How Super Bowl ads are responding to the moment (the answer, poorly), the risks of throwing a Super Bowl party and exposing the real late-night fantasies of people out of their 20s!
For the first time in a long while, politics did not dominate an episode of “Saturday Night Live,” but the Super Bowl certainly did.
But we also got a parody of those viral YouTube twins who’ve apparently never heard any song ever before they listen to it together, and it was a brilliant take. “Schitt’s Creek” star Dan Levy brought his dad and "Schitt's" co-star, Eugene, along for a pretty evenly funny episode.
It was another episode that spread the love throughout the cast (save a few notable absences), with a stronger presence from the middle of the group (as far as tenure), again making it look more and more like we’re setting them up to take over sooner rather than later.
But the best pairing of the night proved to be Dan and Kate McKinnon, who created a brilliantly devilish duo we can’t stop thinking about and kind of want to come and interrupt everything that ever happens ever with their special brand of insight.
The show did get in some good jabs at Jeff Bezos, Mike Lindell, Marjorie Taylor Greene and even Donald Trump, but they’re back to keeping this material mostly confined to “Weekend Update,” and in so doing, it’s really strengthened the fake news segment.
As usual, we're ranking all the sketches from worst to first, including the Monologue, Cold Open, "Weekend Update" and any sketches that were cut for time but made their way online. 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.
Dan Levy delivered a class backstage tour for his monologue, but it was far less hectic, with nary a llama animal in sight, though Kenan Thompson was chatting it up with a couple of showgirls in “safety” bubbles, so there is some continuity at least. Aidy Bryant was having a blast slapping Dan with a pool noodle for violating safety protocols, but the highlight had to be his dad.
Eugene Levy was in an “isolation box,” having flown from LA to support his son’s first hosting experience without realizing that he’d have to quarantine in the glass box for everyone’s safety. It was nice to see the two playing off of one another. While not the funniest backstage tour we’ve had, it was nice to see the trend continue amid Covid chaos.
It Gets Better
There was an underlying sweetness to this expansion of the “It Gets Better” initiative to inspire LGBTQ+ youth to hang in there and believe in a better future. Certainly, there has been tremendous progress made toward better treatment and equality, but we’ve got a long way to go yet.
It was still inspirational to see the LGBTQ+ cast-members of “SNL,” along with Dan Levy, talking about how it gets better … until it doesn’t. And it’s because of why it starts to not necessarily get better that this was unexpectedly uplifting. This is what equality looks like, warts and all!
There was so much to unpack with this sketch, so can we just start with that “painting” of Kyle Mooney and Ego Nwodim. It was so ridiculous, we imagine they had a very hard time posing for it without cracking. Their whole appearance was so stupid we were laughing in spite of ourselves, which made it easily the best of the three.
Aidy Bryant’s trying-too-hard teacher and Dan Levy’s selfish ally were fairly obvious jokes that didn’t quite push the envelope into funny, but Kyle sold his Black-inspired artist with the sheer force of his portrayal, countered perfectly with Ego’s stoic horror as his wife who was with him for reasons of her own.
What do you do when the TV is busted on Super Bowl Sunday at your favorite bar? You share one of the world’s most famous football songs, “Hot Damn!” Never heard of it? Well, that soon won’t be true. It’s always a blast watching the cast having fun during a sketch, and it was clear this one was a highlight of the night for Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson, Beck Bennett, Alex Moffat and Ego Nwodim. Yes, it was stupid, but infectious in a -- well, a stupid kind of way. It even took the time to throw in a funny twist at the end that worked!
Super Bowl Pod
This sketch should be shown as a PSA for what not to do during a pandemic. We were both cracking up and horrified by the details this “safe” pod of friends shared of how they’ve been handling a year of lockdown. Having Kate McKinnon’s Dr. Fauci show up at the end (with an assist from Psy) to bring home the point of the sketch might have seemed heavy-handed, but that’s why it works so well as a great example of how we justify to ourselves poor decisions. Plus, we’re still laughing over Heidi trying to spit out her lines through a mouthful of chili.
Cold Open: Super Bowl Pre-Game
While not a political cold open, per se, “SNL” still managed to get pretty political with references to Pizzagate, the vaccine and even social issues like equality and inclusivity. And they did it all through the talking heads of CBS’s Super Bowl pre-game coverage. But while jokes like a “woke” Cheez-Its ad and a “yikes!” Papa John’s ad were pretty funny, sometimes it’s the simple things that bring the biggest laughs.
Aidy Bryant showed up to portray both Super Bowl coaches, and after one quick change, Chris Redd said that he’d like to know what the other coach thinks of this coach’s comments. “You do?” Aidy asked, then after a pause, “Then just ask real slow.” Whether this was scripted or not, her doing another quick-change for this one joke was worth the price of admission. That and Boomer Esiason’s (Beck Benett) reason for loving turtles. Even Kenan had to laugh as the camera lingered on Beck, who just kept it going.
Marjorie Taylor Greene’s support of deep state conspiracy theories dominated the top segment of the piece -- so Michael Che somehow managed to get a boo/groan out of the audience with a joke about Stevie Wonder. Colin Jost then pointed out that “Did I do that?” works better for Urkel than O.J. Simpson, because sometimes accountability has to be a thing.
They only spoke briefly about “former social media influencer Donald Trump’s” refusal to testify at his second impeachment trial, but it was still pretty great. The boys then got in some great material about Stormy Daniels, Jeff Bezos and Mike Lindell that we’re still haunted by..
No matter where you stand on cancel culture, can we agree that canceling kids as young as newborn infants is maybe taking it too far? Mikey Day and Heidi Gardner were so smarmy and self-righteous -- we know we’ve seen those looks somewhere before -- as they joyously destroyed young kids for offenses like dressing up as a Native American and asking another kid why they have two daddies. Their performances nailed it!
We fully expected “SNL” to comment on Morgan Wallen’s n-word controversy, considering they had some headline-making trouble with him themselves, though theirs was less racist and more recklessly shirking Covid safety protocols. Still, we didn’t expect Michael to so deftly turn it into a sick burn on Colin. We should have, but we somehow didn’t.
The viral YouTube sensation twins, who got famous for listening to music they’ve never heard before and commenting on it, achieved a new level of fame by having Kenan Thompson and Chris Redd bring them to life on “Update.” Will they be watching this segment? Will they make a video of their first time seeing it? We certainly hope so, because it was fantastic. It turns out that not only have these guys never heard a ton of classic songs, they’ve never experienced much of anything in this world. Kenan and Chris played their wide-eyed joyousness to the hilt and we couldn’t stop smiling right along with them.
A late-night sex ad? Hell no, we’re so beyond that. How about a sexy, late-night real estate listings ad? Now that’s the good stuff. The tone of this piece was absolutely flawless, targeting people in their late 30s with what they really want to fantasize about -- “mature landscaping.” a kitchen in the guest house, a pool! We never thought to fetishize house listings, but after seeing this sultry expose, we’re gonna have to call Cecily Strong’s listing agent for a cooldown, as well.
Cut for Time: Men’s Cosmetics
“You’re using very violent language to describe” makeup, Dan Levy explains. How to protect fragile masculinity while giving them a product they might actually want? Make it look and sound so macho they’ll believe their testosterone is rising just by watching the ad. It’s … sad. But it’s also very, very true, making it ripe for parodying. Dan was perfect as the voice of reason failing to get through to Beck Bennett’s delicate narrator. Yes, foundation in a beer can, blush in a gun, protecting toxic masculinity and stereotypes in one "Face Stain" product line. Bravo!
Does choosing to take the moment when the minister asks if anyone has reason to object to this union as your moment to tell the bride she’s amazing and deserves the best -- is it an objection? Is it a very veiled statement? Is it pretty damned funny when Dan Levy and Kate McKinnon are leaning hard into not saying what they’re really saying? Is it all of those things? And how did groom Mikey Day manage to turn things around? Every bit of this worked, but especially the comedic chemistry between Dan and Kate. Seriously, they played off of one another like they’ve been a comedy duo for years and these have been their best recurring sketch characters.
After dominating in last week’s episode, Pete Davidson was nowhere to be seen this week (save a pre-taped sketch that got cut anyway, nor were Chloe Fineman and Lauren Holt. Everyone else in this sprawling cast had at least one moment, even if Melissa VIllaseñor’s was just getting detoxed for no further appearances at all.
Can we also point out that one of the week's best sketches got left on the cutting room floor, which is a tragedy. Thank goodness for the internet to bring these lost gems to light. Now, can someone go into the deep archives and find other cut-for-time jewels and make a whole shot out of them? M'kay, thanks!
On a week that saw a lot of strong individual performances, no one was having more fun than Aidy Bryant. She was clearly having a hoot with her quick-change coaches in the cold open, followed by beating Dan Levy with a pool noodle throughout his monologue all the way through her well-intentioned white ally.
Bowen has become a master of making the most of small moments, stealing the scene as a “Despicable” drop-in, a dancing Psy and sharing how it gets better, until it doesn’t, but we have to give the slightest edge over his strong week to Kate, just because she got to carry a sketch.
Her Dr. Fauci was on point, as usual, and she was definitely the standout in the Gets Better sketch, but she had us laughing way too hard at poor Ego Nwodim’s wedding alongside Dan Levy as two friends who are totally here to support you, but--
“Saturday Night Live” returns next week with host Regina King and musical guest Nathaniel Rateliff.