Even Emma Stone can’t save this ‘Saturday Night Live’ (though she tries her best)

Saturday Night Live
Emma Stone & BTS
April 13, 2019

Emma Stone is so charming, so good-natured (or at least seemingly so), so up for anything, that she makes even weak material better with her sheer pluck. That said, “better” isn’t “good,” and as I’ve said about countless other episodes, Emma Stone deserved better than whatever this mess of an episode was. Sure, there were a pair of good sketches that I might fondly remember at the end of this season (but not by the beginning of the next) but there were many more clunkers and sketches that were just flat-out terrible that I feel genuinely sorry for our host.

I am sure Stone will return soon enough to claim that Five Timers Club jacket — the show clearly loves her and trusts her. I just hope when she returns they give her material worthy of her.

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‘Saturday Night Live’: Maybe comedy just isn’t Kit Harington’s thing?

Saturday Night Live
Kit Harington & Sara Bareilles
April 6, 2019

Kit Harington is perfect as Game of Thrones‘ Jon Snow. The role mostly consists of brooding, wearing a heavy coat and rocking a beard, and at those things, Harington is one of the best. However, as it turns out, these skills do not translate easily to comedy as we learned on last night’s weak Saturday Night Live. I rooting for Harington to pull it off, but, unfortunately, he was stiff and unsure, and at moments clearly uncomfortable performing in front of a live audience. Also, there was the matter of his American accent which … oof.

I don’t mean to blame Harington for this mediocre episode — the writing was dreadful, with concepts either ridiculously simplistic (“nerds are nerdy!” “a doctor who is about to perform a rectal exam has long fingernails!”) or just outright baffling, and he really didn’t stand much of a chance. That said, there were some fun Game of Thrones references, both in Harington’s monologue and in one pretty terrific sketch. But one sketch and a monologue are not enough to carry an entire episode.

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‘Saturday Night Live’ really needed to trust Sandra Oh more

Saturday Night Live
Sandra Oh & Tame Impala
March 30, 2019

I am not sure when I learned Sandra Oh was funny — I’m not a Grey’s Anatomy viewer, so I’m guessing it was with Sideways? — all I know is that I associate Sandra Oh with being a funny actress. And so Sandra Oh hosting Saturday Night Live should have been a natural fit: she’s funny, she’s game, and if you’ve ever seen a single episode of Killing Eve, you should know that she is going to be able to pull off whatever material you give her. And yet, it felt like Saturday Night Live‘s writers weren’t sure what they could trust Oh with, only giving her a couple of sketches in which she was allowed to play something other than the straight (wo)man. It’s a shame because when she was given more room to demonstrate her comic skills, Oh killed it. Here’s hoping SNL has her back soon enough — and gives her more to work with.

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Idris Elba charms on the ever-rare consistent episode of ‘Saturday Night Live’

Saturday Night Live
Idris Elba & Khalid
March 9, 2019

I KNOW THIS IS LATE AND I AM SORRY. I was on a plane when this episode originally aired, and while I guess I could have watched it on YouTube sometime last week I did not because of reasons. (I didn’t want to.) But I’m here now and am happy to report that last week’s episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by Idris Elba, was a remarkably solid and consistent episode in an otherwise fairly sloppy season.

Idris Elba seemed genuinely thrilled to be hosting, the sketches were (for the most part) clever and none of them dragged on past their welcome, and did I mention the part where Idris Elba was the host? Because honestly, Idris Elba could just stand there being handsome for 90 minutes and it would still be a better episode of Saturday Night Live than the one Halsey hosted.

OOOOH, BURN, EPISODE OF SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE HOSTED BY HALSEY.

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‘Saturday Night Live’: John Mulaney’s Second Chance Theater

Saturday Night Live
John Mulaney &
March 2, 2019

When former Saturday Night Live cast members appear on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Meyers will sometimes do a bit called “Second Chance Theater” in which sketches that the cast members pitched but never made it on air are finally performed. That is what John Mulaney’s hosting gigs for SNL have become: Second Chance Theater for sketches he and his writing partners wrote a decade ago, but never made it on air. And the thing is, it must be deeply gratifying for Mulaney and his fellow writers because as it turns out, these rejected sketches? Far better than most of the crap they put in any given episode.

Last year the rejected sketches were “Diner Lobster” and “Sitcom Reboot,” this year, the rejected sketch involves a toilet. Yes, a toilet, and it is hilarious. Mulaney needs to come back once a season, each time with a rejected sketch — or, better yet, let’s just have him host every week and let him do whatever the hell he wants.

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‘Saturday Night Live’ owes Don Cheadle a better episode

Saturday Night Live
Don Cheadle & Gary Clarke Jr.
February 16, 2019

Look, this was a perfectly fine episode of Saturday Night Live. Let me be clear: that’s not meant as a compliment. With a talent like Don Cheadle hosting, this should have been a very good episode at the least. Cheadle is a funny actor, he’s charming, and game — what more could they ask for? Sadly, the material felt obvious and a bit lazy, as if the writers weren’t really trying. It’s a shame because Cheadle did the most he could with some really flat material and he was easily the best thing about the entire night.

Which leads me to ask: how the hell is this the first time Don Cheadle has hosted Saturday Night Live? Cheadle has been in the business since the 80s, well-known since his BRILLIANT 1997 performance in Boogie Nights, and outright famous since he was nominated for a God damned Academy Award in 2004 for Hotel Rwanda. And he’s just now getting around to hosting long after Lance Armstrong, Paris Hilton, Adam Levine, Michael Phelps, and Ronda Rousey have had their turns? That’s some bullshit right there.

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Halsey, whoever she is, hosts a TERRIBLE ‘Saturday Night Live’ (but that’s not her fault)

Saturday Night Live
Halsey
February 9, 2019

So, this episode of Saturday Night Live, it was not good. With the exception of three sketches I will get to in a moment, last night’s SNL was really not good. The host, Halsey, is very pretty and a decent little actress for someone who is ~checks notes~ a singer? Of popular music? Guess I’ll have to take your word for it. But this episode was bad and Halsey was let down by some straight-up terrible writing. Like, maybe this was the worst episode of the season terrible, and that’s REALLY SAYING SOMETHING, YOU GUYS.

That said, it’s interesting to note that, like I said, there were three good sketches, and that they were all very pointed takes on race issues: “Them Trumps”; the sketch on the appropriate uses of blackface; and the tribute to black performers on SNL were all funny, sharp, and took no prisoners. Considering that it’s been quite the week for race news between Virginia and Liam Neeson and it being Black History Month, I suspect SNL didn’t have much choice but to include so many racially-based sketches. I don’t know how many black writers SNL currently has on its staff, but it can’t hurt that SNL has its first black head writer EVER with Michael Che, and as a result not only were these sketches written, but they were really good. Similarly, it’s not a coincidence that when one of the head writers was a woman a head writer a couple of seasons ago, the female-based sketches that made it on air were really funny and trenchant and for me, a female viewer, very relatable. And what I’m saying is HIRE ANOTHER FEMALE HEAD WRITER, SNL. AND MAYBE SOME MORE PEOPLE OF COLOR AND LADY WRITERS.

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