We open with a new episode of Oops, You Did It Again, a talk show in which Brittany Spears (Chloe Fineman) judges whether social outcasts are “innocent or not so innocent.”
His first guest is rapper Lil Nas X (Chris Redd), under attack from “the rare combination of the Catholic Church and Nike” for his “Satan Shoes” and the video in which he gives the devil a lap dance. To balance things out, Brittany turns to God so the rapper can twerk into her lap. Conservative false outrage signal on Sunday. It is followed by canceled Looney Toons star Pepe LePew (Kate McKinnon), drawn from the Space Jam sequel for “promoting a culture of assault.” Given that the show acknowledges the silliness of the Lil Nas X controversy, you’d think they’d send the furore over a cartoon skunk. Instead, they are based on the supposedly troublesome nature of the character.
Spears’ third and final guest is Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz (Pete Davidson), who was revealed to be under investigation for allegations of sex trafficking. The young Republican star is nervous about her future in the face of such accusations, which the real Gaetz denies, even as he admits that “strangely, in my district, they could help.”
It’s completely baffling that the show pulls Davidson out in a bad wig to make a half impression when Colin Jost, who looks like the congressman and has the same frat boy frat air, is just there. Let SNL block the easiest placement in years.
Our host is Oscar-nominated actor Daniel Kaluuya, who, despite his accent, assures the audience that he is black, saying “I’m basically what the royal family feared the baby would look like.” After explaining the difference between British racism and American racism (the former is “so bad the whites left”) and recounting the technical difficulties that beset his Golden Globes victory speech, he tells a heartfelt story about how it was his first time on stage for a play he wrote at the age of nine, based on Keenan Thompson’s Nickelodeon show, Keenan & Kel.
Will you take it away? is a game show in which Kaluuya’s host doctor tries to convince his family to get vaccinated for Covid-19 by offering $ 5,000. Even though all of them are high risk and need money, they refuse. Her aunt Shana refuses because Facebook told her that Christians cannot get vaccinated; his cousin Tasha blames black communities for America’s history of experimentation. To his cousin, even the exasperated host concedes, “Okay, you’re not wrong.”
A popular YouTube duo continues to go viral for their pranks, including planting mouse bones in cereal, only to backfire when their story is exposed. In a series of increasingly ridiculous apology videos, they acknowledge “that some of [their] Past videos could be considered problematic and / or crimes ”. It’s a solid shipment of a trend, including the shrimp tail boy saga, but it can’t match reality out of absurdity or irony.
Next, McKinnon plays a suburban mother who after her suggestion of Rummikub is banned for game night after dinner, takes revenge with passive-aggressive noises and binge-drinking Josh wine, “the official wine of Rummikub.” This is followed by another post-dinner suburban sketch in which three couples join their college-age children. A couple, from Uganda, are horrified to learn that their son switched his career from medicine to creative writing. When a white father says that the world needs more poets, the indignant patriarch of Kaluuya responds: “Yes, if there is one thing we learned from the pandemic, it is that the world needs more poets!” There is a real specificity to humor, which one must assume comes from the experience of Kaluuya.
St Vincent is the musical guest, performing the glamorous Pay Your Way in Pain. Weekend Update then begins with Jost talking about Gaetz, who admits that “it looks like a cartoonist’s drawing of me,” making Davidson’s casting even more egregious. He points to the hypocrisy of the right-wingers: “A sitting congressman is being charged with child trafficking, and the people of QAnon are suddenly saying, ‘Hey, I need more evidence.’
The first guests are Smokey Farms owners Vaneta and Wylene Starkie (McKinnon and Aidy Bryant), who promise that their “Grade A Easter meats” come from animals that deserved to be slaughtered: a lamb that attended a wedding at a plantation, a hen that “contributed to a toxic work environment,” a calf that “jerks off on the subway.” They are followed by smoothie Guy Who Just Bought a Boat (Alex Moffat), available to discuss subsequent appointments to the pandemic (“Bye Facetime, hello, time to sit on my face!”), and a very mixed age couple, Heidi Gardner and Mikey Day.
After a nonsensical sketch about frat boys planning a trip to Tahoe with their mothers, Kaluuya plays a dog owner who offends other owners with a goofy impression of his stray dogs. This leads to a showdown with Andrew Dismukes over Ego Nwodim’s affections, only for her to skip the two. There’s a decent punchline, but it gets swept up in awkward staging. Using real dogs doesn’t help.
St Vincent returns for The Melting of the Sun, before the final sketch finds another group of suburban friends gathering for wine. Things take a strange turn when the host’s half-brother (and “complete Facebook friend”) and his future ex-wife, Joleen (“like the bitch in the song”), perform some free-form jazz. From the way Cecily Strong is dressed, this would appear to be an elaborate video from 2011 in which Kim Cattrall shows off her scat skills. SNL with finger on pulse, as always.
Kaluuya was responsible for a few bright spots, but most of the episode left a lot to be desired. The sheer laziness on display, the refusal to make the most of the cast, the over-reliance on a handful of tired setups, underscores one of the biggest issues with SNL right now.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism