Spoofs & Satire

Mea Culpa, Oprah

Ever since Lance Armstrong told Oprah about his persistent doping, lying, and just plain being mean, celebrities are lining up for their own public confessions. Starting with Breaking Bad’s Walter White.

Daniel Edwards, Oprah Burial Mask, 2008. Courtesy the artist and Leo Kesting Gallery.

“It’s clear that [Lance] Armstrong explaining all the shit he’s done would be about as effective as the fictional Walter White from Breaking Bad going on Oprah’s show and looking for forgiveness.”—Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter

Oprah: Let us start with the questions people around the world have been waiting for you to answer. And for now I’d just like a yes or a no. Yes or no, did you manufacture and sell methamphetamines?

Walter: Yes.

Oprah: Did you murder people, or let them die due to your inaction or indirect actions, in order to sustain your business manufacturing and selling methamphetamines?

Walter: Yes.

Oprah: Was it humanly possible to support your family and pay for your cancer treatment without killing people or manufacturing and selling methamphetamines? 

Walter: Not in my opinion. Oprah, I explored other options. I did. No one wanted to buy my iPhone apps. I had a bake sale that lost money. And, at the time, I had a moral objection to robbing banks. So, you can see, there really was no other choice. This business—I didn’t invent the culture, Oprah. But I didn’t try to stop it.

Oprah: Why admit it now?

Walter: That is the best question. It’s the most logical question. I don’t know that I have a great answer. But it’s too late for probably most people.

Oprah: It’s too late for Emilio, Krazy Eight, Jane, Tuco, Gale Boetticher, Victor, Gus, Don Salamanca, that boy on the motorbike, Mike, Mike’s nine guys, arguably those 167 airplane travelers. And we haven’t even seen Season Six. Do you kill Hank?

Walter: To be honest, Oprah, I kill so many people. I don’t even—I don’t want to spoil anything. 


Oprah: Macbeth. You know the yes or no drill. So let’s get started. Did you stab to death your host and majesty, King Duncan?

Macbeth: Yes.

Oprah: Did you hire assassins to kill your friend, Banquo, and his young son?

Macbeth: Yes.

Oprah: Did you—

Macbeth: But I don’t know if I had a choice, Oprah. You see, there was a prophecy. It’s not an excuse. But these three witches told me, “Thou shalt be King hereafter.”

Oprah: If these witches prophesized that you would someday be on the Oprah Winfrey Network apologizing to the world would you—

I don’t know if I had a choice, Oprah. You see, there was a prophecy. It’s not an excuse. But these three witches told me, “Thou shalt be King hereafter.”

Macbeth: There’s a lot of things the witches didn’t tell me. Or explained in ways that ended up being misleading.

Oprah: Let’s not keep blaming the witches.

Macbeth: If there is someone to blame, it is my wife, Lady MacBeth. She bullied me.

Oprah: How did she bully you?

Macbeth: She told me to screw my courage to the sticking place.

Oprah: What does that mean?

Macbeth: Oprah, I have no idea. But the way she said it? Jesus himself would have bloodied his hand.

Oprah: Are you facing your demons?

Macbeth: Absolutely. Absolutely, yeah. Banquo’s ghost. The hallucinations of the eight crowned kings that looked like Banquo. It’s a process and I think, you know, we’re at the beginning of the process. 

Oprah: It’s an epic story. What’s the moral to the story?

Macbeth: I don’t have a great answer there. I can look at what I did—the killing, lying about it, killing again, lying about that killing and the previous lying. Of course you’re not supposed to do those things. That’s what we teach our children. That’s the easy thing. There’s another moral to this story. And that is: Don’t listen to your wife.


Oprah: Were you an apostle of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?

Judas: Yes.

Oprah: Did you betray him to the Roman High Priest Caiaphas?

Judas: Yes.

Oprah: For 30 pieces of silver?

Judas: I’ve made some mistakes in my life. And that was a mistake. But, Oprah, at the time, I didn’t know he was the son of God. Most of us just thought he was a super charismatic but kind of ridiculous nobody.

Oprah: Jesus, you mean?

Judas: Of course, hindsight is perfect. I know it a thousand times more now. Look at the fallout. Understand though, 30 pieces of silver was a lot back then. You could retire to Bethlehem with that kind of scratch.

Oprah: But you gave it back? Your award.

Judas: I had to.

Oprah: Because you felt remorse?

Judas: Also, the governing bodies made me.

Oprah: I have this email a friend sent to me after finding out I was going to be doing this interview with you, and it says, “I have heard that he is a real jerk.” What do you say to the woman who wrote that email and the millions of people who feel the same way?

Judas: I say I understand your anger, your sense of betrayal. I will spend— and I’m committed to spending— as long as I have to make amends knowing full well I won’t change many Christian minds. Maybe some Atheists. A couple Jews.

Oprah: Is it well with the three of you? Have you made peace with God and his son?

Judas: They’ve been hurt too badly. And a 40-minute phone conversation just isn’t going to repair that.


Oprah: What were you thinking when you decided to go after Adam and Eve?

Satan (Paradise Lost): As I try to take myself out of the situation and I look at it. The Son of God may have defeated your takeover of Heaven. But all is not lost. You wake next to the criminally underappreciated Lake of Fire; you build the city of Pandemonium in an hour— a hell of a lot faster than Rome and heaven and Earth—you assemble a government of the finest fallen Angels, which you lead. It’s just this mythic, perfect story. But it kinda wasn’t true. 

I’ve had a messy life—I was self-begot and self-raised, which probably gave me the problems with authority; I’m also pretty sure I have undiagnosed ADHD. But it’s no excuse.

Oprah: Was it hard to live up to that picture that was created?

Satan (Paradise Lost): Very difficult. Certainly, I’m a flawed character, as I well know. But behind that picture and behind that story is momentum. Whether it’s your pride or your fate, it just gets going, and I lost myself in all of that.

Oprah: You mentioned therapy earlier, are you doing therapy?

Satan (Paradise Lost): Yeah. Over the course of my life, I’ve done it sporadically. I’m the type of being who needs to not do it sporadically. I’ve had a messy life—I was self-begot and self-raised, which probably gave me the problems with authority; I’m also pretty sure I have undiagnosed ADHD. But it’s no excuse.

Oprah: Do you have remorse for tricking them into eating from the Tree of Knowledge? Is there real remorse or a sense of sorry you got caught?

Satan (Paradise Lost): Everybody that gets caught and turned into a serpent for life is bummed out they got caught. It stinks. Literally. I slither through mud and worse all day. Do I have remorse? You know what? No, I don’t. Everyone comes on here and apologizes for what they did. When in reality they’d do the exact same thing. Except they’d do it better. You humans needed to know good and evil. If you didn’t, Oprah, there’d be nothing to put on this show.

Dave Cowen is a writer living in Los Angeles. He has published humor in the New Yorker, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and The Morning News. More by Dave Cowen