Natalie Portman hosts a roller coaster of a ‘Saturday Night Live’

Saturday Night Live
Natalie Portman & Dua Lipa
February 4, 2018

Natalie Portman returned to host Saturday Night Live for the first time since 2006, and she was given exactly two very good sketches, a bunch of mediocre crap, and one sketch that was so bad, I think there is a chance it might have been intended as a meta joke on bad sketches. That or it literally needs to be hung up in the Worst Sketches of All Time hall of fame because oh my God it was that bad.

So bad.

Just … terrible.

Like, did they have a bunch of fourth graders visit the studio and then did they invite them to write a sketch and then they felt like they had to perform it because they didn’t want to disappoint a bunch of little kids?

Is one of the lesser writers dying of cancer and this was his dying wish, to have this sketch performed?

Were there terrorists in the building, holding a gun to Lorne Michaels’ head and forcing the show to do this sketch?

Is Saturday Night Live being used as a vehicle to disseminate secret messages to our spies abroad and this sketch was an important code to ensure global security?

Or did the writers think the sketch was so stupid as to come back around to being funny?

Because if so, they were sorely mistaken. Woof.

We begin with a spoof of Fox & Friends, which they haven’t done in a while. While it starts off well enough with Hope Hicks describing what it’s like working in the White House, and the right finding someone who agrees with them about the FBI: Louis Farrakhan, Alec Baldwin’s Trump shows up at the end and grinds the whole thing to a halt. And if Alex Baldwin wasn’t unfunny enough, they don’t do the best part of any Fox & Friends spoof: the corrections. What is this garbage? I am not here for a Fox & Friends spoof sans corrections, do not waste my time.

Grade: B-

Natalie Portman’s monologue in which she is critiqued by the cast as if she is in the Olympics is fine — it’s funny enough — but considering how much the cast overtakes the monologue, it’s the kind of bit that probably should be reserved for a host the writers don’t trust.

Grade: B+

This Revolutionary War sketch — which is really about the Super Bowl — was something of a roller coaster. It starts off as a one-joke bit: the Boston victors at the Battle of Bunker Hill are insufferable bad winners that everyone else in the colonies hate for their smugness. And I and the rest of the country can TOTALLY get behind that. But the joke wore thin pretty quickly, even with the Rachel Dratch cameo, and my patience was being tried. At the last moment, in swoops Tina Fey and the Philadelphians, with Tina rocking the world’s greatest Philly accent and suddenly this becomes one of the best sketches of the season. What can’t Tina Fey do?

One note: I suspect Kenan Thompson’s dreadful Philly accent — and it is TERRIBLE — is an inside joke among the cast and writers about no one being able to do a proper Philly accent, similar to the Weekend Update bit Fey did with Jimmy Fallon last season. (As someone married to a Philadelphian, I am here to tell you that if you’re not from Philly it is impossible to get that accent right. That, and making the Philadelphian in your life say certain words [orange, water, gas, Oregon, Florida] is a never-ending source of amusement).


The premise of this Stranger Things bit was to point out that Millie Bobby Brown and Natalie Portman look alike that the other kids that were experimented on also have weird side effects to their powers like farting or falling into a two-day coma. ~shrug~

Grade: C+

As if we were going to get through this episode without another Natalie Portman rap (and Andy Samberg showing up). As if.

Grade: A+

Colin Jost’s “Passion of the Christ” joke, though.

Grade: A

Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve stop by the Weekend Update desk to defend their position on the #MeToo movement, but mostly it’s an excuse for Kate McKinnon to break out one of her daffy old lady characters. I’m not mad about it.

Grade: B+

Pete Davidson shares a story about making an ad for Dockers which is much funnier than it has any business being.

Grade: A-

And then there’s Willie.

Grade: C+

Here is a list of every “TGS” sketch on 30 Rock. (You’re welcome.) All of them sound more mature, more thought-out and funnier than this god-awful never-ending bit in which — literally — an alien’s butt is his face and his face is his butt. And one of those “TGS” sketches was just: “Farting Machine.”

Grade: F

In this bit, one of the perky hosts of the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards orange carpet has lost her voice, which is a dumb idea for a sketch, and yet it works OK?

Grade: B

I don’t know how they did it, but they managed to make a sketch about Melania Trump talking to Jackie Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Martha Washington and Michelle Obama painfully boring and not funny.

Grade: C-

In the last sketch of the night, three conventionally attractive young women talk to a less attractive woman about dating and how they need to take charge of their sex lives. It’s not great, but Aidy Bryant really leans into her Bunny character.

Grade: B

Seriously. Tracy Jordan as the alien, you can see that.

Final Grade: A HARD B-.

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

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