Saturday Night Live has returned, with Margot Robbie as host, for its 42nd season and, with everything going on in the world, yes, it was comforting! (And SNL Scorecard is back, too, even though I kind of said it wouldn’t be. Though, this is a shorter version that doesn’t cover every single sketch, just a few interesting ones! I did say I’d still be doing something. This is the something.)
What we saw in last week’s actual debate between Clinton and Trump might not have seemed like a real debate, but now here’s SNL doing a parody of it, so it must have been real! (Again, it felt comforting.) As my SNL Podcast partner (yes, if you didn’t know, I am on a podcast) Ryan McGee pointed out at Rolling Stone, this is a big moment for SNL. Whether they like to admit it or not, having Trump host last season gave the show a serious black eye. Making a change of who plays Trump (the third Trump the show has had in the last year) was a smart move.
Yes, it would have been nice to have someone in the cast play Trump, but Alec Baldwin was pretty great. His Trump is both nasty and a buffoon, which is perfect.
And Margot Robbie was everything one can hope for from a first-time host. She was energetic, she looked like she was having fun, and she called Kyle Mooney a “pussy” on live television. Good for her.
Anyway, here is your brand new and deproved Scorecard:
Sketch of the Night
“Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton Debate Cold Open” I mean, SNL has been openly promoting this sketch all week, which was a good sign that they knew they had something pretty good going. Baldwin is a very good Trump. Again, he’s a nasty buffoon – and I don’t think there’s much doubt what the real Mr. Baldwin thinks of Trump in real life. They actually did a pretty good job of making Baldwin look like the 2016 version of Trump. Also, it felt like shades of Tina Fey’s Palin sketches (remember, Fey was also not a cast member when she was doing Palin) in which just using actual dialogue from the real debate is funny enough on its own. (Man, that really did happen. We live in strange times and I would like it to be over.) Of course we already knew that Kate McKinnon’s Clinton is very good. And, sure, there were some jabs at her, too. Hey, everyone, she’s not always relatable! Well, okay, whatever. But, again, the purpose here was to make Trump look like a buffoon and in that, the sketch succeeded.
The Runners Up
”The Hunch Bunch” I wish Kyle Mooney had his own movie starring as this kind of, sort of Shaggy character, who is not named Shaggy, while Margot Robbie follows him around calling him a “pussy.” I laughed out loud at this. Maybe it was shock! I was not expecting that! Anyway, there was a really fun dynamic on display here. The joke of the sketch kind of got lost a couple time, but it didn’t matter because everyone was just so funny. The political sketches will only really be a white-hot topic for the next few shows, but this is the kind of sketch that makes me optimistic about the direction of the cast.
”Melania Moments” This kind of felt like a sad “Deep Thoughts.” But the thought of Melania Trump wondering if there’s a 6th Avenue somewhere out there is funny. And Cecily Strong does a good job of capturing Melania Trump. I suspect these might be a running joke over the next few weeks. I hope they are. I hope Strong’s Melania Trump learns about 6th Avenue and 4th Avenue.
”Actress Roundtable” As soon as this one started, there was no doubt this would be a “Kate McKinnon does an eccentric character” sketch. It did not disappoint! Debette Goldry! You know, as someone who has sat through many, many, many panel discussions about every film topic known to human existence, I would love for Debette Goldry to be on every one of them. I’m serious. Kate McKinnon as Debette Goldry should be on every panel. I would enjoy that. That would make me happy. How can we do this?
”Celebrity Family Feud: Political Edition” I like that Larry David’s Bernie Sanders has, over the last year, morphed from a impression of Bernie Sanders to just a full-on Larry David bit. I don’t think I know anymore where the Larry starts and the Bernie ends. Maybe they are the same person now. I’d be okay with that. Anyway, this was a mixed bag. It was like half there. Everything about the Trump children recreating that creepy photo was pretty brilliant. Shirtless Putin made me laugh out loud. But including Melissa Villaseñor as Sarah Silverman seemed forced. (Do we really need another Sarah Silverman impression in the world?) And Cecily Strong’s Lin-Manuel Miranda was very good! But, also, didn’t make a whole lot of sense. (I’m sure that will be discussed on Monday when Lin-Manuel Miranda shows up for the pitch meeting. It will probably go something like, “Cecily, I really liked your impression of me.” And Cecily Strong will respond, “Oh, thank you. You are nice.”)
Average Overall Score for this Show: 6.95
· 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.