Why Was SNL's February Zillow Sketch So Relatable?

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Our Thoughts
  • by Sarah Wheatley

An SNL episode that aired on February 6th, 2021 featured a skit that hit a little too close to “home” for many -- myself included. Zillow, a real estate company that is designed to make house-hunting a more seamless and enjoyable experience for consumers, was reimagined to mirror the same “desire” and sex-appeal as the old erotic chat lines from the last century. (I remember those commercials coming on our televisions late at night all too well.) 

If you haven’t seen the SNL skit yet, you can take a look at it here.

Since this comedic sketch aired, it has created a lot of chatter due to the relevancy of many millennials’ wildest fantasies of owning a home. And while browsing Zillow and other real estate websites isn’t a new behavior, this skit helped bring some of those deeper motivations into the spotlight.

To put it in their own words…
  • “That SNL Zillow skit was plucked straight from my life and I demand royalties 😂😭” -Twitter

  • “This was so accurate I felt personally attacked. And that made me smile and cry.  😂😭” -YouTube

It’s clear that a skit that highlights scrolling through real estate listings longingly has made many of us feel personally seen or attacked; even those who are looking at homes out of their price range, looking at homes in cities they would never actually live in, and aren’t even seriously looking for a home still enjoy the frequent scroll on Zillow. 

  • “I'm in my late 20s and this is so relatable. Never got to the point of calling the agent though, I ain't got that cash or want to live in the middle of nowhere that bad.” -YouTube

  • “That SNL Zillow thing was extra hilarious since I spent the night before (Friday night) looking at Zillow for about 2 hours - and I have no intention of moving or selling/buying a house.” -Twitter

  • “We closed on our amazing home almost a year ago and I still love cruising Zillow and Trulia.” -Reddit

Seeing the initial reactions to a humorous SNL skit made me realize how painfully true this is for my fellow millennials. But I wanted to know more about why. Why does owning a home feel like a distant dream instead of a reachable reality? 

Using our #nofilter methodology, I plunged into the chatter coming out of this popular skit to try and understand the deeper elements beneath the surface of this behavior. In my research, I was both surprised and not surprised at all to see how many financial roadblocks exist -- especially for millennials.

Most commonly for millennials, “house scrolling” has a lot to do with the current cost of living, which has made homeownership unattainable or unaffordable for them. 
  • “There is honestly something nice about browsing beautiful houses I can’t afford” -YouTube

  • “I laughed so hard I cried! This is for all millennials who can’t afford a house but love the fantasy! My entire email account is just a list of different Zillow notifications.” -YouTube

  • “Of course this is millennial porn. We know that we’ll never be able to buy nice homes. Only in our fantasies. Now if you’ll excuse me I have more homes to browse virtually” -Twitter

  • “Lol elder millennials’ deepest fantasies being about owning a home... sad but true” -YouTube

Debt and other financial bumps in the road are also a huge barrier between many millennials’ desire to own a home. Instead, they remain in rented apartments for much longer than they want to be.  

  • “100 thousand percent lol. Now if they’d just #cancelstudentdebt so I could afford a house payment” -Twitter

  • “Gotta love a joke about how most young people can’t afford a house. Finna be middle aged with no net worth just debt.” -YouTube

  • “As a poor millennial who desperately needs to get out of a tiny but overpriced ‘low income’ apartment, I felt that. Wish housing wasn't ridiculously expensive; a standard house is now 10x the cost it was when my parents were my age. A house is no longer affordable for the common folk.” -YouTube
  • “[I] would love to move anywhere else but you just can’t because your credit sucks. Then Zillow definitely becomes the stuff of unattainable, escapist fantasy.” -YouTube

For many, the pandemic plays a huge role in why so many are seeking joy through fantasizing about the future; it’s all a way to get their minds off the current state of reality. 

  • “Zillow featured on SNL in a different light 😂😂. Congrats Zillow for bringing so much ‘joy’ to Americans during the pandemic!” -Twitter

  • “It's rare when SNL really nails it these days. Here's a home run with some of our obsession (guilty!) with real estate as a substitute for, um, other outlets during the pandemic” -Twitter

  • “I admit it. I’ve become a Zillow whore during the pandemic. Damn you Zillow!” -Twitter

After taking a closer look at what other millennials alike are experiencing, I felt a sincere validation as to why I’ve personally held off on buying a home. The barriers between whimsidasically browsing other people’s homes and clicking that “Contact Agent” button make owning a home feel further out of reach: to save, to pay off debt, and to save some more can feel like a tense game where the goalposts continuously move farther and faster than you.

If you, like me and thousands of other millennials, felt personally seen by this SNL skit, remember that you’re not alone.