Bad news first: this week’s SNL fell apart significantly after Weekend Update (during Weekend Update, really). Its back half, included “Meet Cute” a just okay short film, a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory sketch all about how lame it was that Charlie’s bed-ridden grandparents could walk anytime they wanted, and a "Celebrity Family Feud", which are always underwhelming - though I was a big fan of that Casey Affleck impression and Leslie Jones’ near-crackup as Samuel L. Jackson.
But man, up until Weekend Update, this thing was exceptional. As usual, it started with a Trump sketch, this one focusing on all his awful phone calls with foreign leaders. I suppose the highlight here was the return of Dark Lord Steve Bannon, a joke that has effective bluntness, but I fear significantly limits any in-depth commentary on the guy. I’m not a big fan of these Trump sketches in general, but this one at least felt a little heated, as if they were trying as hard as they could to make Trump - who was undoubtedly watching - get all pissed off.
Speaking of that audience member, this was followed by Kristen Stewart’s monologue. Actually, it was two monologues. The first was all about how much Trump tweeted about her and her ex, Robert Pattinson and was funny, the second involved Aide Bryant and Kate McKinnon trying to out-nonchalant Stewart and was not. This was followed by an egregious f-bomb out of Stewart, that would go on to represent a lot of the show, which had a number of live TV issues.
The new Homeland Security border entrance video was great and mean and didn’t pull any punches making Trump’s ban look as awful as possible, which is surprising consider it was right at the top of the show.
Next was the surprisingly weird and gross “Dry Fridays” in which a group of coeds being punished for innocent drinking offenses share embarrassing drunken stories, all of which seem quaint next to Kristen Stewart’s casual admissions of egg insertions and fauxhawks. Its absurdity made it feel more like a final sketch than something you’d see so early in the show.
I was surprised to see another Super Bowl Totino’s commercial, and while I wondered what the twist would be, I had no way to expect it would turn into a French indie film about a housewife who has a lesbian tryst with bad girl Kristen Stewart. “What’s your name?” followed by “I never had one” is the kind of joke that keeps me watching this show, despite its frequent disappointments.
That seemed like it would be the episode highlight, but then Melissa McCarthy came on to blow everything away with her perfect impression of angry little White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. I really don’t think it gets much better than this, particularly when McCarthy literally picks up her podium to bully a reporter. And while they make a joke about this not being a cold open, I still don’t understand why it wasn’t the cold open.
So it’s a battle between highs and lows. Unlike Aziz Ansari’s episode, which was pretty much wall-to-wall wonderful, last night’s SNL achieved some greatness, but couldn’t sustain it, making it more of a typical good episode than an exemplary one. But that’s better than a typical bad episode!
What did you think? And how much are you looking forward to next week’s Alec Baldwin episode?