‘Saturday Night Live’: Casey Affleck’s white elephant gift

Saturday Night Live
“Casey Affleck & Chance the Rapper”
December 17, 2016

The Saturday Night Live episode before the Christmas break has for the past few years been one of the better episodes of the season, often bringing back SNL alums like Jimmy Fallon, or Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to do the honors of hosting. This year SNL went with notorious laugh riot, Casey Affleck who is busy promoting his hilarious new comedy Manchester by the Sea. The episode was a mixed bag, to say the least. Some sketches were smart and played to the host’s strong suits (the Dunkin Donuts ad was genius) while other sketches seemed to have been pulled out of a slush pile of rejected ideas. In short, it was fine but not exactly an episode worthy of Fallon, Fey or Poehler.

Alec Baldwin returned to troll Donald Trump in the cold open, making fun of everything from appointing Governor Goodhair to head the Department of Energy, to the fact that no one is willing to perform at his inauguration to even yesterday’s “unpresidented” Twitter idiocy. (SERIOUSLY: HOW DID WE ELECT THIS FOOL?) But the real target of the sketch is Trump’s relationship with Putin and, perhaps more scathingly, Putin’s cozy relationship with Trump’s Secretary of State choice, Rex Tillerson, played by the ever-delightful John Goodman. It’s blisteringly good (although Cecily Strong needs to work on that Melania accent), and clearly someone took Trump’s phone away after he tweeted that China could just keep the drone they illegally snatched, because this had to have gotten under his gross orange Cheeto skin, and yet we haven’t heard a single tweet about it.

Grade: A

Casey Affleck’s monologue is designed to do two things: 1. remind us that he is in a very sad movie and 2. remind us that Alec Baldwin and John Goodman stopped by to help out with the episode. Mission accomplished on both counts.

Grade: B-

One thing you probably know about the Affleck brothers is that they are from Massachusetts — a fact that informs this Dunkin’ Donuts commercial featuring “real customers.” This is perfect.

Grade: A+

In this sketch, Microsoft introduces their new android that identifies as being gay and when Casey Affleck’s character asks why the gay robot keeps talking about being gay, Affelck’s character finds himself mired in a politically correct mess. While I think political correctness can be a worthy target of ridicule, this bit is so full of offensive gay stereotypes and whiny defensiveness on the part of the Affleck as the audience surrogate (a white heterosexual male audience surrogate, I should note), it ends up being infuriating. And putting Kate McKinnon in the sketch and sitting Affleck between a black man and a woman does not make it better. (Also, Fred? You came back for this, buddy?)

Grade: D-

This tribute to the Run DMC rap classic “Christmas in Hollis,” celebrates our last Christmas with Obama as President.

OH GOD WHAT HAVE WE DONE

Grade: A

Mrs. Rafferty is back! This time she and two others who experienced a “Christmas miracle” in which they were taken to the North Pole to visit Santa’s workshop tell their stories. Unlike previous outings, Casey Affleck and the rest of the cast manage to hold it together and not break character while Mrs. Rafferty recounts her nightmarish experiences.

Grade: A-

Here is your “Weekend Update” and the return of Putin’s Best Friends. It’s fine.

Grade: B

I really don’t know what to do with this sketch about a Christmas pageant that took some liberties with the material to make it funnier. It’s a joke about bad comedy? But it’s not that funny? If we’re going to do Kyle Mooney bits about bad comedy, we should just stick with his Bruce Chandling character and at least add a little melancholy to the proceedings.

Grade: C+

Confession: I HATE Love, Actually. I hate it. I think it is a terrible, terrible movie, and one of my least favorite scenes is when Rick Grimes harasses his best friend’s wife with those dumb posters confessing he’s in love with her. THAT IS SOME RIPE BULLSHIT, MAN. WHY ARE YOU BURDENING HER WITH THIS NOW, INSTEAD OF TELLING HER BEFORE SHE GOT MARRIED? YOU DON’T GET TO DUMP ON HER NOW, YOU CREEPY STALKER. KEEP IT TO YOURSELF, ASSHOLE. UNCOOL.

That said, this sketch in which Hillary Clinton plays the same bit on an Electoral College voter is just perfect, actually.

Grade: A+

In this bit which has become recurring for reasons that escape me, Santa’s elves get frisky with Mrs. Claus and demands that she “punish” them for being naughty. This bit just isn’t my cup of hot cocoa.

Grade: C+

And finally, a sketch that at the time of this writing no one on YouTube thought worthy of its own video, so if you want to watch it, stick around after the Elves bit. In it, a bunch of Brooklyn guys are “charmingly” shy and humble but end up in a bar fight. I have no idea what this is even about, or what the joke is. Are they supposed to be playing on some sort of Brooklyn stereotype that I know nothing about? I lived in Brooklyn for years, and I never met anyone who acted like this or even had this accent. Nope. Full nope.

Grade: D

But let’s not leave it on that weird note. Instead, let’s enjoy Chance the Rapper’s charming performance of “Finish Line” and “Drown.” Merry Christmas, my friends.

Final Grade: B. That feels about right.

Next week: No new episode until January 14th. We’ll see you then. In the meantime, Happy New Year!

Saturday Night Live airs at 10:30/11:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC.

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