Scarlett Johansson steers a wildly uneven ‘Saturday Night Live’

Saturday Night Live
Scarlett Johansson & Niall Horan
December 14, 2019

I am not coming for Scarlett Johansson. This is her sixth time hosting Saturday Night Live, she knows what she is doing, and for a gorgeous starlet who is probably best known for her superhero role in the Avengers films, she has good comic timing and is always game for whatever the show will throw at her.

So you would think that as the fiancee of the head writer, she’d enjoy some really well-written sketches. You’d think very wrong! This week’s Saturday Night Live was a mess of mediocre sketches punctuated with some genuinely terrible ones. And the saving grace of the night was a commercial spoof that Johansson wasn’t even in. It’s not that the episode was TERRIBLE, it was just so not-good medium. So medium. Listen: you’ve got a lot of negotiating power, Scarlett Johansson. Don’t let Jost do this to you again.

The cold open features a trio of families discussing the impeachment over the holidays: a liberal white family in San Francisco, a conservative white family in South Carolina, and an African-American family in Atlanta, Georgia who are pretty sure Trump will be impeached and then win re-election because white people are still going to vote for him. So why bother worrying about it? It’s a clever conceit for a sketch that stumbles over timing and technical issues (in fact, I think the video they posted on YouTube must have been from the dress rehearsal or something because it is much more smooth and less awkward than the live version I watched on Saturday). And also, too, why Greta Thunberg at the end? What was that?

Grade: A-

Scarlett Johansson’s opening monologue is a whole Avengers Thanos thing and it is too long and it is not particularly funny. But hey! She acknowledged her relationship with Colin Jost, so there’s that.

Grade: B-

Kenan Thompson and Scarlett Johansson play two mall elves who sing inappropriate songs about Santa and Mrs. Claus. Bowan Yang and Beck Bennett are the actual stars of this mediocre bit.

Grade: B

A Macy’s ad that tells it like it REALLY is with kids and winter clothes. This is the best bit of the night — possibly of the season. Whoever wrote this definitely has children, and I FEEL SEEN.

Grade: A+++

In this sketch, the Vice President of Sales and the front desk guy at a company apologize to their co-workers for their inappropriate behavior at the office holiday party. The workers are ready to string Scarlett Johansson’s Vice President character up for the things she said, but all think Kenan Thompson’s front desk guy is adorable despite saying and doing horrible things. I don’t know, man.

Grade: C+

OK, so there’s this movie on Netflix right now called A Marriage Story — in fact, it’s what Scarlett Johansson is promoting with this appearance — in which she plays the wife in a marriage that is falling apart. So, this is like that, but with George and Kellyanne Conway.

Grade: A-

“Weekend Update” opens with a joke about how Trump is going to win re-election, the second — but not last! — joke to that effect of the night. It doesn’t go over well. Che making a Bill Cosby joke seems like dangerous territory, but he manages to pull it off. The Weinstein joke … not so much.

Grade: B

I, for one, love Bowan Yang’s sassy Chinese Trade Representative Chen Biao.

Grade: A


Grade: D

In this bit, the ghosts of two strippers haunt a hot tub and sing a song about how they drowned on quaaludes. I have no idea what this is about other than getting Scarlett Johansson into a bathing suit.

Grade: C-

The Hallmark Dating Show is exactly what you think it is: a spoof of the stereotypical characters in Hallmark Christmas movies, including the big city girl who has forgotten the magic of Christmas; the guy who works at a Christmas tree farm; the generically European prince; Santa in disguise; and the tertiary black character who doesn’t have a name or backstory. This should have been funnier than it was, but that said, the timing with the whole Hallmark/lesbian kiss commercial scandal, could not have been better.

Grade: B

“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” except really dark and kinky.

Grade: B-

In his high-concept sketch that absolutely does not work, the couple who were the models for the Heimlich Maneuver poster go to a restaurant where they are regarded as celebrities by the kitchen staff. A solid nope on this one.

Grade: D

A scientist invents a machine that can read dogs’ thoughts, and the dog that they demonstrate it on is a Fox News viewer who — get this — jokes that Trump is going to be re-elected. Guys? Is everything OK over at Rockefeller Center? I mean, I get being worried that the impeachment might backfire politically for the Democrats, and the polling was looking a little dodgy there, but buck up. Impeaching the fucker is the right thing to do no matter how it turns out!

Also, I guess you guys paid an upfront dog rental fee this season, but it’s fine to go one episode without a dumb dog sketch, I promise.

Grade: D-

Final Grade: B-. Y’all were saved by that Macy’s ad.

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

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