Regé-Jean Page heats up ‘Saturday Night Live’

Saturday Night Live
Regé-Jean Page & Bad Bunny
February 20, 2020

Though he had been in the cast of the Shonda Rhimes series For the People and the remake of Roots, not many people had taken notice of our host Regé-Jean Page until he starred in the Shondaland series Bridgerton on Netflix which only debuted in December. So it’s a little strange that someone whose name I had to look up when he was announced (and I say that as someone who writes about television every day and who binged Bridgerton), would be hosting Saturday Night Live already: Regé-Jean Page’s hardly a household name.

But it turns out Page is not only good at playing smoldering 19th-century counts in Regency-era London, he’s also a charming comedic actor who seemed to genuinely be enjoying himself on the live stage last night. Last night, Page demonstrated that he is a versatile actor, with great range and a bright future ahead of him. He will be a household name soon enough, I predict.

As for the episode itself, it was fine. There weren’t any sketches that really stood out — for good or bad. It just felt like the writers were coasting on some B-level material. But you know what? Sometimes that’s as much as any of us can give. After the week I’ve had, I’m inclined to cut people a break: so what if they didn’t knock it out of the park? They tried and they didn’t cut anyone’s power or water off in the process and they didn’t just say “fuck it” and got to the Cancun Ritz Carlton, and so I’m proud of everyone involved. Good job, kids.

As we have recently learned, everyone — including you, yes, you — owes Britney Spears an apology. This is the premise of this cold open in which Britney hosts a TV show, “Oops, You Did It Again” where people who need to make public apologies can do so. Aidy Bryant plays a be-braided Ted Cruz fresh from Cancun who apologizes for being bad at “human stuff”; Pete Davidson is a belligerent Governor Andrew Cuomo who refuses to allow Cruz to compare himself to him; and Cecily Strong is an unrepentant Gina Carano who also refuses Cruz to compare himself to her. “You’re a pile of soup,” is a great line that I am going to stash away for future use.

Grade: A-

Some 90 million people have watched Bridgerton, but for those of you who have not, as I explained in the intro, tonight’s host is the breakout star of the first season of the softcore Netflix series which is literally a historical romance novel come to life. On Bridgerton, our handsome host Regé-Jean Page is brooding and dashing, and the fact that we do see a lot of him — literally — has contributed to Page becoming an overnight sex symbol and subject of many a naughty fantasy, as the female cast members demonstrate in his monologue. It’s a fairly obvious direction to take, but it helps introduce Page to those who have not watched Bridgerton, and explain why he’s on the Studio 8H stage (and why their girlfriends are so excited about it).

Grade: B

Ego Nwodin hosts “Actors’ Spotlight” in the next sketch, in which she interviews a trio of Black actors, two of whom are to her surprise British, and the third is Ice Cube who tries to pretend he’s actually British to try to get some of that British cachet for himself. Basically, this is a Kenan Thompson showcase, which is fine.

Grade: B

Ego Nwodin and Pete Davidson star in this rap digital short, “Loco” about people losing their minds from loneliness during this goddamned pandemic. After this week, I am feeling this one hard.

Grade: A-

In this sketch is that a bunch of dude-bros admit their love for the Olivia Rodrigo song “Driver’s License.” See, because she’s a teen girl and it’s an emotional ballad, and men aren’t allowed to have feelings.

And I get this sketch and why people would think it’s funny, but I am in a marriage where I have to tell my husband that if he plays Taylor Swift’s “Folklore” ONE MORE TIME we are getting a divorce, so, you know, I also don’t get it. There are grown men out there who don’t love girl-pop?

Grade: B

It’s the “Mr. Chicken Legs Pageant,” in which a trio of white boys competes to be crowned “Mr. Chicken Legs.” I don’t know, it’s harmless but dumb. “Deeply stupid and yet I can’t look away” is how Page as the host of the pageant describes it, and he’s not entirely wrong.

Grade: B-

In this digital short, Page goes on a job interview to be an art director at an advertising company that has terrible ideas for campaigns. It quickly devolves into absurdity: at one point for reasons I still don’t understand, Page and Beck Bennett begin hitting each other with pool noodles? I don’t know what’s happening here, but I found myself irritated by the end of it.

Grade: C

“Weekend Update” had great fun at Ted Cruz’s expense this week, because who hasn’t? Christ, what an asshole. “If you hate Ted Cruz, this is a pretty fun week. And if you like Ted Cruz, you are Ted Cruz.” TRUER WORDS, MAN. Even his dog hates Ted Cruz. Jost takes a particularly good shot at Cruz wearing a Texas flag face mask on his return, comparing it to Javanka wearing “I ♥ NY” shirts while walking down Fifth Avenue. Indeed.

Grade: A

Pete Davidson joins the desk as a “relationship expert” but mostly talks about how he’s moved out of his mom’s house in Staten Island — finally — because he realized his mom has more cause to Britney Spears him than Spears’ father did, and also to give Colin Jost a hard time. Hey, apparently Jost also grew up on Staten Island? Who knew?

Grade: B+

Heidi Gardner joins the desk to talk about food insecurity but she’s dressed exactly like Freddie Krueger. That’s the entire joke.

Grade: C

By the time I write this, sea shanties will certainly no longer be the viral craze they were on TikTok about two weeks ago, but nevertheless, that’s what this sketch is about. The History Channel presents a reenactment of a crew of sailors singing sea shanties, but the punchline is they are all incompetent at their jobs and complain about getting splinters and seeing ghosts.

Grade: B+

A White family and a Black family become competitive with their dinner graces in this sketch. OK.

Grade: B

Mikey Day and Pete Davidson are intimacy coordinators on the set of Bridgerton in this bit, except they don’t seem to know the show well and keep insisting that it is incest porn and being really inappropriate with their suggestions. Crude, a little obvious, but as someone who hate-binged Bridgerton, I would lie if I said I didn’t think it was kinda funny.

Grade: A-

And we end once again with a Kyle Mooney sketch, in which a trio of would-be rappers attempt to film a video about groceries, except they refuse to wear masks, earning the ire of the store manager, played by Page. And I’m not saying it was terrible — it wasn’t, and watching Page taser Mooney was as titillating as anything on Bridgerton — I’m just saying seeing the inside of a fully-stocked grocery store right now feels like a personal attack.

And to have this sketch be followed at least here in Houston by an Ashley Homestore ad that promises the “snow won’t stop the savings?” TOO SOON.

Grade: B-

Final Grade: B.



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

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