Bad Bunny Outshone Bad Writing on 'Saturday Night Live'

October 21, 2023

Photo: Mary Ellen Matthews / NBC

BY Vish KhannaPublished Oct 22, 2023

On double-duty, Bad Bunny did a fine job as host and musical guest, and while he outshone some lazy writing, anyone would've had trouble standing out next to guest stars like Mick Jagger, Pedro Pascal and Lady Gaga. Even Fred Armisen showed up to make this a Spanish-centric SNL. Here's everything that happened this week.

The Cold Open

Mikey Day appeared as pathetic multi-loser Jim Jordan, who lamented repeatedly biffing his Speaker of the House nomination, and he was consoled by some other visiting losers like Bowen Yang's George Santos, Chloe Fineman's Lauren Boebert and James Austin Johnson's phenomenally spot-on Donald Trump, whose pop culture tangents are funny and whose cadence is getting eerily closer to the real thing with each new appearance.

The Monologue

Looking a bit like the boy band caricatures from Mr. Show with Bob and David, Bad Bunny came out playing up his confidence as a Spanish speaker whose English is just fine. After actually speaking in Spanish for a bit, he sought a translator in none other than Pedro Pascal, who also provided some hosting advice. After a lot of innuendo and playful back-and-forth, this teetering monologue still got the in-house audience hyped for the show.

Rap Battle

Emulating the classic 8 Mile climactic scene, Kenan Thompson played the host of a rap battle between Walter Whiteboy (Mikey Day) and Fuego (Bad Bunny). Like Bunny Rabbit in 8 Mile, Walter tried to upend things by highlighting his own flaws, but they were so depressingly disturbing that even Fuego felt bad for Walter, which was somewhat amusing.

The Age of Discovery

In a Spanish remote featuring a cameo by Fred Armisen, explorers return home from a failed mission to face an angry prince and king, unimpressed by their findings, which include a turkey, a camel, tobacco, tomatoes, cigars and gold. Given the period piece and staging, this was rather elaborate for such a slight bit.

El Pasión de las Padillas

A Spanish soap opera scene featuring two characters in a heated argument was usurped by a non-Spanish speaking actress who played a maid. Featuring Bad Bunny and Marcello Hernández as the warring characters and Punkie Johnson as the maid, things were getting sillier when all of a sudden the real Mick Jagger showed up as the boys' Spanish father (kind of dressed in his "Under Cover of the Night" video outfit) and whupped them both. This was sort of good, actually.

please don't destroy: Shrek Script

The boys were baffled by Bad Bunny, who turned up in a full Shrek costume and was passive aggressively insisting upon some kind of outlet for his Shrek script treatment. All manner of chaos ensued as the boys tried to help him fulfill his twisted vision, which was strange and funny.

Bad Bunny

Dressed like Andrew Dice Clay, Lady Gaga introduced Bad Bunny, who appeared on a washed-out white set, with a mechanical horse that kids might've once ridden outside of a department store. As the horse bucked, Bad Bunny sang "UN PREVIEW" passionately over a canned beat. In terms of a spectacle, this was very short and both something and nothing.

After two tuxedo-clad violinists began playing a hook in front of a darkened screen, a Last Summer scene became visible with Bad Bunny dead centre, flanked by spooky-looking masked men, who wore suits and some semblance of the Spider-Man mask, and then either sat stock-still or else gesticulated wildly to the skittering beat of "MONACO." In the midst of all this, Bad Bunny rapped and sang soulfully in Spanish, feeling himself and enjoying his moment.

Weekend Update

Colin Jost led off Update by making fun of President Joe Biden's "Don't" speeches about attacks against Israel, while Michael Che skewered Jim Jordan's week of losing by mostly making fun of his competitors. Jost struggled through some Trump jokes until he hit paydirt with a Jesus bit, before Che made a pretty funny Clarence Thomas dig.

Jost satirized Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears's recent headlines, before Che introduced Ego Nwodim, who appeared as the insufferable Jada Pinkett-Smith, who'd been on an annoying media blitz for her new tell-all memoir. As such, Nwodim parodied Pinkett-Smith perfectly annoyingly.

Che made a dark joke about NYC and climate change before Jost covered a Tennessee headline with such a bad punchline, Che admonished the crowd for cheering for it. Jost tried again by going in on the recent "48 oysters" story — but also, no, not really, also not working. It was actually a rather weak installment generally and ended suddenly with a limp headline bit.

Luis Loves White Girls

New SNL featured player Chloe Troast was cast in this familiar bit for Marcello Hernandez, in which he played Luis, a young man bringing his white girlfriend home to his Spanish family, including his aunt, played by Bad Bunny, and his mother, played by Pedro Pascal. Sort of cloying but also rather charming, this had some fun moments.

The Right Track

This remote recalled a recent bit on the show, where serious and dramatic acting was set in front of a chaotic backdrop, like a riotous Waffle House or, in this case, a bonkers Subway car, where all hell broke loose, as Devon Walker and James Austin Johnson played business people, obliviously engaged in a morality play, all of which, was fairly funny (again).

Sister Act 3: Kevin Gone Wild

A nunnery was thrown into a tizzy when it was reported that a man had been posing as a nun. As the scene played out, it was clear that the man had also been taking advantage of his status, much to the sexual satisfaction of the repressed nuns. Featuring Bad Bunny and Mick Jagger, this was both juvenile and also had a surprising twist, in which an octogenarian is as sexually potent as a young Spanish man.

Burt's Bees

At an office meeting, Burt's Bees employees discussed how their company was recently bought out by Jergens, and while Enrique (Bad Bunny) was quite fixated on his daughter's forthcoming nuptials and wedding plans, Mikey Day's team leader tried to brace the staff, especially Enrique, who bore some resemblance to comedian Joe Pera, for some infrastructural changes. Not a bad time-killer for the end of the night.

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