Saturday Night Live
Jonathan Majors is having a little bit of a moment. After starring in Lovecraft Country and joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Kang the Conqueror, the Yale drama–trained actor just released The Harder They Fall, a movie where a dynamite cast takes a barely intelligible script and spins it into gold. Now he’s hosting SNL with musical guest Taylor Swift, fresh off the re-release of her album Red. Meanwhile, SNL might be Taylor’s longest, most stable relationship. This is her fifth time as a musical guest since 2009. Taylor is kinda the SNL of the pop world: the perpetual underdog with a loyal fanbase who is forced by a tyrant to re-release old material.
- Ted Cruz Sesame Street
- Jonathan Majors Monologue
- March of the Suitors
- Please Don’t Destroy - Three Sad Virgins (ft Taylor Swift)
- Audacity in Advertising Awards
- Strange Kid Tales
- Man Park
- Taylor Swift: “All Too Well”
- Weekend Update (Sarah Sherman Roasts Colin Jost, Stand-Up Robot Laughingtosh 3000)
- Broadway Benefit
- Pet Store Ad
- Pastor Announcement
Best Impression of the Week
SNL kicks off with Aidy Bryant as Ted Cruz starring in “Ted Cruz Street,” a children’s show on the right-wing Newsmax Kids. “It’s a gated community.” This is about Ted Cruz attacking Big Bird for promoting the COVID vaccine. SNL hasn’t had one bad cold open all season, and yet again, they don’t disappoint. Love seeing Cecily Strong in there as Marjorie Taylor Greene. “I’m just taking a break from releasing the phone numbers of Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill so they and their families get death threats.” It’s also great to see Aidy — who only had two lines last week — carry an entire sketch. Pete Davidson stops by as a giant Joe Rogan. “I used to host Fear Factor, and now doctors fear me.”
Best Red Lobster Origin Story
Jonathan Majors comes out absolutely swinging. This season, the previous monologues, save for Kim’s, leaned more on autobiography and less on the jokes. Majors continues the pattern of talking about his life, but with some really funny jokes. “That’s my way of saying I went to Yale.” I also love the energy he’s bringing.
Best Save of a Flailing Sketch
Chloe is a queen looking for a suitor in a History Channel show about forgotten monarchs called “March of the Suitors.” A pretty boring, unclear split-stage sketch until Ego enters to call out the married Jonathan. “This isn’t a rich prince; this is my dumb-ass husband, Dave.” Then Punkie hilariously enters with a long-shot attempt at wooing the queen. “I might as well just march my lazy ass on down to the castle and see if she down to clown around.” Punkie once again turns a brief opportunity into gold.
Most Humbling Music Video
Pete Davidson plays into his status as SNL’s resident celebrity by starring in a music video with his Please Don’t Destroy boys, utterly humiliating them by calling them three sad virgins. An ingenious sketch that is funny and better ingratiates the audience with the three members of Please Don’t Destroy. The sketch then hits the stratosphere with a cameo by Taylor Swift. This might be a “Squid Game”–level viral sketch.
Most Blatant Sponsored Content
Jonathan is Jake from State Farm and Heidi is Flo from Progressive here to present the awards in “Audacity in Advertising Awards.” One of Major’s line reads: “Children hold hands over border wall. O’Neill’s Titanium Border Walls.” Andrew Dismukes, who comes up as an intern accepting the BP award, has found a nice little niche as SNL’s resident teen. I guess the ads were all right, but I wonder if SNL is still doing sponsored content. If so, which of these brands paid to get their name mentioned for the spike in traffic? I see ads for Progressive, State Farm, and Liberty Mutual almost 6,000 times a day while watching TV shows. The live broadcast even had a Jake from State Farm ad a few minutes before this sketch. Now they’re actually in my TV shows? No thanks.
Creepiest Kid Stories
Jonathan and Kenan host an Syfy show called Strange Kid Tales. (Interestingly, the third sketch that starts with a narrator telling us what channel we’re watching.) Jonathan and Kenan evoke how creepy it is to hear kids talk about ghosts. This is the funniest live sketch of the night and the best use of Jonathan. They work well with the actual creepy kids, and the eyes close-up moment is a lot of fun. When the kid says he served on the Natoma, Jonathan hilariously freaks out. “He knows the name of the ship.”
Best Representation of Male Fragility
“When I walk in the door, my husband sort of rockets information at me for 25 minutes straight.” Women finally have a place to bring their lonely male partners: a Man Park. “After they run around and yell, they can cool down with an IPA and really connect.” There are even two parks, one for larger breeds “Pats!” “Ravens!” and smaller breeds “Rick! Morty!” If you ever need to gently tell your man you’d like him to make a friend, any friend, so you’re not his only social outlet, this is the perfect sketch to show him.
Best ‘Weekend Update’ Audition: Sarah Sherman
Sarah Sherman stops by a weak “Weekend Update” to recap how SNL’s season is going so far, roasting Colin the entire time. “Local sicko Colin Jost caught hitting on SNL’s barely legal new girl.” If the two longest-serving “Weekend Update” hosts ever step down, Sarah showed energy and comedic timing that would be perfect, even taking a hilarious dig at herself. “I’m sitting here looking like Chucky went to Sarah Lawrence.”
Best Impression of Instagram and Tinder
Aristotle stops by “Weekend Update” as the Laughingtosh 3000, giving a solid impression of sites like Instagram and Tinder. “This is Tinder: Get out of my way, get out of my way, hello baby!” I love to see two of the newest members in Aristotle and Sarah get a chance to show off their stuff.
Worst Broadway Return
Bowen and Cecily are two Broadway stars performing a non-PG song for beleaguered parents Aidy and Alex. The two old-timey characters then sing a song about how everybody today is doing drugs. Broadway singers singing about drugs? That premise wouldn’t be shocking in 1975, let alone 2021. Jonathan soon joins the duo, but he just sort of politely sings and dances about cocaine. Oh no, get your kids out of there! This sketch is where SNL takes a wrong turn and never recovers.
Most Head-scratching Parody
Twenty-six years ago, rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony exploded onto the scene with E. 1999 Eternal, one of the best rap albums of all time. I actually had their single, “1st of Tha Month,” on cassette. Tonight’s audience was split between people who had never heard of it and people who were wondering why SNL was parodying a rap group that hasn’t had a hit single since 1996 in “Pet Store Ad.”
Taylor Swift was my MVP of tonight’s episode. Not only were her fans brawling in the street trying to get tickets (and apparently Joe Biden was in attendance??), but her cameo in the Please Don’t Destroy sketch made it one of the best sketches of the season, and her ten-minute rendition of “All Too Well” is a memorable moment.
I can’t say the same for the rest of this episode. SNL’s only solution to writing for Jonathan Majors was to stick Kenan next to him in nearly all his sketches. They had not one but two bad split-stage sketches, where somebody acts kooky while staring at the camera, and 15 yards away on another stage, somebody else looks at the camera and says, “Wow, that’s kooky.” Episodes like this make me nervous. You got a superstar like Taylor Swift bringing eyes to the program and the only memorable sketch was a digital collaboration between Pete and Please Don’t Destroy. “Man Park” was also a solid sketch, but when Saturday Night Live has terrific taped sketches, it makes the clunky live sketches look even worse. I hope they can turn it around next week with Simu Liu.