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By now everyone and their mother has heard about, read about, or seen Betty White’s star turn on “Saturday Night Live.” White, at 88 the oldest host the show has ever had, was recruited thanks to a huge fan movement on Facebook. Mission accomplished: White demonstrated why shn266442514828_8596e remains not just a show-business legend but a consummate performer with pitch perfect timing. 

In a night filled with the pleasures of seeing returning veterans like Cheri Oteri, Rachael Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Maya Rudolph,Amy Poehlner, and Tina Fey, White more than held her own. The show tackled the age difference between the cast and its guest (about half a century or more) head-on in a way that was funny, yes, but also generous and even celebratory. The generation gap was nowhere in evidence; clearly bawdy humor knows no age restrictions. 

White’s skill as a television comedian isn’t a surprise, given her years of experience, some 56 years by her own account. But the excitement generated by her eighty-eight and a half year-old presence seemed to mean something more. Sure, Betty White is the grandmother (great-grandmother?) the audience probably wants. She’s also, in an age of heightened awareness of our own and our loved ones’ morality, the antithesis of the despair that old age represents. In the real world, there are wheelchairs and nursing homes, strokes and Alzheimers, isolation and depression; on “SNL” there is Betty White. Who among us would not be pulled in and held in a state of hopeful suspended animation by the thought of being half the active, engaged and thoroughly entertaining Ms. White deep into our ninth decade?

On the other hand, Betty White gave a kick-ass, thoroughly invested, totally funny performance. At any age, she is a television treasure. Rock on, Betty.

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