Carey Mulligan is a very talented actress who has a list of notable film credits that goes back more than 15 years, and yet if you asked me to name two movies that she has been in, I’m afraid I would only be able to come up with the film for which she has recently been nominated an Oscar, A Promising Young Woman. Now, I’ve seen her in The Great Gatsby, and Drive, and Pride and Prejudice, and some of Shame, and did you know she was also in the classic Doctor Who episode “Blink?” BECAUSE SHE WAS. And I’m sure this is just a me problem, but for whatever damn reason, I just completely blanked on all of those roles.
I suspect this is the problem of a particular kind of actress, the ones who are so talented they completely disappear into their roles. And she even sort of alludes to this in her monologue, joking that people commonly mistake her for Michelle Williams (who is also one of the most talented actresses of her generation, for the record, it’s hardly an insult). On last night’s Saturday Night Live, Mulligan showed off this chameleon-like quality, playing everything from an actress in a lesbian period drama, to a spoiled Star Trek crew member, to a woman trapped in a nightmarish pharmaceutical ad. And for someone who is known for her dramatic chops, she demonstrated terrific comedic range in all of her sketches — even the duds. Let’s get Mulligan in some more comedies, guys (and I’m sure I’ll forget she was in those one day, too).
Daniel Kaluuya isn’t exactly a household name here in the States, but after last night’s Saturday Night Live, I’m thinking he could be. The Get Out actor is handsome, charming and, it turns out, very funny. It’s always fun to see actors who are recognized for their serious roles be able to pull off comedy — and Kaluuya is a very recognized actor, having won a Golden Globe just this year, and been nominated for the second time by the Academy. Despite all that Serious Actor heft, Kaluuya was light on his feet last night, an engaging host who had great chemistry with the cast. Let’s hope he’ll be back.
Saturday Night Live has been on hiatus for a month (a well-earned break, honestly) and I was a little worried the gears would be a little rusty when they returned this week. It was a fear that wasn’t entirely unfounded: the cold open was off, the monologue was off, the sketch that was clearly supposed to be the cold open but was so stiff and unfunny that they buried it mid-episode was waaay off. However, the show was helmed by a consummate professional, former cast member, and sketch legend, Maya Rudolph, who saved a number of bits and tried her very damnedest to salvage a few otherwise unsalvagable others (specifically those mentioned above).
That said, I don’t want to come off too harsh. Despite some weak spots, this episode was fairly solid and had bright spots that did not rely on a vet to prop them up. Notably, Bowen Yang’s heartfelt plea to stop anti-Asian hate, and a music video that reminds us that Boomers will always shove their way to the front of the line were bits that did not depend on Rudolph and I think were moments that we will remember long after this season ends. All in all, the positive outweighed the negative in this episode; a mixed bag if you will, which honestly is the best you can hope for in a variety show that is made up of 12-14 individual sketches an episode. Good job, kids.