Saturday Night Live
Jimmy Fallon & Harry Styles
April 15, 2017
Let me be upfront with you: I am probably grading this episode of Saturday Night Live harsher than it deserves, but Jimmy Fallon, ugh. I don’t dislike the guy, but I do wish I could go back to when I looked forward to him hosting Saturday Night Live because he was such a reliable professional. However, in the wake of everything that has happened in the past 18 months or so, Fallon hosting SNL forces us all to pretend for an hour and a half that he and the show didn’t do their damnedest to normalize Trump. He didn’t need to have Trump on as a guest and floof his hair and Saturday Night Live didn’t need to have Trump on as a host and try to make him look like he could take a joke — but they did because they couldn’t resist the ratings gold and now he’s President and I still blame them both a little bit so, you know, fuck fairness.
We begin the episode with another unimaginative Trump cold open: this time Trump choosing between Fallon’s Jared Kushner and Skeletal Steve Bannon in an Apprentice-style elimination. It’s fine, but Fallon doesn’t actually do anything with his Kushner character — he literally doesn’t say a single word. It feels like a wasted opportunity — or, worse, that he helped glamorize Kushner even more.
This was the first episode to be broadcast live across the country, which I suppose is a big deal if you live in Los Angeles or Seattle, but here in the Central Time Zone it meant nothing at all. Anyway, Fallon celebrated this by doing a big dance performance to “Let’s Dance,” and pretending that everything is Just Fine and Peachy Keen and that we weren’t goading North Korea into war just a couple of days ago. Fun!
My 12-year-old as he went upstairs to put himself to bed upon seeing that “Celebrity Family Feud” was the next sketch: “See, they’d never say that but it would be funny if they did, but they wouldn’t and that’s why it’s funny and we’re running out of ideas and someone please help…”
The actual joke is somehow even lamer: Jimmy Fallon plays two John Travoltas, one 70s Travolta, one modern Travolta, and Fallon has to run back and forth and change costumes to do so. So basically, this entire sketch is for the benefit of the studio audience and no one else.
Also, Harry Styles is in it.
Hey, it’s another sketch about kid actors. You’d almost think that the actors and writers of Saturday Night Live were huge drama geeks in high school or something.
Points in favor of this sketch in which a guy tries to woo back his ex-girlfriend:
- The punchline is pretty funny
- It’s short
After Sean Spicer defended Hitler as being less terrible than Bashar Al-Assad by claiming that he didn’t use chemical weapons, calling concentration camps “Holocaust centers” and then IN HIS APOLOGY implying that somehow the Jews that were killed by Hitler were not “innocents,” it was a given that Melissa McCarthy would be back to do her remarkable impersonation of the worst White House Press Secretary in American history. And she did not disappoint. (Interesting fact: unable to go to New York for the week, McCarthy filmed this in Los Angeles, which helps explain why the audience response didn’t seem quite in sync with the bit.)
Here’s your “Weekend Update.” It’s fine. Michael Che’s chocolate cake joke is the best thing in it.
Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy is back.
Bruce Chandling is also back. Ugh.
In this bit, Civil War soldiers sing a song called “Old New York,” and the joke is that Fallon adds discordantly modern lyrics to the song. Ha?
Also, Harry Styles is in it.
The commercial spoof for “Turtle Shirts,” a shirt designed to hide you during embarrassing situations, arrives fairly late in the episode. It’s not SNL’s best commercial spoof, but it’s not terrible — certainly not worthy of being shoved towards the end of the episode.
Jimmy Fallon and Rachel Dratch revisit their Boston characters, this time while they take their daughter on a tour of Harvard. I was never a huge fan of this recurring bit, and this week is no different.
My favorite sketch that did not involve Melissa McCarthy was this, the last bit of the night, in which two background actors ruin the scene by being total spazzes. Why was this so late in the episode?
I am going to be 100% honest with you: I am only putting these Harry Styles videos in here in the hopes of glomming onto any accidental hits from his fans. (Although I didn’t hate “Sign of the Times,” if I am being honest with myself.)
“Sign of the Times”
“Ever Since New York”
Final grade: C+
Next week: Rerun.
Saturday Night Live airs at 10:30/11:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC.