As a shock to no one, Lin-Manuel Miranda knew what he was doing in a live stage production. He was strangely almost too good, I sometimes forgot he was the host and just accepted him as another one of the new SNL cast members. (Miranda’s new haircut may have had something to do with that. During his Hamilton run I got so used to seeing him with longer hair, it’s kind of weird seeing him without it.)
In his monologue, Miranda stopped to reference Trump hosting – I honestly can’t tell if this is helpful or not. The specter of that decision is still there and making wink winks at it doesn’t seem to be eradicating the situation. I don’t have an answer for this. But this is still a problem – then again, we all knew it would be. So I guess we just live with it, but also bringing Fallon on during “Weekend Update” was probably a mistake. (We will get to that.)
Okay, let’s just get to it. Here’s your (once again slightly shorter but I’m still doing this every Sunday morning) Scorecard:
Sketch of the Night
“A Day Off” Imagining what Kellyanne Conway does on her day off is the kind of thing we’ve been missing with SNL on hiatus. First of all, setting this to Katrina and the Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine” was fantastic. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this song was used in every single ‘80s Michael J. Fox movie not named Back to the Future.) It made me feel happy! And then the music stops and there’s Kellyanne Conway on television, having to defend some other stupid thing. I bet her days off are a lot like this. I bet this is real. Who knew Kate McKinnon’s best character of this election season would be Kellyanne Conway?
Other Highlights and Lowlights
“Diego Calls Home” I would watch a full three hour stage production about Diego. This was a damning observation about the United States delivered in such a beautiful and touching way way.
“Wells Fargo Wagon” I didn’t like the joke of the sketch more than I just loved the production of the sketch. This felt like a real play! Then Lin-Manuel Miranda shows up doing a fun voice, handing out bank accounts. Anyway, I’m a sucker for sketches that involves a large number of cast members all singing and dancing together on stage. And there they all were! And for a few, brief, fleeting moments, I was basking in music about a bank committing fraud and wasn’t thinking about Donald Trump. It was nice.
“VP Debates Cold Open” Well, we learned you can now say “grab them by the pussy” on SNL at 11:30 p.m. – what a world. First, SNL has a history of being “cute” about its at times lack of diversity. Having Melissa Villaseñor point out she’s not Asian does deflect some of the scorn I’m sure they were expecting, but it just never plays well. But this of course became about Trump’s latest dumb thing and they did a pretty good job of adding that in there considering the time constraints. Then again, at this point you could just write a VP Debate sketch and put at the end, “Address whatever it is Trump just did today,” and that would probably work just fine. Anyway, this election is almost over. Right? Right?!?!
“Weekend Update” I honestly think Jost and Che are, now, pretty good together as hosts, but they should probably stop doing podcasts. In a show that’s still so fragile from this Trump debacle from last season (and let’s be honest here, maybe the entire network is fragile, sans Seth Meyers), talking about how Trump isn’t so bad probably wasn’t’ the best move. Okay, so, “Update” starts out with rapidfire Trump jokes and things are going well. This is good! Then they bring out Jimmy Fallon in drag and … oof. Look, I get that Fallon took a hit for tousling Trump’s hair and looking like he was making fun of himself might be helpful. But this wasn’t the time or the place. SNL is still dealing with their own fallout and they aren’t in the place right now to lend out any credibility because theirs is still so low. If Fallon wants to get some credibility back he’d have to bite the bullet and make fun of himself on Late Night with Seth Meyers. (This will probably never happen for a few reasons.) Also, when did Pete Davidson’s shtick go from “I’m young and clueless, pretty funny, right?” to “I’m young and cool, pretty cool, right?”
Average Overall Score for this Show: 6.99
· Lin-Manuel Miranda 6.99
· Margot Robbie 6.95
Mike Ryan lives in New York City and has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York magazine. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.