SNL opened with, of course, another political cold open last night. But instead of the usual, dry and unfunny type, this one packed an unexpected punch. It was an Obama-centered cold open but this time, for the first time since *I think* Maya Rudolph hosted, Michelle Obama was visible. Thanks to Kerry Washington, of course. The sketch was basically noting that Lorne has read our tweets, our open letters and the interview with Kenan saying he wouldn’t play another black woman again. It wasn’t hilarious but it worked and it let Lorne get all the stuff he needed to address out of the way. Did it solve SNL’s problems? No. Diversity is still needed at the show and desperately, but this is a very small step. A convenient one, but still.
I tweeted last night that I was really excited for the episode and I hope I hadn’t jinxed it. I don’t think I did, but I don’t think it was the standout episode I was hoping for. I think it was better than Ed Norton’s but not the season’s best (Tina, Miley’s). But that doesn’t matter because it did exactly what it needed to do: it showed that Kerry Washington has RANGE. The sketches weren’t particularly good last night but it was her obvious excitement and comittedness (new word, made it up) to the characters that worked so well and made me laugh. This is how SNL can work sometimes: either it’s an exceptional episode because everything is on point or it’s carried (or “kerried” rather, amiright? #nailedit) by the hosts exuberance. The latter is how last night’s worked and there is nothing wrong with that.
The Monologue: Nothing too special but Kerry nailed the jokes and it got the necessary Scandal reference out of the way. Some fans are complaining because they didn’t do an actual Scandal spoof last night which is dissapointing because it’s so ripe for parody, but it would have been too easy, no? I’m upset they didn’t do it either because while it’s an easy laugh, it could have been really good.
Best Sketches: Does a parody of what is (apparently) a parody work? I don’t know, but it made me laugh and that’s all that matters. The “What Does The Fox Say?” spoof was one of the highlights of the night mainly because I have no tolerance for the real song and found this superior. The “Career Week Speaker” sketch was fine but I’m not entirely sure why they opened with it. Kerry carried the entire thing and her delivery was fantastic. I love Nasim, but these type of characters just don’t work for her.
The “How’s He Doing?” sketch works really well. I think the last time they did it was with Maya Rudolph and I really liked it then and liked it again last night. It’s a bit formulaic like these kind of sketches can get, but it worked well. And I’m sucker for an episode that uses Jay Pharoah a lot. I also enjoyed the “Miss Universe” sketch.
Worst Sketches: “Cartoon Catchphrase” just did not work. It wasn’t terrible by any means but it just fell flat.
Can we talk about how much I’m enjoying Cecily Strong on Weekend Update? I’m just really proud of her. I was never a big fan of her character work and I’m still not, but I think she’s shining in this. And it makes me a little upset because if she had been given the chance, I think Casey Wilson could have excelled as an anchor too. Except we wouldn’t have gotten Happy Endings so never mind then?