The cast members of Saturday Night Live kicked off Season 41 with a clear agenda. They love Hillary Clinton, hate Donald Trump and are not afraid to assert their liberal street cred. This was a great start to a promising season and a particularly smart episode of SNL.
Miley Cyrus was the perfect person to host the season opener. This was Miley’s third time hosting and, even if you hate her, you have to admit she’s good at it. She’s a natural performer who doesn’t seem to get tripped up by the cue cards like some hosts do. Besides, how many SNL hosts are popular enough to have their own drinking game? A bunch of people probably tuned in just to see if she was going to reference her beef with Nicki Minaj. Spoiler Alert: She didn’t.
Here are some of the high (and low) points of the season premiere episode:
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) October 4, 2015
The first set of Trump jokes of the night (and they were the first of many) focused on his hypocrisy. Taran Killam played him as a man who would say anything to get elected, including railing against immigration while sitting next to his immigrant wife (Cecily Strong). Killam might have stolen some of Trump’s soul and incorporated it into his own while preparing this impression (not that Trump has any to spare). Killam is uncannily good at playing the reality star. But as many Trump impressions as comedians have done over the years, no show has quite captured the ridiculousness of his hair. Killam’s wig looked almost reasonable in comparison to Trump’s.
Miley in an old-time synchronized swimming cap singing My Way while visually referencing the assholes of summer is genius. Because, while we absolutely needed to see Aidy Bryant’s Kim Davis impression, we really did not need to see an entire scene about her, or any of the people mentioned. Also, Miley’s voice is so beautiful when she does covers.
Fake commercial for a real drug
Comparing half of the Republican candidates to Alzheimer’s patients by insinuating they need schizophrenia medication because they are delusional to think they can be president certainly makes a political statement. But Abilify is a real drug. And none of the people who take it deserve to be compared to Bobby Jindal. No one deserves to be compared to Bobby Jindal.
Is it sexist to say HRC looked great? Instead of just doing a gimmick appearance, Hillary Clinton actually acted in one of the best sketches of the night. She’s great on camera, has a good sense of humor and possesses pretty decent comic timing. When Kate McKinnon (as Clinton) pointedly says that she could have supported gay marriage sooner and Clinton (as Val the bartender) agrees, it’s hilarious. It also shows that Clinton is willing to change her mind, can take criticism and has a sense of humor about herself.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 4, 2015
Clinton also did a short Trump impression, which was funny, but the best part about it was probably the way she introduced it:
“Donald Trump? Isn’t he the one who’s like, ‘Ugh, you’re all losers’?”
It was as if he were so far beneath her that she wasn’t entirely sure who he was. That brilliance was immediately topped by McKinnon doing her trademark Clinton crazy eyes and vowing to beat Donald Trump and “mount his hair in the Oval Office.” McKinnon is clearly going to be the standout star of this season, and she really brought out a charming, fun and adorable side of the former secretary of state.
Did anyone ever think that we would see Hillary Clinton introduce Miley Cyrus? Or that Miley would be dressed like she’s playing Fantine in a particularly ambitious liberal arts college production of Les Misérables set underwater? But Miley proved again what a great singer she is, and Karen Don’t Be Sad is such a good song that by the end of it, the wig even started to make sense.
Colin Jost and Michael Che’s delivery was on point. They looked so much more comfortable than last season. Weekend Update is in the unenviable position of having to do topical jokes once a week, while all the other late-night shows beat SNL to the punch Monday through Friday. But the SNL writers found some great original jokes this week. Like this one from Che:
“Of course the pope would meet with Kim Davis. That’s his job. He’s the pope. He gives hope to the hopeless — the prisoners, the sick, John Boehner. The pope should be with people who need God the most. If I was pope, I’d be eating Subway sandwiches with Bill Cosby right now… We’d have a lot to talk about.”
But one thing that fell flat was Kyle Mooney as the pope.
Meanwhile, the Saturday Night Live staff apparently thinks Pope Francis is Italian
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) October 4, 2015
Does Pete Davidson still have a job where all he has to do is come out and “be young” on Weekend Update once a month? Meanwhile, Leslie Jones’ relationship expert should probably get her own show. Be prepared for women to start texting, “When you comin’ to get this ass?” SEND.
When Harry met Leslie
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) October 4, 2015
Leslie Jones is a dream. This entire episode was worth it just to see her in this sketch. Just… just watch it. Vanessa Bayer’s Billy Crystal impression, and the awkward banter between all the ladies, was a delight.
‘Too Late with Ruby Nichols’
Saturday Night Live taking on the whiteness (and maleness) of late night is a little ironic considering the show only hired Leslie Jones and Sasheer Zamata after being pressured to diversify. The show also doesn’t currently have any cast members of any ethnicity other than black or white. But, it’s still a good topic for SNL to take on — especially because Jones was cast as the host, letting her stand-up skills shine:
“They had a big Hollywood movie opening last night, Vertigo. Did anyone see it? You did? Well, I didn’t. Because they wouldn’t let me in the theater. They wouldn’t even let me in the front entrance of this theater, and this is my show… Makes me deeply sad.”
Leslie’s delivery was spot on. She’s really hit her SNL stride. As is typical for the sketches that late in the night, this one could have used a little editing. But all the performances were great. And what is so smart about the commentary was how they used the clip to show that adding diversity to late night wouldn’t solve the overall diversity problem in Hollywood.
The bottom line
Best of the Night: Hillary Clinton as Val the bartender, Leslie Jones re-enacting sex with her brother’s husband and Miley Cyrus rapping while dressed like a pink lady. Bonus points for Jon Rudnitsky’s first episode, which involved having his ear eaten out by Miley Cyrus.
Weirdly Boring: The Millennials. Making fun of millennials is so gender lazy.
Why? Dear God, Why?: Miley’s second musical performance. Miley pulled her shiny garbage wig back into a sensible ponytail, and we found out that she plays the piano. Why is Miley Cyrus yelling at me even though I haven’t done anything wrong?
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) October 4, 2015