"Bridgerton" gets a new intimacy coordinator and Olivia Rodrigo gets an unexpected and lengthy shout-out for her relatable -- even to man-bro-dudes! -- hit "drivers license."
Props to first-time host Regé-Jean Page for taking lead on a “Saturday Night Live” installment that did not have a single dud among its lineup of sketches.
It’s a rare feat when every single sketch works on one level or another, and that’s exactly what happened here. Of course, we got nods to his smoldering work on “Bridgerton,” but Regé-Jean also showed impressive range and solid comedic timing.
After shaking off some nerves in the opening monologue -- with very steamy assists from some of the show’s ladies -- Regé-Jean settled in for a very fun night of laughs both live and pre-recorded.
Olivia Rodrigo’s “drivers license” got an unexpected shout-out, as the show went very timely this week with material on Britney Spears, Andrew Cuomo, Ted Cruz and Gina Carano. And those last four were just the cold open!
Elsewhere, we got such randomness as a rip on male chicken legs, the bizarre viral moment for sea shanties, the mental challenges of the ongoing pandemic and some things that are so strange they can only be explained by either the mental challenges of the ongoing pandemic -- or Kyle Mooney.
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.
Sea shanties are having a moment, so this one is here to remind everyone that live on the sea was hard and horrific much of the time. Especially if you made the terrible mistake of boarding this one, as Andrew Dismukes did. Featuring a fun appearance by Bad Bunny as ship’s navigator and Kate McKinnon as its builder, we kind of agree that even though they be only 45 minutes from the shore, they’re probably all gonna die.
Mr. Chicken Legs Pageant
Just a series of small bits assembled together into a sweetly satisfying sketch. There was a nod to the Cecil Hotel (Netflix true crime aficionados know), Cecily Strong as a washed-up singer, Aidy Bryant as a sweet judge and Chloe Fineman as an almost silent “funny” co-host.
We’re guessing that someone must have commented that Mikey Day, Pete Davidson and Andrew Dismukes all had very thin chicken legs or something, or one of them came up with this, but Regé-Jean Page as the host was wright in saying it was both disturbing and compelling at the same time. Alone, none of these elements would have been enough, but it was all the silly little pieces together that made the whole thing ultimately work.
A comedic dissertation on the universality of story and music told through a group of brosephs at a pool hall as they get their jam on to Olivia Rodrigo’s “drivers licencse.” Not only do they appreciate the story behind her lyrics, but they compare her favorable to Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift, digging into how they find themselves able to relate to the message and--
Ahem, I’ll knock your freaking block off, you wanna go about-- ahem. Yeah, it’s not easy being vulnerable, is it? We’ve seen this general bit before, but it’s always nice to challenge gender and age stereotypes like this … and Olivia must be so flattered at how much praise her track just got!
DRIVERS LICENSE SNL SKETCH IS THE BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER IM SHAKING
With a brief statement about his own representation as a Black romantic lead, Regé-Jean was mostly overwhelmed by the gushing praise and adoration of Aidy Bryant, Ego Nwodim and Chloe Fineman. Their joyful enthusiasm, which they played to the hilt, juxtaposed with him trying to say he’s not his “Bridgerton” character while sliding into sensual close-ups and really helped him relax.
He was clearly very nervous and shaky at the top, but by the time Chloe came out in full “Bridgerton” gear, he was pretty relaxed and settled in. Being an international sex symbol is new to Regé-Jean, but it looks like he’s settling well into it. Plus, it’s always fun to see cast-members crushing on the host as it offers some of that behind-the-scenes magic that makes us all feel more invested in the show and its process. Not to mention an impromptu rewrite of the whole show!
The Grocery Rap
Times are tough right now, so don’t we all need to let off steam and laugh a little with a hardcore rap at the grocery store? Well, turns out filming one without masks or any regard for public safety during a pandemic isn’t a great idea. This was a timely twist on a typical comedy song that took it to the next level. Probably our favorite moment came when Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney and Andrew Dismukes were formally reprimanded -- the faces, the tears!
Kenan Thompson’s Ice Cube got a little insecure sharing a dais with Kingsley Ben-Adir (Regé-Jean Page) and Daniel Kaluuya (Chris Redd) so he decided to put on a very, very bad British accent so he could be young and sexy, too. That’s it. That’s the bit.
It didn’t help that host Ego Nwodim was absolutely smitten with the Brits before getting to him, but then it was about how he was fooling no one and it was a bit pandering and pathetic. Actually, it was pretty funny hearing Kenan make up British-isms as he tried so hard to convince true Brits he’s from there as well.
“SNL” took another opportunity to make a statement about stupid double standards in television when the notion of green-screening male nipples over a woman’s was presented as a way to be able to air on any network -- because that’s standards logic!
But really it was about former SFX guys Mikey Day and Pete Davidson as the new intimacy coordinators on “Bridgerton” to try (and fail) to make sure Chloe Fineman and Regé-Jean Page were comfortable in their more intimate scenes as husband and wife. Let’s just say their suggestions were about as R-rated as the show itself-- it’s no wonder this aired toward the end!
It was a good old-fashioned, down-home grace-off. And if you didn’t know that was a thing, now you do. Two families came together to break bread, but before they did they had to take turns trying to one-up the praise of the other. To its credit, the sketch was never disrespectful to faith nor were the families disrespectful to one another. We were enjoying the back-and-forth so much -- as was the cast -- that it was a little disappointing when it ended.
The Job Interview
Sometimes stupid really, really works. This was totally stupid and yet it was just perfect. Beck Bennett is a master at playing inept confidence, and he brings it to bear here as an ad man who makes ads for companies before they want them -- or more likely sue him for his terrible ideas.
The premise of the sketch is that Regé-Jean Page is there for a job interview, but it’s all the terrible ads that take center stage throughout the bit, not to mention Beck’s assistant Bowen Yang coming in with Post-It notes with increasingly bizarre updates as to what’s going on. The whole thing is a little bit surreal but charming and funny.
Colin Jost and Michael Che went all in on the national emergency in Texas, taking Ted Cruz to task for his Mexican vacation and conservatives for falsely blaming renewable energy … or gay marriage. Whatever fits the agenda, right? They also managed to circle back to Cruz when talking about President Biden’s immigration plan, while they finally made a very, very slight jab at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for that “nursing home stuff.”
This was basically a “catching up with Pete” segment where he talked about how he looks like a toddler went to prison without his shirt on and that his mom has a stronger case for taking over his finances than Britney Spears’ father ever did. In other words, our Petey is growing up!
Turns out the NASA Mars rover picked up the mood of the room on Twitter alarmingly fast and now it’s just as racist as everyone else. They also talked about Krispy Kreme’s Mars donut, the Kim and Kanye divorce and less subtle jabs at Andrew Cuomo and Ted Cruz, because we weren’t done yet.
And then, it wrapped up on a silly note with Heidi Gardner as a community activist tackling food hunger … while dressed as Freddy Krueger. And she went all in, nearly cutting her own face while sparring with Che about her chopping glove and even the sweet song she sings as she delivers food. It was a one-note premise, but the pair sold it well.
This had to be one of the most joyful openings in a long time, with Chloe Fineman clearly enjoying getting a lead spot as Britney Spears to open the show. But it was Aidy Bryant as Ted Cruz eliciting the most giggles from her co-stars. The sketch was about people needing to apologize, so who better to host than the woman most in need of decades-old apologies?
Cruz was joined by Pete Davidson’s unapologetic Andrew Cuomo and Cecily Strong’s Gina Carano for what turned out to be more of a sketch about people who don’t understand why you’re all so mad, yo! The highlights, though, were when Aidy’s Cruz tried to relate to both Cuomo and Carano only to get ground into the dirt by their verbal assaults (and take it pretty well). But it was the occasional giggles at their own impressions and banter, proving how much joy the show still brings them, that really brought it home for us, too.
Loco (f. Bad Bunny)
Ego Nwodim is all of us in this video that starts off like a typical female empowerment rap anthem where she is just owning every bit of her damn self. But then, it turns out a year of quarantine has done a number on her brain. Kudos to hair and wardrobe for really selling the difference, as well as all the other twists.
Pete Davidson joins her from his joint as a fellow lunatic driven mad by the extraordinary existence we’ve all been forced to endure. But at least the song is incredibly catchy .. and Bad Bunny makes a pretty sage and sexy house plant. Wait, what? Maybe we’re going just a little bit--
Props to newcomer Andrew Dismukes, who easily had his biggest breakout episode. Sure, he’s still playing mostly smaller roles, but they’re more prominent and prevalent as he finds his place among the cast in part because he does look so young.
Chloe Fineman is also finding her voice, and more room for her impressions than poor Melissa Villaseñor has in five seasons. Ego continues to step up as a strong leader among the newer cast, but this season is really showing us a huge shift for this week’s strongest player.
In his seventh season, we thought we had an idea what Pete Davidson’s role on this show was, but he’s been showing up in more and more sketches this season, taking on character work and real performance-based material beyond Chad in a way we’ve never seen before.
He was absolutely everywhere this week, appearing in six sketches with lead roles in the majority of them. Not only did he threaten everyone as Andrew Cuomo at the top, but he was a hilariously inept intimacy coordinator, too.
Pete joined Ego Nwodim in lockdown cracking up while he shined doing what he does best, being himself and updating fans on his life in a barely-Valentine’s Day segment for “Weekend Update.” Pete has always been great at being himself here, but it’s nice to see him putting in the work to immerse himself in character work, as well. And it’s paying off.
We’ve no idea if Pete intends to leave the show soon -- as he hinted at toward the end of last season -- or if Kenan is starting this new model of “stay around as long as you want to,” but this version of Pete Davidson is the strongest he’s been on the show yet, as if he’s just hitting his stride now.
“Saturday Night Live” returns next week with host and musical guest Nick Jonas.