I have been recapping and reviewing Saturday Night Live for seven or eight years now—I’m not exactly sure how long, because our SNL archives cut off after ten pages, which tops out at about 2014. They literally don’t go back far enough for me to be able to tell you when I started doing this. Sometimes my life feels like a blurry montage of pre-taped sketches. One minute Jenny Slate is there, the next she’s gone. Has Jimmy Fallon been breaking as long as I’ve been alive? Whither Michaela Watkins? I think Kenan Thompson is my father?
Most of the time, it’s pretty fun—I get to watch comedy sketches, isolate what works and what doesn’t work to me, and offer recommendations so that all of you don’t have to bother with the mediocre stuff. And occasionally a celebrity pops into my DMs to yell at me! What more could a blogger want!
But with a few exceptions (John Mulaney’s wonderful episode, the Trump-free holiday episode, about half of Don Cheadle’s episode, Leslie Jones’s ode to the Upper East Side), this season has been one of the weakest of the last decade. Did you know that Halsey hosted this season? And it was so bad we didn’t even write about it? When the biggest SNL sketch of the week is Pete Davidson apologizing for some slightly naughty joke he made on Weekend Update, there is something deeply off-balance. To misquote Tony Soprano, I know that every piece of sketch comedy is a gift and it takes a village of hardworking people to put this show together. It’s just…does it have to be a pair of socks?
This weekend’s episode, with host Emma Stone and musical guest BTS (based on the audience reaction/screaming, it was more like, “The BTS Show, plus some comedy I guess?”) marks the fourth consecutive episode that has left me desperately grasping for any sorts of laughs I can find (and based on the comments, you all have even less kind things to say about the show right now). Stone, making her fourth hosting appearance, is a comedic treasure who was charming as ever, slipping comfortably into a bunch of weird, silly, bubbly characters with the ease of a comedy veteran. But there’s just something so deflating about the writing right now—most evident in the political sketches, which are nearly unwatchable this year—that it’s become a slog watching entire episodes. They got Michael Fucking Legend Keaton to make a cameo and it still wasn’t enough to liven up the cold open! I ended up changing the channel to the Game Of Thrones marathon on HBO (“The Battle Of The Bastards”…still incredible!!!) and forced myself to catch up with the rest of SNL on Sunday morning.
But I don’t want to shit on the show—there are plenty of people on Twitter who gladly do that every week. While I’ve felt disappointed with SNL on the whole this season, it has also made me really appreciate the individual moments and turns of phrase that are hilarious, the performers who turn in great character work and one-liners every episode. So I will now find something nice to say about every single sketch, starting with the sketches I really did enjoy—positive vibes only from here on out.
Fashion Coward! Best pre-taped sketch of the night! “Clothes that suggest the general idea of a person” is a perfect line. Who wouldn’t want pants for the legs! Everyone did a great job here, I love you all very much.
The last time Stone hosted, we got the instant classic “Well For Boys” sketch. Stone (and presumably writer Julio Torres, who wrote “Well For Boys” and I would guess this one too) pulled out a similar mood for The Actress, a pre-taped sketch about an actress really honing in on her character’s backstory (as a woman being cheated on in a gay porno). It’s dryly funny work that takes its character seriously. Good job everyone!
Ladies Room is a perfect sendup of early ’80s fashion and music (if there were more fog, it could even be a Prince music video). The song is super catchy, the dance moves are dope, and Kenan Thompson is a national treasure who should never leave SNL.
Melissa Villaseñor has been on SNL for three seasons now, and while she’s absolutely masterful at impressions, she hasn’t really had many standout sketches otherwise. So it’s been a real pleasure getting to watch her start to become a scene-stealer in recent weeks (as with the Kit Harington “Bachelorette Party” sketch). In Hobby Song, she gets the spotlight to awkwardly rap about her many hobbies (including smelling books), and that’s pretty okay in my book.
Stone and the audience got the best gift of all for her Monologue: Kyle Mooney! He wasn’t cut for time this week!
Kate McKinnon, who remains the star of this current iteration of the show (at least until her movie/TV career really explodes, which will be any second now), and her Lori Loughlin in the Jail Cell Cold Open shows why. Also, Michael Fucking Legend Keaton!
Aidy Bryant is one of my favorite current cast members, and her Meghan McCain is the standout of this The View parody. “Can I just say something? As the princess of Arizona, there is a crisis at the border and the border is right up in my Arizona, which was founded on sunburnt women selling turquoise jewelry,” she says. “And that’s not racist because my makeup artist is gay.”
Speaking of Bryant: she is also the best part of Royal Baby Video as James Corden.
Stone did one of these Dorm Room Posters sketches the last time she hosted, and her baby-voiced, burger-scarfing, garden hose-drinking pinup gals were the highlight here.
There are some fun weird accents in the 10-to-1 sketch Chalmers Reserve Event Wine.
Heidi Gardener has become my favorite Weekend Update guest of the current cast—she’s accumulated so many great characters, it seems like she has been on almost every week this season (and deservedly so). This week, she and Mikey Day showed up as Instagram influencers Nico Slobkin and Brie Bacardi to talk about picnics and bicker about their relationship.
Bryant—delightful! sweet! funny!—also showed up as seventh grade Travel Expert Carrie Krum.
Here is the rest of Weekend Update, who used footage from the 2016 campaign to remind Trump he is in fact familiar with WikiLeaks.
If like me you’ve never heard a BTS song before now, here is your chance to hear “Boy With Luv” and “Mic Drop.”
SNL is wisely taking the rest of April off to gear up for the final three episodes of the season in May, starting with Adam Sandler returning to Studio 8H on May 4th to host for the first time ever (along with musical guest Shawn Mendes).