Saturday Night Live
November 16, 2019
Most of the time, I don’t blame the hosts for a shitty show. When an episode of Saturday Night Live is weak, it’s most often the fault of lazy or bad writing. Sometimes a lackluster performance from the cast can doom things — or just way too much Alec Baldwin, that never helps matters — but in large part, the hosts — who are usually actors or comedians — are doing their best with the material they have been given.
The exception makes the rule, so the expression goes, and pop singer and former boy bander, Harry Styles, he is that exception. I don’t want to be too hard on Styles: he seems like a nice enough guy. He’s obviously very handsome and oozes charm; he clearly has a sense of humor and does not take himself seriously. But your boy, he can’t act, much less deliver the comedy. And his inability to act really was the difference in several of these sketches from being kinda funny to straight-up clunkers.
And what I’m saying, SNL, is feel free to invite Harry Styles back as a musical guest, but please please please keep him away from the sketches.
The cold open tackles the complaints from some media outlets that the impeachment hearings weren’t interesting enough and lacked “pizzazz” — which was an actual thing that actual adults said. To spice things up, the hearings become a soap opera, “Days of Our Impeachment.” But not even Jon Hamm as Ambassador Bill Taylor can make this sketch funny, I’m afraid. There’s too much going on and none of it really working. But points for Cecily Strong’s Marie Yovanovitch wig: A+ job, wig department.
Harry Styles’ monologue is just him at a piano, telling jokes. But he’s not a comedian and with the exception of the joke about the cast doing cocaine, the jokes aren’t funny. (Maybe look into more cocaine, guys.)
And did I mention that Harry Styles is a TERRIBLE actor? Because he’s a terrible actor, you guys, and he single-handedly ruins this sketch had potential. The set-up is Styles is an office intern who offers to run out for lunch and pick up 15 Popeye’s chicken sandwiches. The black office workers then have to explain why this is an awful idea. The sketch has a few moments where it feels a little dangerous — not unlike the amazing news sketch when Phoebe Waller-Bridge hosted — and might have worked but for Styles’ awkward, stumbling performance and the final gag that just makes me want to claw my eyes out.
In this very gentle musical number, Joan, she lives alone. But don’t feel sorry for her because her boyfriend is her dog Doug who briefly becomes Harry Styles. I don’t know why or how it works, and I don’t even know that it is funny, per se, but here we are.
Heidi Gardner and Styles are an Icelandic couple in a childbirth class who are having a great time with her pregnancy to the irritation of the other couples. The problem with doing a sketch about irritating characters is that you run the risk of irritating the audience (looking at you, Gilly), which this bit does. That said, this might be Styles’ best performance of the night — he’s clearly enjoying himself here, and seems to even know a line or two.
A pair of airline pilots accidentally leave the P.A. system on and the entire cabin overhears them talking about wanting to have sex with Scooby-Doo characters. They then begin trying to fix the situation, but manage to just make everything much much worse. Question that doesn’t actually have anything to do with the quality of the sketch but did the show get some sort of bulk rate on dogs recently? Am I the only one who thinks it’s weird how many sketches this season have involved dogs? Are they using dogs as a shield because everyone loves dogs?
The second video piece of the night, “That’s the Game,” features Chris Redd as a drug kingpin who has no idea what he’s doing. It’s fine.
“Weekend Update” — the bright spot in the night (well, with the exception of the milk bit, but we’ll get to that) — featured some solid jokes about Trump, Sean Spicer and Michael Che insisting that Colin Jost should be the face of white nationalism.
Kate McKinnon reprises her impersonation of that rodent Jeff Sessions. It’s fine but I’d rather not think about that opossum-hybrid trying to scurry his way back into the political arena.
Kyle Mooney plays Scooter Rineholdt, a milk distributor, who is upset about his company going bankrupt because people aren’t drinking enough milk. It mostly is just Mooney yelling and pouring milk all over himself. Personally, I hated it, but I think mileage may vary.
The guy running the Sara Lee social media accounts is reprimanded for confusing his personal account and the Sara Lee account and leaving inappropriate messages as Sara Lee. I wanted to like this sketch that Bowen Yang and Julio Torres wrote just to make Harry Styles “say queer nonsense,” but Styles was so stiff and unprepared that I found myself gritting my teeth throughout. Still, 2 points for the Julio Torres cameo.
— Bowen Yang 杨伯文 (@bowenyang) November 17, 2019
Cecily Strong plays a vaudevillian actress whose character is way, way, way too young for her to be playing anymore. I will it this: this sketch was high concept.
Hey, remember that band (or “band”) LMFAO? OK, but, like, what if they performed at your Nana’s funeral?
I’m not going to lie, I actually thought this had a moment or three, but it went on too long and was ultimately repetitive. But good on Styles for, however briefly, remembering that he was on a comedy show.
Final Grade: B- but this was really a C+ or even a C.
Saturday Night Live airs at 10:30/11:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC.