‘Saturday Night Live’: Jason Bateman? More like Jason GREATMAN! (I am so sorry.)

Saturday Night Live
Jason Bateman & Morgan Wallen
December 5, 2020

It’s a holiday miracle, y’all! Saturday Night Live finally — FINALLY — managed to deliver an episode that did not rely on a single misogynistic, homophobic or racist joke!

In fact, the entire episode was solid from start to finish, including a Kyle Mooney sketch that I didn’t hate! I don’t know if it was just that the writers needed that three-week break to recharge or if they were particularly inspired by the holidays or if Jason Bateman was just a great host to write for, but whatever it was, it worked and they need to bottle this magic formula.

Rudy Giuliani and his “star witness” at the Michigan state senate hearings on election fraud, one Melissa Carone, deserve writing credits for this week’s cold open, as these two wackadoos essentially performed a live SNL sketch on Wednesday. Carone was so ridiculous that everyone who saw her testimony had the same thought: this woman is a Cecily Strong character.

And I will say that I saw a number of people suggesting that Kate McKinnon would portray Carone, but come on: 1. this is obviously Cecily Strong’s The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party in a blond wig and glasses and 2. someone has to play Tooty Rudy.

For the most part, the sketch is great and captures what a clown show these hearings and public relations stunts have been. I will say that the Nicole Kidman in The Undoing bit didn’t work. I get that they wanted to make fun of her terrible not-even-trying accent, and it’s not joke enough for an entire sketch, but it felt wedged in and not the place for it. (Alternative suggestion: Nicole Kidman in The Undoing could have visited the “Weekend Update” desk this week.)

The rest of it though? With the My Pillow guy and the ballot-eater and Rudy loudly farting and the lunatics who want to kidnap the governor? It pretty much accurately reflects — almost to the point of not being satire — the last few weeks since the election.

Grade: A

Jason Bateman’s monologue is a story about the last time he hosted — 15 years ago — when he was assaulted by a chimpanzee during the goodnights. So a few things about this: it’s a well-told story with a dark punchline that only Bateman could deliver; despite his claim that no one seemed to care that his face was nearly eaten by a chimpanzee, Rachel Dratch is CLEARLY horrified; and why the hell hasn’t Bateman been back in 15 years, LORNE? 15 YEARS?

Now, maybe I’m biased because I’ve been a devoted fan of Bateman’s since 1982 (though my true falling-in-love moment came in 1984 with the criminally underappreciated sitcom, It’s Your Move), but I just don’t understand how Bateman, an incredibly talented comedic actor who has had plenty of projects to promote over the past 15 years (Ozark, Arrested Development, The Outsider, Juno, Horrible Bosses [1 & 2], Bad Words, The Gift, and Couples Retreat just to name a few) hasn’t been back to host until now. Did he do something to insult Lorne Michaels? Did the chimp have friends in high places? What happened?

Grade: A-

The first post-monologue sketch of the night finds a father asking his daughter’s friends about a situation in which one of them accidentally left period blood on the couch and then tried to cover it up with disastrous results. If this feels familiar, it’s because it’s basically a repeat of a sketch they did when Adam Driver hosted earlier this year. And it’s fine — it gives Bateman a chance to do his straight-man thing to much better effect than Adam Driver (who is kinda hard to believe is an earnest dad to a middle schooler, let’s be honest).

Grade: B

In what is one of the best sketches of the night, Pete Davidson plays Stu, a deranged fan of Santa Claus, who sends increasingly more hysterical letters demanding a Play Station 5. It’s obviously a spoof of Eminem’s classic, “Stan,” and despite the fact that it’s making fun of a song that is 16 years old now, it works? Davidson is PERFECT as Eminem/Stu, Bowen Yang — somehow — works as Elton John, and they manage to stick the landing twice: once with Santa’s response and then with the surprise appearance by Eminem himself. Well done all the way around.

Grade: A+

Bowen Yang and Cecily Strong are over-the-top cabaret singers who, accompanied by Bateman on the keyboard, perform in an outdoor setting. I guess this is supposed to make fun of businesses trying to deal with the COVID restrictions, but it feels like Strong and Yang looking for an excuse to sing on the show. But! I will give Bateman’s bitchy accompanist points — there is something about the whole bit that reminds me of Bill Murray’s smarmy cabaret singer sketches from the early days of Saturday Night Live and I suppose that counts for something.

Grade: B-

It should be noted that I live five blocks from my mother and father, but I feel this sketch. I feel it in MY BONES.

Grade: A+

So, you might not remember this, but tonight’s musical guest, Morgan Wallen, was originally scheduled to appear as the musical guest on Bill Burr’s episode, back in early October. However, dummy here went to a bar and a party near the University of Alabama, and his antics were posted all over social media — THE WEEK HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE ON SNL. His performance was canceled, Jack White replaced him, and he delivered some amazing performances and a lovely tribute to Eddie Vedder.

But Lorne Michaels isn’t a cruel man, and lo, he invited Wallen to return this week to be the musical guest, presumably on the condition that he not make out with any coeds. And that’s what this entire sketch is about: making fun of Wallen being a dumbass and getting kicked off the show. Wallen appears as himself at a bar the week he was originally set to perform, where he is visited by two visions of his future self as played by Jason Bateman and Bowen Yang, both of whom warn him to not be stupid. A well-executed bit of meta comedy, it’s funny enough, but more than that, it gives both Wallen and Bateman opportunities to poke fun at themselves, and demonstrate that they can take a joke. 

Grade: A-

“Weekend Update” is, again, strong this week, going after Trump for perpetuating nonsense conspiracy theories, delivering a very wicked Jared and Ivanka joke, and Che’s jokes about the vaccine are terrific. But my favorite joke is Jost’s about Hamilton. I won’t give it away, but I appreciate that Jost has relaxed enough to allow himself to make fun of his Whiteness. And he is very Whiteness.

Grade: A+

The first visitor to the “Weekend Update” desk is Pete Davidson who addresses the lockdown protests in Staten Island and the Etsy vibrator that … oh lordt … has his face on it. Davidson is always pretty good at self-deprecating humor, but this week’s entry is particularly funny.

Grade: A

Teen film critic, Bailey Gismert reviews some 90s classics, including Forrest Gump, American Beauty, and Silence of the Lambs, and her not incorrect take is, “YOU CAN’T DO THAT ANYMORE!” 

Grade: B+

I feel like there is a germ of an idea in this sketch about a socially distanced visit to the mall Santa Claus, but it never really comes together. It’s a very physical sketch, but it doesn’t go big enough, if that makes any sense. It’s funny-ish that Santa and Mrs. Claus roll around in their giant bubbles, but it seems like they could have done more with the conceit and that something was left on the table.

Grade: C+

In the final sketch of the night, Kyle Mooney plays a Kyle Mooney, hanging out with his guy friends and trying — and failing — to riff on the jokes they’re sharing. It’s awkward and deeply relatable for anyone who has ever, in an attempt to fit in, blurted something out that makes absolutely no sense the second it leaves your mouth.

I see you, Kyle Mooney. I see you.

Grade: A-

Final Grade: A-.

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

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