Saturday Night Live works best when it attempts to capture the zeitgeist. No one is better at capturing that right now than Miley Cyrus, so, the two together should have delivered an exceptional episode – that was not the case. Last night’s episode was very safe; it felt like the episode – the writers in particular – feared going there. Which, fine, as Miley is a little overexposed right now and maybe she too wanted to play it safe (who here is surprised she didn’t rip up a picture of Sinead? Because I am). The episode last night worked best when it captured the moment: the cold-open brought the most laughs of the night, and the We Can’t Stop parody was perfect (government + pop culture = SNL gold). While the episode might not have lived up to my expectations, or it’s own potential, it made two things very clear: Taran Killam is very much Will Ferrell’s successor and Miley Cyrus may not be a comedienne in the vein of Emma Stone, or be a clear favourite like Jennifer Lawrence, but she is just as capable.
The Cold Open: Again, it worked really well. Miley got the entire VMA thing out of the way while Lorne was able to make it a little political because, obviously. If Vanessa Bryer is doing her Miley, I’m laughing. If Jay Pharoah is a) being used a lot and b) doing his Will Smith, I’m happy and laughing. And Miley delivered he dialogue well and brought some laughs. Solid cold opening.
Monologue: I don’t care if you don’t like Miley Cyrus, that’s not the point and if you don’t, that’s a tired arguement anyway. You can think she’s annoying, fine, I’m with you there. You can think she’s try-hard, for sure. BUT, she is clearly talented (her acoustic set of We Can’t Stop was fantastic, as was her Wrecking Ball performance) but she is also very capable. Again, she isn’t the second coming of whoever – but she’s hosted twice now and while this episode wasn’t exceptional, is was 10x better than Jennifer Lawrence’s who is someone you would have thought would have lent her personality and skill to this format a lot better than Miley Cyrus.
The monologue was short and sweet and Bobby on the wrecking ball almost killed me. She said most of what she would’ve said in her monologue in her cold open, so I’m not surprised it was so short. But again: her delivery was great. At the end of the day, she may not land jokes like the best of them but when she can, she does it with a certain spark. It’s not skill but it’s the earnestness of it all. She will win you over – somehow.
Best Sketches: The 50 Shades tape piece is the standout, of course. Is it lazy, getting all the actors to do their impressions? Sure, but it’s always fun and I always love watching them do their thing. Taran’s Christoph Waltz was brilliant and, my God, is he a star. I love him so much. Kate’s Tilda Swinton was equally brilliant. I love her just as much and she’s just as much of a star. Miley’s ScarJo was better than I had expected. And newcomer Noel Wells is really making some headway and we’re only two episodes into this season. Her Emma Stone was on point. She’s made more of an impact in two episodes than Aidy Bryant has her entire time.
The We Can’t Stop parody was fun. AGAIN: Taran Killam just killed it this episode. He was fearless in the parody and I loved it.
I liked the Cheer Squad sketch. It was one of those classic, weird, silly sketches. Completely forgettable but in the moment, it’s not bad. I also enjoyed the Mornin’ Miami sketch. I thought Miley held her own in that one, and Kate and Bobby both killed it. I wish it wasn’t so typically repetitive but it was fine.
Worst Sketches: The Girlfriends Talk Show sketch is just the worst. It does nothing for no one. Miley was left to her own devices. Aidy and Cecily are better than the sketch. It’s just not funny and it’s not like I’m missing the point: I get it, and it sucks.