Like the past few seasons, Saturday Night Live‘s 44th iteration has produced a growing collection of hit-or-miss episodes. Some, like Adam Driver and Jonah Hill‘s guest-hosted entries, have largely proven to be the exception to the rule. Otherwise, the remainder has been chock-full of fantastic sketches and moments that were cushioned by forgettable jokes and filler. Thankfully, this weekend’s figurehead, Claire Foy, had no trouble proving that sometimes the now-typical SNL episode just needs the right host to save it — mostly.
Best known for her dramatic work in television shows like Netflix’s The Crown and films like First Man, Foy doesn’t immediately strike one as the comedic type. Yet like Liev Schrieber and Christopher Walken before her, the award-winning British actress was quick to point out just how funny she could be, given the right material and the best sketch partners. Her curt opening monologue, which came in at just under three minutes, is a good example of this, but more on that below.
It’s also nice to see someone like Foy hosting SNL because, to be completely frank, she’s not what Driver, Hill, Schreiber, Seth Meyers and Steve Carell are — a man. Indeed, she joins Awkwafina as one of this season’s two non-white-male hosts so far. Jason Momoa and Matt Damon will close out 2018 as the hosts for the December 8th and 15th episodes, and yes, the former’s Hawaiian and Native American descent helps differentiate him from the rest, but after nine episodes so far, season 44 will only boast two women as hosts.
Anyways, here are the key moments from last night’s show.
A simple monologue
Sometimes, the best SNL monologues are the shortest ones — the ones where, instead of transforming into a small proto-sketch or a preview of a stand-up comedian’s in-progress set, only a few minutes go by before the real fireworks begin. Foy’s brief foray into the wide world of Brexit, President Donald Trump’s America and whether or not Queen Elizabeth II has actually watched The Crown. It contained all of the self-referential material viewers have come to expect from SNL hosts, and nothing more.
Alec Baldwin expresses self-reflection for a moment
Look, you either love Alec Baldwin’s Trump impression or you hate it, and if you’re of the latter camp, then your distaste for the semi-regular SNL cameo probably has something to do with the man behind it. Even so, Baldwin’s tenure at the show is almost always salvageable given the right writers and players, and this weekend’s cold open managed to toss in just enough Cecily Strong (as Melania) and Kate McKinnon (as Rudy Giuliani) to make things right. Also, Baldwin quipped about his recent arrest, which was a nice touch.
Netflix takes over the world
The Crown‘s home, Netflix, is canceling, renewing, and adding shows left and right. They’ve been spending billions on new, original content for the past few years, and judging by the streaming giant’s known plans, that’s not going to stop anytime soon. Hence SNL‘s spot-on satire of the platform’s monthly announcement videos, which keep subscribers up-to-date on what is and isn’t available to stream. “Our goal is the endless scroll,” the add announces. “Thus, the singularity will be achieved.”
McKinnon and Foy are the new dream team
Accents are a dime a dozen, especially for oft-stereotyped characters like Boston “townies” and Long Island “goomahs.” But even if a performer’s accent isn’t exactly spot-on, plenty of fun can be had — especially when it comes to comedy. Hence “Good Morning Goomah,” a morning talk show sketch featuring Foy and McKinnon as two Long Island-based mistresses talking about all kinds of gossip while they wait for their men to return from the Christmas holidays with their wives and families. It’s cheesy, but fun.
You were all thinking the same thing about Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Ever since 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, moviegoers have been asking themselves the same question about Charlie’s grandparents — are they having sex in that shared bed? Yes, this is a juvenile question and an equally sophomoric concept for a sketch, but seriously… how do two long-married couples share the same bed and not engage in, well, anything? What results is a shock-for-silly’s-sake sketch that, though lacking in bigger ideas, fits right in with SNL tradition — even McKinnon’s breaking.
Was Foy’s first gig as SNL host truly memorable? Not really, but like a few of its season 44 predecessors, it managed to produce a few really funny sketches and moments. Her and McKinnon’s inability to stay in character throughout the “Charlie’s Grandparents” sketch will remain a topic for at least the next few days. So too will McKinnon’s monstrous turn as Trump lawyer Giuliani. Younger cast member Heidi Gardner managed to get a few good spots, while Pete Davidson’s exploding star was darkened for a bit.