America’s sweetheart Anne Hathaway hosted Saturday Night Live for the third time on Saturday night and proved once again to be a very competent sketch-player, like Justin Timberlake if instead of being incredibly likable, Justin Timberlake was mostly unlikeable for reasons you couldn’t really put your finger on but that, if you were pressed, you’d probably say stem from an ever-present tight desperation face and a forced sincerity that makes you think, “What is she covering up with that forced sincerity?” Her episodes have been surprisingly good in the past, but unfortunately this time around she could neither score a turkey NOR do a hat-trick, or get three baskets in a row, nor three touchdowns. It certainly wasn’t a bad episode, but I do think it was hit-or-miss all night, with the misses (for example, the “Girlfriends” sketch) being very big misses, and the hits never hitting quite as well as you’d hope. (With the possible exception of the Homeland sketch, which I will get to in a moment.) (And with the DEFINITE exception of Drunk Uncle, which I will also get to in a moment.) (Let’s get to the good things now, actually.)

I know I always complain about the monologue being a song (because seriously WHAT IS UP WITH THAT ALL THE TIME NOW?), but, oops, loved this one! Maybe all the song monologues should be to the tune of Broadway hits and everyone should sing them very well, until the end when everyone comes out and it all gets a little murky? Just an idea.

I have to say that much of the Homeland sketch was lost on me, as I have never seen an episode of Homeland. (I hear it’s good!) Though I can imagine that for a Homeland fan this sketch was very good. I at least understood the concept of the Claire Danes cry-face, which was perf.

I don’t know how I feel about “Mokiki.” My immediate reaction was that I wasn’t a fan, but I do think that I am being a little too harsh. Maybe I liked it a little? Did you like it? Did you LOVE it?

Weekend Update was good this week, with its Barack Obama appearance and especially with its Drunk Uncle appearance. Drunk Uncle definitely does basically the same shit every time he comes out, but every time he does that shit that shit is always THE BEST. (With the exception of the thing where he says the “twitter me, twitter me,” “spotify me, spotify me” bit — that can go and I’d definitely be OK with it.)

McDonalds Firing was good. I liked it. This and Drunk Uncle were probably the only sketches during which I LOL’d.

I definitely appreciated the American Gothic sketch. I’m glad it was in there.

And finally, Rihanna performed in what has definitely been my favorite performance of the season. That new-agey cheap projection stuff was the best, and she looked very beautiful and sounded amazing. It’s only too bad that I can’t listen to any of her songs without thinking about her continued involvement with Chris Brown and how upsetting it is. COME ON, RIHANNA!

Comments (30)
  1. Mokiki might have been better if it weren’t for the horrible “song”. Watching him dance was kind of funny. Loved the gay Mainers again.

  2. Rihanna discovered tumblr!

  3. Steve Winwood found her extremely likable for reasons he couldn’t really put his finger on but, if he were pressed, he would probably say it stems from the fact that “she’s pretty,”

  4. Windows 8.

    WINDOWS 8.

    WINDOWS 8 MY HOMEWORK.

    • Do you know what I hoard? 1950′s Playboys and dignity!

    • Did anyone else notice the conspicuously-placed laptop in the Homeland sketch that just so happened to be displaying the new Windows 8 desktop? I have to cry foul here and say that SNL got some product placement $$ from Microsoft for these mentions.

      Therefore, the next drunk uncle quip will be:
      Aflac
      AFLAC!
      AFLAC is fantastic supplemental insurance for you and your loved ones!

  5. ‘Homeland’ is p bad this season but the sketch chose some odd things to concentrate on. Is Damien Lewis’s daughter really like that, so much so that it’s a thing? IDK. (‘Show would be better if she got chased by a cougar’ – an older viewer who can remember ’24′.) Bill Hader was funny (and accurate) though.

  6. Mokiki felt like some Lonely Island also-ran; randomly weird without being somehow weird enough to sell me on the concept. I think they’re definitely missing that left-field Samberg influence on the show.

  7. Aw, I found the Girlfriends sketch a little endearing. Anne was kind of crappy in it but when Aidy Bryant said, “You’re name should be roach warehouse.” I don’t know I cracked up.

    I hope Sudeikis stays all season and gets to do all the stuff he hasn’t had time for all year before he leaves, like wacky dancing or being excited about a dumb thing like in the American Gothic sketch or those old dancing medieval guy sketches. He seems so happy when he doesn’t have to be Mitt Romney.

  8. I haaaaaate Jay Pharoah’s Obama impression. Maybe it’s because it’s mimicry instead of a caricature, but it just feel so goddamned exploitative. Like it was dreamt up by far-right Republicans.

    Like… the shit with the shoulders? The taunting grin and upturned nose? It belongs on that long defunct Fox News sketch show. The ENTIRE GAG now is that he’s black. And the politics (“end the military”? seriously?) are so far off the mark it’s scary. SNL is grasping at straws because they’ve never been able to get a handle on Obama- so they’re setting for a shucking, jiving, race-baiting version of him that’s more Al Sharpton than Barack. Pharoah should stick to his one-note Denzel Washington impersonation.

    I never thought I’d say it, but bring back Fred Armison.

    Sorry this comment wasn’t funny.

    • Totally agree

    • Yeah, Armisen never really pulled it off, but he was at least trying to do it right.

    • Just to offer up a counterpoint: What Presidential impression wasn’t some extreme stereotype/exaggeration of little things the president has done/does?

      Carvey’s Bush was a catchphrase-spewing, food-spewing, nerd robot. Hartman’s & Hammond’s Clintons were cocky, MacDonald’s eating, silver-tongued, southern hornballs. Ferrell’s George W. was a Texas-grilled man-child imbecile who hated being in charge of stuff. MacDonald’s Bob Dole was a pen-clutching antique from a bygone era. Hammond’s Al Gore said ‘Lockbox’ a lot.

      When Fred Armisen played Obama it looked like he was concentrating really hard on just trying to sound like him. Also, it’s not out of place to point out that there are writers on SNL. The ability of a Not Ready For Primetime Player to accurately nail down an impression of a celebrity probably affects how the writers feel they can write the character.

      • I mean yes? But those impressions take grains of something people pick up on and stretch them to the ridiculous point. No one has really done that with Obama. The Pharaoh exaggerations are weird ticks like the shoulder bouncing and the cheese grin that not only aren’t hallmarks of Obama, they have roots in black stereotyping that makes it feel even more off the mark to me. It’s tough because Obama’s sort of ticks are being level-toned and even and relaxed, which is sort of what pulled the rug out of what was considered a great impression by Armisen four years ago, and why the most memorable Barack sketch is probably him as Bill Cosby last year. he doesn’t have any false bravado or lecherousness or nerdiness or anything to really stretch, he’s just sort of a chill Dad figure.

        For me, the best Obama impression right now is Jordan Peele’s, which is very slightly smug, and even that really relies on Luther the Anger Translator to make it.

        • I mean thanks for the thoughtful reply, Messica?

        • The Pharaoh exaggerations are weird ticks like the shoulder bouncing and the cheese grin that not only aren’t hallmarks of Obama, they have roots in black stereotyping that makes it feel even more off the mark to me.

          EXACTLY THAT. Pharoah’s Obama pairs a passable vocal mimic with taunting minstrelsy.

      • I totally disagree. I think Armison’s Obama was exactly in the mold of Carvey’s Bush I or Ferrell’s Bush II. It was a caricature that ignored broad impersonation and instead isolated and mutated a few key characteristics- in Obama, namely his nebbishy intellectualism, calm and detachment. Armison also eventually got the voice down pretty well.

        The problem with that Armison’s was that it didn’t resonate with people’s actual experience of Obama. Obama’s problem, from a sketch show perspective, is that he’s actually COOL. Not in a surface or aesthetic sense, necessarily. In that sense he’s just sort of a nerdy dad and/or hardass professor. Obama’s cool is rooted in the fact that his entire public persona is based in the perception that he’s “in on the joke”. That he’s emotionally intelligent and naturally empathetic- but in a more earnest and organic way than Clinton’s “Ah feel your pain” version. This task is more like trying to lampoon John Stewart. You are not likely to succeed.

        SNL recognized this, so they switched over to Jay Pharoah’s. Pharoah’s Obama is closer to Hammond’s Clinton- it’s a mimic job. Except for Hammond, Clinton’s personality- extroverted, extemporaneous, gregarious- offered a broad surface on which to play. Obama offers none of that- very little defining body language or verbal ticks (beyond the occasional “uuh”), and because his entire persona is based on even-tempered, patient, post-racialism, there is not much skin to grab for comic purposes. Pharoah’s gets the voice dead on, but that’s where it ends. From there he has to construct a character that bears no resemblance to Obama, but rather reads as a the central character in a generic “Hey, what if the president was BLACK??” sketch from 10 years ago.

        And let’s also just cut to the chase- there has to be a bit more care taken in lampooning the first black president than with the 43rd white president. Armison’s sort of pan-racial aesthetic range as an actor made him uniquely qualified to play a president who is half white and half black. Pharoah, especially wearing that lightening makeup they put on him, can’t help but look like the crude Def Jam Obama of nursing home nightmares and fevered right wing fantasies.

        • I just want to state, for the record, Will Ferrell’s Bush hit the marks that made it a cutting satire of a garbage president in ways that pointed out that his policies were fucked up and he was an entitled frat boy. I also read that one of the reasons Ferrell quit when he did was because the writers weren’t hitting the political points as hard as they could and should have. I think that’s why Adam McKay left too.

          Obama is a likable guy. Jay Pharoah is grating, regardless of his impressions. Personally, I can’t stand Armison in anything either… but he did a much better job. And yeah, probably because Pharoah’s impersonation reminds me of something from Mad TV or Def Jam or some Obama caricature that would be dragged out in a Get ‘Er Done Romney Comedy Fundraiser.

        • I totally agree that care should be taken with the impersonation, and that Pharoah’s Obama is not where it’s at.

          Just to be crystal clear, I only wanted people yay’ing your comment to talk more about it, which is what my reply was about.

  9. McDonalds Firing was one of my favorite sketches of the season. The part about rehearsing it killed me.

  10. Why is the cold open not mentioned? Is it because we are all tired of talking about the election? I loved it!

  11. There’s so much I’d like to see and do… I’d like to learn how mayonaise is made.

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