such a strong, positive force and I'm sorry I didn't see it until earlier this year.
I just finished your book, but I knew before I even started that I owed you an apology.
See? I've been avoiding watching "The Other Two" on HBOMax for the longest time, because of this weird jealous annoyance I had of you.
Also, the cover and the title really turned me off for some reason.
Then I was doing a google for "Prestige Comedy Television Shows" as one does and "The Other Two" came up and I shrugged my shoulders and said to my stuffies, "okay let's give it a shot."
And I fell in love. Slowly at first, because I still had my Molly Shannon Wall up for some reason.
Pat Dubek broke it down in no time. I mean, Lance and Brookie and the other two Dubeks helped too, of course.
Sigh. And Streeter (played by Ken Marino), a little bit.
By the time I reached Season 1, Episode 8 of this beautiful show, I would literally die for Pat Dubek. And you, Molly Shannon.
Your performance in that episode-long scene on the plane was one of the most heart-breaking and nuanced performances of that year. I am teary eyed just thinking about it and the only other scenes that can do that for me (that I can think of at the moment) are the last six minutes of "Six Feet Under" and the scene where Peggy and Stan realize they love each other in "Mad Men".
And then, AND THEN, reading your book and learning about your own experiences with your father made me so emotional for you.
How hard that must have been to film, but at the same time, also - how cathartic. I bet that was a real release. It was for me and I'm just watching!
After I had voraciously watched both seasons of "The Other Two" twice, I started seeking out more of you.
The best of the lot was "Other People" with Jesse Plemmons.
Oof, talk about another heartbreaker, girl. This movie tugged at heartstrings I didn't even know I had.
Then to read in your book that you were a drama girl all along? You fucking nailed it.
I wish more people were like you (or what I know of you with my limited knowledge based on the media presented to me). You seem so kind and gentle and loving and patient and understanding. You treat everything you do with such care, even Mary Katherine Gallagher, who was based in part on a childhood friend, with the "superstar!" line thrown away at the end of the sketch to make a current friend laugh, you made sure that she was a fully realized character with hopes and dreams and fears and loves and not just a cartoon representation of a human.
Thank you. And thank you for Pat Dubek so much.
I'm sorry I let my jealousy of your amazing talent and career get in the way of my own enjoyment of it.