Saturday Night Live has always had a soft spot for Mother’s Day, especially when it has first dibs on celebrating it the night before. Whether it’s a monologue full of host and cast member moms, like in this week’s episode with Brie Larson, an inappropriate tribute like The Lonely Island’s “Motherlover,” or the now-iconic “Mom Jeans,” you can count on SNL to do something sweet. And with Larson coming fresh from her Oscar-worthy mom performance in Room, who better to help with a light-hearted, comedic tribute to motherhood?
As a whole, the episode was consistently funny, with Larson using her versatile TV and film chops to blend in with the cast in a way that was neither outstanding nor distracting. At 26, she’s right around the age of a typical new cast member, and she filled in her roles just as well. Of course, the most headline-grabbing highlight of the night was the return of Dana Carvey as Church Lady (by now I think it’s safe to say we just take Darrell Hammond’s Donald Trump for granted). Of course, moms also got their time in the spotlight (especially Pete Davidson’s) with a spot-on “The Cut” sketch and Davidson’s Weekend Update address. But the real highlight (IMO) was the return of McKinnon’s disaster-prone character “Ms. Rafferty,” even without Ryan Gosling there to giggle along.
Next week: Drake pulls double duty, followed by Fred Armisen hosting the season finale.
Church Lady Cold Open
It was nice to see “Church Chat” pop up on the screen, now that debate season is over and the cold open format has loosened up. Dana Carvey seemed genuinely excited to give us Church Lady’s updated thoughts on politics and 2016 culture, although I thought it was a bit weird to start off by dissing Madonna (hey, if Zayn can wear armor sleeves to a formal gala, a “57-year-old mother” should be allowed to show her butt) and then briefly touch on Beyonce before switching gears to the election. Taran Killam got to give his Satan – I mean, Ted Cruz – one last presumable run as he literally cackles like a witch and descends to Hell, returning with Jon Rudnitsky as a speechless demon. Darrell Hammond’s Trump came on to talk about the Bible, this time accompanied by Cecily Strong’s Melania, Vanessa Bayer as Trump’s daughter Ivanka, and Kate McKinnon as “some model,” who will probably end up with a cabinet position. We also got to hear a few of the old catchphrases for good measure. Well, isn’t that special?
Brie Larson Mother’s Day Monologue
I bet at least one son or daughter accidentally watched Room with their mom on Sunday based on the cover art alone, not knowing how intense it is. Larson made sure to get in a joke about that before being interrupted by cast members (Beck Bennett, Bobby Moynihan) wanting to wish their moms a happy Mother’s Day, and a few more (Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson) who brought their actual mothers on stage. McKinnon’s mom gets extra points for her adorable pun, and Larson’s mom (who looks more like her older sister, really) gets to make her SNL debut as well. Another cute mom-ologue in the books.
SNL has been pretty soft on Hillary Clinton this season, what with Trump being, well, Trump. This commercial parody took aim at Clinton for being stiff (as a Barbie), and “trying too hard” to seem cool and drum up passion in young women, but it also made fun young women for not appreciating how monumental it is that she’s made it this far. Featuring some sassy little girls and Brie Larson popping in as a mom, the voice-over carries the sketch as it gets increasingly more frustrated with the girls having no interest in “President Barbie.” Let’s just hope Clinton isn’t really less fun than a dusty, old broom.
I feel like “Ms. Rafferty” just doesn’t capture the absurdity of the character Kate McKinnon plays in this now-recurring sketch. After making Cecily Strong, Ryan Gosling, and everyone else crack up with her wildly different account of their alien abduction (which resulted in her losing her pants), this time she regales her hippie-dippie friends and a couple scientists (Bobby Moynihan, Aidy Bryant) with tales of an angel encounter (that also resulted in her losing her pants). Brie Larson fills in for Gosling’s character and describes a blissful soul journey while Ms. Rafferty blows the whistle on Keith, the guardian angel who gave her a “lady wedge” and caused a Scottish Terrier to take up residence in her boob (side note: the mental image of her “fighting off a gaggle of cold snouts” cannot be unseen). I just have one wish, and that is for “Full Donald Duckin’ it” to become a real catchphrase. Just imagine the T-shirts!
This haircut, which, before now you might have called the “I’d like to speak to the manager,” or perhaps the Kate Gosselin, definitely deserves 5-7 minutes of mockery. At a baby shower for a long-locked Brie Larson character, Cecily Strong, Vanessa Bayer, Aidy Bryant, Sasheer Zamata, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones explain how she’ll soon get “The Cut” that all moms have, “a soft waterfall in the front, but knives in the back.” The scene quickly turns into a Twilight Zone-level nightmare as the women share their “Cut” breaking points (reminder: bathrooms are oceans, kitchens are farms) and once McKinnon says there are “only seven bags in the county,” it hits its high point. The scariest part, though, is that there are enough of those wigs to go around.
“Well, it happened,” is probably the most accurate way to sum up the nation’s response to Donald Trump becoming the GOP nominee, but Colin Jost and Michael Che had more to say, especially about his Cinco De Mayo taco bowl fiasco, which is somehow not an SNL joke. Che paid particularly attention to detail, noting the multiple Trump bobble heads and fake Oscar in the background of the photo in which he’s “eating off a stack of newspapers like the world’s richest hamster.” While Jost says no one is happy with a Trump vs. Clinton race, Che makes a great point about the GOP not rigging their primary: “Where is that spooky right-wing illuminati when you need ‘em?”
The first guest, Vanessa Bayer’s Laura Parsons, is a popular Update guest this season, bringing her plucky, slightly-off-key sweetness to some of the most grim news stories of the day. You know, Trump, Tinder and Grindr giving people STDs (not “Seriously Terrible Dates,” but those too) and the KKK. Or, as Laura says it, “The KKK!!!”
Next, Sasheer Zamata took the desk to offer a response to the (mostly white) response to Larry Wilmore using the N-word at the White House Correspondents Dinner. It took a little while for the audience to warm up to her salient points (“Fox News had white people condemning it who definitely say it off-camera”) until she started to tell a personal story about a racist attack using “McGriddle” in place of the slur, had some awkward giggles with Jost, and hit her stride with a more serious tone about not ignoring the history of the word. It felt more like something you would see on The Daily Show (or The Nightly Show) and I would love to see her do more desk pieces. She finished strong by throwing the word (as Jost would say, “McGridda”) back out there on live TV, and got a big laugh in the end.
Jost and Che rounded out the news with one-liners on Caitlyn Jenner’s soon-to-be nude Sports Illustrated photos, Jay Z’s response album, #GiveElsaAGirlfriend, and Hillary Clinton’s ongoing congressional investigation. They also touched on the mass amount of people leaving Puerto Rico, a true “Florida Man” story, and the many problems besetting Rio 2016 (boy did that Zika virus joke get a big groan – and yet, they laughed hysterically at the deformed Chinese baby joke. Go figure).
Finally, Pete Davidson took on Mother’s Day duty wearing a bright pink sweatshirt. As he has done before in his act, Davidson praised his mom for being a single parent, and going the extra mile by giving him some borderline creepy dating advice and buying him his first condoms. If she really has been tweeting anonymously at trolls and flirting with Lorne Michaels, that is hilarious. If not, at least she did a good job with her SNL debut (and Davidson did look genuinely embarrassed).
Game Of Thrones: Jon Snow
I don’t watch Game Of Thrones, but I think I understand viewer frustrations with the Jon Snow death fake-out (somehow I’m still watching The Walking Dead, and we just went through this with Glenn – except we didn’t have to wait a year). Plus, I’m on Twitter enough to gather that things have been kind of slow, with a lot of dramatic staring so far this season. After playing the Mother Of Dragons when Peter Dinklage hosted, Kate McKinnon tried Melisandre on for size, and the rest of the cast, especially Brie Larson and Cecily Strong, did a good job representing the GOT audience’s woes while tending to a shirtless Pete Davidson (as Snow) on a slab. My favorite part was when Larson’s character got the world of GOT confused with Harry Potter (now THAT I can relate to).
Quiz Whiz 2018
You really had to stick with this one until the end for it to pay off. Otherwise, Cecily Strong hosts your average conceptual game show sketch with Taran Killam and Brie Larson as contestants in the year 2018 trying to remember the guy who came in second to Trump, you know, the one who was “on TV for 13 straight months.” I’m not sure if it was “too soon” to make a joke about having forgotten the name “Ted Cruz” forever, even though we all long for that day, but this one doesn’t really make you LOL until you realize Larson’s character is Ted’s wife Heidi. I did love the throwaway references to it being the future (“We’re all transgender”) and was glad to hear that’s when we’ll be getting flying cars. However, I was not so happy to hear the words “President Trump” followed by a creepy salute that we’ll undoubtedly be chanting in the near future. Yay?
In this week’s Kyle Mooney/Beck Bennett production, we were transported to what looks like a mom’s living room to meet Discreet Annihilation (Brie Larson, Mooney, and Bennett), a band that will remind you of every nu metal disaster of the early 2000s (a.k.a “all whites who do ‘black-style raps’”). All these guys need from the generous Kickstarter community is $750,000 for a to make a 5-track EP, go on a world tour and make Johnny Shadow, a film that relies heavily on Mooney wearing blue sunglasses. I could have watched more of Mooney’s bad Powerpoint presentation, and Bennett’s blonde dreads plus the webcam-POV were giving me Jarret’s Room vibes. Now, how do I get my hands on one of those “Fooblers” drawings?
After Alicia Keys’ second performance came another pre-taped sketch, a good old fashioned CD compilation commercial for “Dead Bopz,” an album of covers by your favorite deceased artists. Beck Bennett’s laser-Bing Crosby only seems slightly enthused to bring us Roy Orbison (Taran Killam) covering Justin Bieber (sorry), Eartha Kitt (Sasheer Zamata) posing as a slightly more polite Rihanna, and civil rights leader Paul Robeson singing “Trap Queen,” which has to be a misuse of technology, like, legally. The slew of cast impressions continues with Brie Larson explicitly rapping as a sweet Lesley Gore, and Jay Pharoah bringing Tupac back to life in a way that is probably making him roll in his grave, if being a hologram hasn’t done that already. Plus, we all learned that Ethel Merman (Aidy Bryant) was “The Selena Gomez of the 50s.” The more you know!
So Shoot, What Else?