Depp is suing Heard for $50m (£40.8m) for implying that he abused her in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed.
Although she didn’t name him, the Pirates of the Caribbean actor claims that her allegations cost him movie roles, impacting his ability to work in Hollywood.
The high-profile trial centres around serious allegations of domestic and sexual abuse by Depp and Heard respectively. It has been broadcast online and has spawned an explosion of merchandise, including mugs and t-shirts, and a near-constant barrage of memes over Depp and Heard’s testimonies.
During the cold open on SNL’s most recent episode, which was aired on Saturday (14 May), Kate McKinnon and other cast members performed a sketch based on the trial.
“I know it’s not the most pertinent story at the moment,” McKinnon began. “But with all the problems in the world, isn’t it nice to have a news story we all can collectively say ‘glad it ain’t me?’”
Turning to “live coverage” of the trial, the rest of the cast spoofed Depp’s prior allegation that Heard had left faecal matter in his bed out of anger.
Social media users have criticised the “grotesque” sketch, with one person writing: “I cannot imagine ever thinking that making jokes about a case with serious abuse allegations (on both sides) is appropriate.”
Another social media user commented: “SNL epic failed on the Depp/Heard trial parody.”
“This isn’t a joke, it’s a story of horrific abuse and just shows how little regard we have for survivors,” one person wrote.
Court proceedings in the defamation trial will resume on Monday (16 May) after a week-long hiatus, when Heard returns to the stand to continue her testimony.
She has already spoken extensively about her troubled relationship with Depp and detailed alleged physical fights. The court heard a harrowing account of an alleged sexual assault on Heard during a brutal and bloody altercation in Australia in 2015.
According to reporting by Law & Crime, Depp will also be called back to the witness stand as part of Heard’s case. The jury will also hear from Whitney Henriquez, Heard’s sister, and actor Ellen Barkin, with whom Depp had a brief relationship in the 1990s.
Follow live updates of the trial here.