Saturday Night Live’s 41st season premiered this past week, with Miley Cyrus as host and musical performer. It was a really great start to the season, with a lot of great material throughout the night, which I was very happy about. Last season was a series of ups and downs for the cast, with week to week performances differing in hilarity and intensity, but in the second season with this current cast it’s starting to seem like this ensemble may be gaining some momentum, and that could mean good things going into the always pivotal election year for SNL. Regardless of what future episodes may or not bring, this episode was fun from start to finish, and definitely will set a good precedent for what we should expect from SNL in season 41.
The open to start the show was politically based, as I anticipated, but was sort of lackluster compared to my expectations. We saw Taran Killam put on a solid Donald Trump impersonation talking about his image with wife Melania trump, played by Cecily Strong. Cecily’s performance was a winner for the open, carrying what was relatively lackluster material and making it hilarious, but I do wonder why they didn’t start with an opening that highlighted more cast. If they were going to go political, I thought they should have brought out as many impersonations as they could to at least see who can do what, but nonetheless it was still a solid opening on its own merit. Miley Cyrus came out for her monologue soon after, and it was quite a successful open for her and the cast, as she sang a song while commemorating (and bidding farewell to) all of the people who got their fifteen minutes of fame over the summer. It was hilarious and it literally gave every single cast member a chance to get a part in the monologue, which I always want to see. Some of the best moments were seeing Aidy Bryant do a Kim Davis impersonation and Kyle Mooney play the Pope trying to back away from Davis’ character, that scene was one of the best moments of the night. The whole monologue sequence was fantastic and it set a great mood for the rest of the night, and that mood really carried on throughout the night.
The skit portion of the night was really, really good this episode, featuring a good mixture of everything the show usually does best. They had a great pre-taped commercial sketch for Abilify for candidates, spoofing the fact that a lot of Republican nominees thought they were capable of winning the presidential election. This skit really made up for the Trump opening being so limited, it had all the political wit that I was expecting to see for the premiere. The first live skit was solid and unique, with an interesting 50’s high school dance theme, ala “Grease.” The concept was pretty hokey, with Miley Cyrus playing a 00’s era rapper who seems so out of place in the setting, but it did feature new cast member Jon Rudnitsky, and I thought it was hilarious that some of his first scenes on the show featured Miley licking his face. Welcome to the show Jon, it gets weird sometimes, but you seem to fit right in with the cast! Of course, the moment that this show probably is going to be remembered for was the skit where the real Hillary Clinton played a bartender opposite Kate McKinnon’s Hillary impersonation. It was a nice cultural moment for sure, even though Hillary has done this before. The best moment for me was when Kate’s Hillary reminisced about not changing her mind on gay marriage sooner. Hillary’s Val character says she came around at a reasonable rate, but Kate’s character was quick to assure her she could’ve been a bit quicker, in a nice wink-wink moment that actually proved to the one of the funniest single moments of the night. I thought it was really fun to see a politician come on the show and get so involved as to play a separate character for an entire skit, so props to Hillary for being part of the show and being a good sport about it.
While I usually like to take a second and comment on the musical guest for any episode, I really wasn’t all that interested in Miley’s performances. I thought her costume designs and those of her backing band were just plain bizarre, and kind of distracted from the music, which didn’t catch my ear either. Really nothing to report on Miley as a musician, she’s just not my cup of tea I guess, but she’s been a solid host for the last few years, so obviously she’s worth the time. Fortunately, my apathy was quickly over once Weekend Update started, because Colin Jost and Michael Che put on a great performance in their first Update segment of the new season. The two of them seemed to really have a solid back and forth this week, embracing the odd couple kind of thing they’ve got going. Of course the real stars of update this week were my favorite correspondents, resident young person Pete Davidson and relationship expert Leslie Jones. The two of them are great in their Update sots, and are frequently the highlights of Weekend Update when they’re featured. Davidson’s commentary on Trump, likening him to Sanjaya from American Idol was some of the best material from the entire show, and getting to see Leslie and Colin Jost interact is always priceless, leading to a really great Weekend Update segment for the first go of the season.
This was a really great debut for SNL’s 41st season on air; about as good as I could’ve anticipated. It was well-written, well-acted, featured a good performance from the host, and even featured a special cameo from a major political figure. SNL really hit the ground running this season, and the way everything went this week has got me excited for this coming Saturday’s edition, featuring stand-up comedian and actress Amy Schumer. Having a comedic mind like Amy’s on the show should make for a real fun show; she’s definitely going to bring an edge to the show regardless of how everything turns out. SNL is off to a wonderful start; I’m very pleased with the premiere and am looking forward to a season’s worth of laughs!