‘Saturday Night Live’ was one big Timothée Chala-meh

Saturday Night Live
Timothée Chalamet & Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
December 11, 2020

I don’t have any feelings one way or another about Timothée Chalamet. Looking over his IMDb, it seems I’ve only seen one movie where he has a big role, and though he was in Homeland, I have no memory of him, maybe because it was 8 years ago. The point being, I went into this episode of Saturday Night Live something of a blank slate at least where his performance was concerned.

And from what I can tell, the Saturday Night Live writers weren’t sure what to expect of him either. They filled the night with safe sketches, and implemented the buddy system, placing him literally shoulder-to-shoulder with Pete Davidson three separate times.

But honestly, they needn’t have worried. Chalamet was clearly enjoying himself, and though he’s not the most natural comic actor, he held his own, mostly through enthusiasm. And frankly, he did the best he could with the material he was given. I went to bed irritated with this episode, convinced it was terrible. I rewatched the episode in the cold light of morning and came away merely disappointed. It wasn’t terrible, it was just middling. Is it that the writers have already blown through whatever energy they had last week, or are they looking to be inspired by a host they know they can trust, like maybe Kristen Wiig next week? Let’s hope it’s the latter.

The cold open is just Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx discussing the vaccine, how Dr. Fauci is an unexpected sex symbol, and how desperate Birx is to get a job with the Biden administration and restore her reputation after decimating it in support of President Inject ‘Em with Bleach. It’s thoroughly mediocre. But hey! It features neither Baldwin’s Trump nor Carrey’s Biden, so it goes in the win column.

Grade: B-

Despite a name and a face that would suggest Timothée Chalamet is a Parisian street urchin, he was actually born and raised in Hell’s Kitchen, which is what his monologue is about. Pete Davidson joins him late in the bit to double down on his Staten Island insults, after last week’s “Weekend Update” pissed off some of his home borough’s more sensitive residents. Good for him.

Grade: B

OK, so the concept here is that COVID-19 are … people? Whose job it is … to infect people? It’s basically an excuse to make a bunch of terrible virus jokes: their daughter home from college took out an entire dorm; their son who is a disappointment to the family is the strain that failed to infect New Zealand; their friends are The Herpes: Oral and Genital or “Gen” for short. Look, I know it’s hard to be funny about a crushingly dangerous pandemic that has killed 300,000 Americans in nine months, but this ain’t it, y’all.

Grade: C+

Fun little personal fact about yours truly: despite my inability to do the maths, for some reason, I’m trusted with all the day-to-day family finances. I pay the bills, I make sure money goes into savings, I manage the bank accounts. And that’s why I always find the luxury car commercials that inevitably arrive at this time of year in which a husband — and it’s usually a husband — gifts his wife a vehicle for Christmas so baffling. I know this sounds insane, but if my husband gave me a Lexus for Christmas, I’d be FURIOUS. Excuse me? You just went out and bought me a $50,000 car? Without discussing it with me first? How did you finance it? What’s the length of the loan? What’s the payment schedule? What’s the APR?  And why on EARTH did you just go out and buy a car for me that I might not even enjoy driving since I DIDN’T GET A CHANCE TO TEST DRIVE IT BEFORE YOU HANDED OVER A DOWN PAYMENT?

It appears someone else has had the exact same thoughts and thus, this sketch. I enjoyed it until I didn’t because this being Saturday Night Live, they had to drag out a 30-second gem of an idea into a three-minute slog of a sketch.

Grade: B+

For those of you who wisely avoid Twitter, singer and legend Miss Dionne Warwick has found her way onto the platform recently and it’s been DELIGHTFUL. She made fun of Chance the Rapper and The Weeknd’s names, got into a fight with Wendy Williams, and she keeps making refernce to Maya Rudolph’s portrayal of her which just gives me joy.

She’s amazing.

The idea behind this sketch is: what if Dionne Warwick had a talk show that was exactly like her Twitter account, in which she does not know who young stars like Harry Styles (as portrayed by Timothée Chalamet) and Timothée Chalamet (as portrayed by Chloe Fineman) are — and she does not give a single solitary fuck.

But my favorite moment is at the end of the show, Ms. Warwick urges her guests to look under their seats. When they complain there’s nothing there, she responds, “I don’t owe you anything.”

Same energy:

Grade: A

In this digital sketch, a young man laments that he has to free his “tiny horse” when his family has to sell their farm.

Things I typed in my notes while I watched this, typos included:

“what is happeng”


“im justmad”


Grade: D

“Weekend Update” covers Trump’s continued loss of the election, and how he continues to milk his supporters for money. Che delivers a solid joke about Texas, but otherwise, it just feels a little lacking in energy? I don’t know, maybe the writers are as exhausted by this political cycle as the rest of us are, but this week’s “Weekend Update” felt tired this week.

Grade: B+

Kate McKinnon brings back Dr. Wenowdis, which is a one-joke bit, and not one that bears repeating.

Grade: C

Melissa Villaseñor does a Dolly Parton impersonation all the while protesting that she is not doing a Dolly Parton impersonation. That’s it. That’s the joke.

Grade: C

SNL has done the “Baking Championship” sketches before (with Don Cheadle and Eddie Murphy, to be exact), in which competitors’ concepts fail to live up to reality and occasionally devolve into the literally monstrous. But I’m pretty sure they dusted this bit off after someone saw these cakes bouncing around the internet (specifically the third one):

Dear America: please stick to pies for Thanksgiving.

Anyway, just like the last two times they’ve done this sketch, it works. It’s dumb! It’s juvenile! It’s full of dick and poop jokes! But sue me: sometimes dick and poop jokes work.

Grade: A-

Questlove guest stars in this bit in which he and Queen Latifah are on a roundtable discussing hip hop wiht a pair of younger, whiter, and dumber rappers who say “yeet” a lot and claim they were inspired by the Kia hamsters. And look — I get it, I dislike a lot of TikTok rap myself, because I’m an old. But it’s kind of hilarious to watch a music genre that was once considered very dangerous enter the “get off my lawn” stage. And let’s not pretend rap and hip hop has always been about some bigger message or about poetry. I was there for “The Thong Song,” “Make ‘Em Say Ugh,” and “Aww Skeet Skeet,” so enough with the pearl-clutching.

Grade: B

In the final sketch of the night, Newsmax, which is a real news (“news”) channel that is to the right of Fox News and which has been perpetrating the lie that Trump could still … somehow … maybe thorugh magic beans? … win this election, launches a sports channel, Sportsmax, in which the Jets are a winning NFL team. Commentators cast doubt on “experts” like the NFL, claim that late quarter points don’t count and the game is rigged, and wave around “sworn affidavits” from Jets fans who swear they saw the Jets win, etc. It’s a clever indictment of the absurdity of the ongoing coup attemp being perpetrated by the President of the United States and his followers and easily the best political bit of the night.

Grade: A-

Final Grade: B-, pretty close to a C+ but Dionne Warwick came in for the save.

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

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