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SNL Season 40, Episode 19 Review

On this week’s Saturday Night Live, Scarlett Johansson hosted for the fourth time with musical guest Wiz Khalifa, and while there were some good moments, the overall tenor of the show was stale and stagnant. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that they were coming off a long break since their last live show, and the fact they were up against the Mayweather/Pacquiao boxing match, so I can give the cast and writers of SNL a break since they really didn’t have my undivided attention anyway. Still, despite the fact that the show was being overshadowed there were a couple clever, fun moments that are worth highlighting. It wasn’t a hilariously bad episode at all, so I really don’t have much to complain about at all, it just didn’t capture my attention the way some episodes do, which may just be more about me than anything else.

The best part of the show for me was actually the cold open, something I don’t always say because it can be hit or miss for these writers to hit home runs with current events, but the crew and cast tackled the boxing match that was overshadowing their telecast very, very well. They spoofed the match by announcing that they acquired a pirated stream of the match and would be broadcasting it instead of putting on a typical opening. When they cut to the stream we saw Jay Pharoah playing Mayweather and Aidy Bryant playing Pacquiao, in a weird, yet hilarious twist. The announcer made a point of letting the viewers know that, because the stream was pirated, some of the figures might be distorted, and that many Pacquiao may look like a white woman. I thought that whole turn was kind of great, real tongue-and-cheek material. The producers obviously knew that they were going to be overshadowed on the night by this overhyped boxing match, but they were able to use that to their advantage and poke fun at what was going on simultaneously, which was a clever acknowledgement of something that could have been left to be the elephant in the room. I really liked this opening a lot, but unfortunately this was the peak of the show for me.

Scarlett Johansson came out for what would be her fourth monologue as a host on SNL, an impressive feat for anyone. She clearly has a great stage presence, which is helpful for any guest, but I do think she got a bit outplayed in her monologue by Taran Killam and Kenan Thompson, who played off the things she was saying in a disapproving manner. I thought Scarlett’s part was a bit weird, but the other two were great at reacting along. I think it was more a fault of the writers for not giving her great material there, but it didn’t help me get into the episode at all. The first skit of the night was pretty decent; Scarlett played a really funny New Jersey caricature on a talk show, while Kate McKinnon had one of the best cameo character appearances of the season when she came on impersonating Hozier for a few seconds. It was unexpected and brilliant, and it helped prove the point that Kate is the queen of this show. All she needed was a few seconds to steal the scene from everyone else, even considering the skit was pretty funny to begin with. I’m definitely going to need to see her Hozier impersonation again; it was way too good to be a one time thing.

As I mentioned before, there weren’t too many skits that really caught my eye from this episode. The Black Widow Trailer was a fun concept, that seemed a bit safe, the Jingle Writers skit had some good moments, and the rest were just plain unmemorable. The same could be said about Wiz Khalifa, I feel like his moment has come and past and I’m just not that interested in hearing him perform at this point. One thing I did really enjoy in the second half of the show was Weekend Update; it was really quite good this week. Unlike recent weeks, I really enjoyed Colin Jost’s performance throughout the segment. He was hilarious when trying to joke about the topic of Bruce Jenner, and opposite Kate McKinnon’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg character as well. Update was definitely the highlight of the back end of the episode, which is a good thing to take away from the show, if nothing else.

This week’s Saturday Night Live was not my favorite episode of all time, but it wasn’t particularly bad either. Scarlett Johansson was an OK host, she definitely had her moments, but she never really captivates me or keeps my attention too long (as a host or an actress either, just a personal opinion). Hopefully this upcoming episode, starring Reese Witherspoon as host, and Florence and The Machine as musical guest will pique my interests more. With only two more episodes left in the season, I’m hopeful for some memorable material from the cast before SNL 40 is over.

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