Saturday Night Live
Pete Davidson, Ice Spice
October 14, 2023
Pete Davidson was scheduled to host Saturday Night Live last season on May 6 — he had a new Peacock series coming out, Bupkis, later that month and it would be the former SNL cast member’s first time hosting. It would also be the most screen time he’d ever have on a single episode.
But then the writers’ strike began four days before the episode would air, and everyone would have to wait five months — and one failed Peacock series — for SNL to return and for Pete Davidson to prove he could sustain an entire episode based on his stoner dude persona.
Yeah, he couldn’t quite sustain an entire episode on his stoner dude persona.
Last night’s season 49 premiere episode demonstrated a great deal of dustiness on the writers’ part after so many months away; an uncertainness on how to handle political humor in the midst of an international crisis; and a lack of confidence on the part of the host despite having been a cast member for eight seasons.
THAT SAID, there were a number of bright spots, including how the show handled addressing the Israeli crisis, and Pete Davidson’s unshakable ability to laugh at his own persona. It’s literally his superpower (well, along with his B.D.E.) (come on, we’re all thinking it).
It was always going to be hard to strike the right note for Saturday Night Live‘s return this week: the show was delayed by about three weeks thanks to the writers’ strike, and once the show was ready to go, a horrific war broke out in Israel. A wacky cold open featuring Former President Mushroom Dick saying wacky things just wasn’t going to land right.
Instead, SNL made a brave choice: a brief statement from host Pete Davidson, who knows better than anyone what terrorism and violence do to the innocents, having lost his father in 9/11 when he was only 7 years old. His comments were heartfelt, insightful, and gave the audience permission to laugh in the midst of horror. Genuinely, for a show like SNL, this could not have been more poetic.
Pete’s monologue, on the other hand … eesh. He discusses watching Game of Thrones with his sister and being uncomfortable with all the incest before telling a weird story about a former hookup that ends on a very dark note. The stand-up thing might not be his strongest suit.
The first sketch of the season tackles the whole Taylor Swift/Travis Kelce romance and how it’s impacting the NFL, the joke being that all the NFL commentators are secret Swifties. It’s fine, and from what I’ve seen, actual Swifites were delighted by the sketch, noting that it seemed to have been written by actual fans as it poked fun at them without being malicious.
Calling her blondie? The "N1 and N2" mentions? The surprise songs?
I always forget that there are actual swifties working in that SNL writing room 😅 https://t.co/gViJlRn6YV
— Carine Eras Tour Tickets SECURED (@CarineK) October 15, 2023
wait bye bc why is this snl skit the most accurate representation of swifties i’ve seen yet 😭😭 they gagged us pic.twitter.com/3gk8ggxuup
— eliza !! ⸆⸉ (@tiisthedamnszn) October 15, 2023
an snl skit about swifties that poked fun at us without bashing us in a misogynistic way???? oh we’re finally living in the best timeline
— shannon (s 1989 TV!!!) (@holygroundsound) October 15, 2023
And spoiler alert: Travis Kelce makes a quick cameo, as he and Taylor were there for the show — she introduced Ice Spice’s second performance.
The best sketch of the night requires you to know a little something about Pete Davidson’s personal life, which isn’t difficult as the media is completely obsessed with it. And for good reason: he’s dated a string of some of the most famous and beautiful women in the world. Somehow. Bringing together his notoriety with the summer’s biggest hit, Barbie, was a no-brainer, and yet nothing about this feels obvious.
In this bit, the cast of a made-up Marvel movie answers questions generated by the most popular internet searches associated with them, and Pete’s character’s questions all suggest he was the individual who had explosive diarrhea on the Delta flight last month. It’s just one long bit of potty humor.
I don’t even know what to say about this sketch in which Heidi Gardner plays a 1960s-era secretary who anticipates her bosses’ needs, except for when she doesn’t. It ends with her smashing into her desk and her top flying off. Was this a leftover script from 1976?
The Please Don’t Destroy boys are back and reminiscing with Pete Davidson about being child standups; the joke here being that these three very white boys were Def Comedy Jam comedians when they were 10. Bonus John Mulaney cameo.
Weekend Update takes on the situation in the Middle East in the most diplomatic way possible: making fun of everyone else’s hot takes. They also tackle Bob Menendez, George Santos, and the chaos in the House Speaker fight. Also, Che springs on Colin Jost the first joke swap of the season and it’s pretty solid.
In honor of
Christopher Columbus Indigenous People’s Day, Bowen Yang plays the explorer who is confused as to why there even are statues of him here in the States.
Dion Sanders also stops by the Weekend Update desk to talk about his coaching gig at the University of Colorado, and to remind us of that one time he was a musical guest on SNL. Yes, that really happened.
And then the show goes completely off the cliff.
First, there is a sketch that takes place on a Star Trek-like command deck, where the operations are interrupted by a former employee played by Bowen Yang, who keeps repeating, “Hi, I’m Marley. I used to work here.” Genuinely, the funniest thing about this sketch is that they set it in 2044, which is only 21 years from now, and which I thought was going to be the punchline. But nope.
The next hot mess is a bit that takes place on a beach where a bunch of friends are spending the day. Andrew Dismukes’s character has been buried in the sand by his friends, and given sand boobs. When a tragedy strikes, Dismukes doesn’t want to leave the beach until someone takes a photo of him. Somehow this goes on for four solid minutes.
The one bright(er) point in the back half is this ad for “Glamgina,” makeup for “your other face” so that your “snatch can look snatched.” And look, guys might not quite get it, but this very dumb sketch does touch upon the insecurities that women are taught to feel about their lady bits. Is it crass? Yep. Deal with it.
The final sketch of the night features Dismukes and Davidson as characters in a rural bar, bragging about how much money they make by posting foot pics on the internet. It somehow ends up being a Cheesecake Factory ad?
Y’all, are we absolutely positive the writers came back?
Final Grade: C+.
Saturday Night Live airs at 10:30/11:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC and streams on Peacock.