The actress kicked off the first "SNL" of the year, and we couldn't help but be more than a little disappointed as the night went along. There were some good sketches and genuinely funny moments, but Brosnahan seemed to fade into the background of almost every sketch she appeared in.
There were a few strong moments, including Pete Davidson addressing his suicide scare from late 2018 during "Weekend Update" and a parody game show that pitted Millennials versus Baby Boomers really did a great job of illustrating some of the strife between the generations.
As usual, we're ranking all the sketches from worst to first, including the Cold Open and the regular "Weekend Update" segments. We'll skip the musical guests, because they're not usually funny - unless Ashlee Simpson shows up. We wrap up with a look at the cast-member who had the strongest week.
Rachel Brosnahan tried to kick off the new year with a jubilant song, but couldn't maintain it -- even with the help of Aidy Bryant, Cecily Strong and Kenan Thompson -- because of the ongoing government shutdown, teacher strikes, krokodil epidemic and even Brexit, of which none of them really understand. There was the kernel of something fun here, but it wasn't realized. Plus, Rachel played second banana to the cast in her own monologue, which was odd. The song wasn't catchy, and it was just a checklist of the woes of the world without a biting angle or satire in sight.
Kate McKinnon's earthquake puns were a delightfully unnecessary part of this sketch which was mostly about incredibly awkward names, focusing as it did on rescue efforts near the Change of Name Office in Sacramento, CA. McKinnon played the newscaster at the desk who asked Mikey Day "what's shaking" and "any idea who's at fault?" and we are here for the additional layer of humor. Especially as goofy names was a little thin of a premise to carry the whole sketch, but they went with it.
Leave Me Alurn
"He's gone and I didn't have to be a bitch about it," Kate McKinnon said in this commercial parody about a "conversation prophylactic." Basically, you bring out an urn and pretend you're about to spread the ashes of a loved one, but we can't help to wonder, would this really work? Or would the talk intruder just want to talk about that? Also, are we as a society just wanting to kill small talk altogether now, as in the social part of society, or only when men initiate because they're too overbearing? We're a little confused. That said, we totally agree with the small-of-the-back spikes because yeah, how is that a place you should touch?
With Trump suggesting a deal to end the government shutdown stalemate, "SNL" decided the best shot at him understanding it was to frame it like a TV game show, with Kenan Thompson's Steve Harvey standing in for usual "Deal or No Deal" host Howie Mandel. "Five!" Alec Baldwin's Trump shouted, but he was ranking the women rather than choosing a briefcase. Kate McKinnon's Nancy Pelosi was on a power trip. The panel was filled with Congressmen and -women, plus one Cardi B, but we shouldn't really be surprised at what finally convinced Trump to reopen the government. If only it was that easy. The sketch was a little too on the nose, but there was charm in Baldwin and Thompson's interaction, and clearly the cast is settling into their Congressional parodies.
This parody of Gillette's "woke" toxic masculinity ad didn't land as successfully as "SNL" might have hoped and perhaps because the transition from a kids product marketed to both boys and girls into a statement on toxic masculinity didn't make nearly as much sense. We get that men bursting into rooms with red Kool-Aid mustaches is funny, but the parallels and the jokes might have landed harder with a product marketed primarily to boys like Hot Wheels or G.I. Joe. Otherwise, it felt like a bit of a stretch.
The Raunchiest Miss Rita
A spinoff (of sorts) of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," comedy club employee Miss Rita (Leslie Jones) decides to take the stage as a standup comic after being inspired by Rachel Brosnahan's Maisel. From there, it's just Rita going as blue as she can with the jokes; so blue we can't even understand all of them thanks to the beeping. Meanwhile, Maisel tries to reign her in, but the reality is that Rita is much better at connecting with the crowd than she is. We're all filthy dirtbags under it all, right?
This clever sketch returned, this time focusing on captioning Ken's Instagram page with interns Rachel Brosnahan, Heidi Gardner and Pete Davidson. As always, Kenan Thompson takes the Barbie brand way too seriously, which brings half of the humor. The rest comes with the pure idiocy of the interns, but we do wish Rachel's character had gone a different direction as it all felt too similar to what Donald Glover was doing in this premise last May, making the whole sketch lack spontaneity or mystery. Yes, she went dark while he went depressed, but the beats were still too familiar, even if Heidi's intern lost at least half of her IQ points between the two.
There was a slight graphics mishap in this one, but we still loved Aidy Bryant's song explaining what baby boomers are in the context of the people who grew up in a prosperous time and are now living better live than their millennial counterparts. Rachel Brosnahan has no health insurance at Google and Pete Davidson has a master's and is interning at Burger King (one of the restaurants). Host Kenan Thompson represents Gen X: "I just sit on the sidelines and watch the world burn." He also pokes fun at both of the other generations. Sounds about right. Honestly, they did a great job of poking fun at both generations and the problems between them. All the millennials have to do is endure lectures from boomers to win money. Sound easy? Not so fast!
Colin Jost thinks Trump's proposal to extend DACA in exchange for his border wall sounds like a hostage negotiation. They then dumped on BuzzFeed for getting some aspect of their story on the Mueller investigation wrong about Trump ordering Cohen to lie to Congress (Mueller says it was inaccurate, BuzzFeed says they're standing by their story). Basically, their message was for BuzzFeed to stay in their lane and keep bringing us lists and quizzes.
Kate McKinnon got ready for a busy election season by slipping into Elizabeth Warren's raspy excitement even as she acknowledged that America is absolutely determined to not vote for a woman for president. "Let me be that woman," she countered. It was a fun and energetic impression that played on Warren being unlikeable. It looks like she's got a good take on Warren right now, so if she sticks in the race, "SNL" should be in good hands to cover her.
Michael Che joked that Harvey Weinstein's lawyer left after he googled Weinstein as the boys poked fun at the viral Instagram egg and Gillette's toxic masculinity ad. Colin then shamed himself for his joke about the women caught with watches in her vagina and we're not even going to hint at its content here.
After missing most of the last episode of 2018 following a concerning tweet about his mental health and wellness, Pete Davidson took center stage alongside John Mulaney to wrap "Update." Colin thought he was going to talk mental health and open up about his recent experience, but instead he wanted to talk Clint Eastwood's "The Mule." They actually did touch on Pete's suicide square, and as expected, Pete awkwardly tried to joke it off, but John really forced him to hear that he is loved. But then they got to the real reason for their segment, comparing "The Mule" to when Eastwood argued with a chair at a Republican convention. They proceeded to trash the movie -- and Andy Garcia for some reason -- and it was absolutely brilliant.
Leslie Jones is really settling in nicely to sketch comedy work, and she was flawlessly in character for this goofy sketch that saw her as a talk show host who wrote a book about training husbands much as you might a dog, through shame. But the real winners of this sketch were the guys who got to play as shamed husbands, perfectly mimicking dogs. We couldn't stop laughing at Kenan Thompson's takes, as well as Kyle Mooney and Mikey Day. Beck Bennett was a little off in his portrayal, but what Cecily Strong was shaming him for took the comedy to a whole new level and we cannot stop thinking about it.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
This week, it came down to the two longest-tenured cast-members, though Leslie Jones was in the mix for a while there. Kenan Thompson was brilliant throughout the night, bringing out his always-reliable Steve Harvey and cracking us up as a shamed husband in the "Tabitha" sketch.
Kate McKinnon, meanwhile, was absolutely hamming it up in two different ways as Nancy Pelosi and Elizabeth Warren. Plus, we loved the subtle humor of her earthquake puns. But we're going to have to give it to Kenan for the delightful addition of his Gen-X gameshow host and his overly passionate Barbie social media executive.
"Saturday Night Live" airs Saturdays at 11:30 p.m .ET on NBC.