Published Feb 04, 2018Natalie Portman was game and funny for her first hosting turn in 12 years, while Dua Lipa struggled to make an impression. Ahead of an Olympics-induced, month-long broadcast hiatus, here's everything that happened on Saturday Night Live this week.
The cold open
A glitch-y, ill-conceived Fox & Friends riff on the week in Trump, with Alec Baldwin making an appearance from his bedroom and calling into the show. Before Baldwin, Cecily Strong played an airhead Hope Hicks and Chris Redd appeared as Minister Louis Farrakhan, whose condemnation of the FBI spans decades but, despite Redd's ace impression, it was a strange bit of writing. Baldwin did his usual Trump, egomaniacal and dumb, but it was an ill-paced, long and unfunny sketch.
Natalie Portman made a joke about NBC overselling its upcoming Olympics coverage, which transitioned into an amusing sequence where her monologue became an Olympic event unto itself. Kenan Thompson and Kate McKinnon played commentators, assessing Portman's jokes and an instant replay had her perform some great physical comedy. Leslie Jones' field report upped the meta and, all told, this was an amusing idea, executed well overall.
The Patriots of New England
Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey made cameos for this play on the Pats-Eagles Super Bowl via a Bunker Hill war re-enactment. This Boston-Philly joke-off was full of regionalisms and had a certain cleverness to it that made up for some of its clumsiness and awkward staging and direction.
Stranger Things Season 3
What if all the Stranger Things kids' powers were absurd? That was the premise here and it yielded varied results. About the most amusing thing was Cecily Strong stifling laughter every time her character loudly farted, so that's all you really need to know about the effort that went into this.
Portman Portman Portman Portman
When Portman last hosted in 2006, her "Lonely Island Digital Short" rap became a Hall of Fame bit. She revisited the idea here, complete with an assist from Andy Samberg and, while there was no way to top the shock of the crass original, this was inspired and amazing in its own way, particularly for her willingness to savagely lampoon the Star Wars prequels.
🎤 Dua Lipa "New Rules" on SNL 💞 (full video) pic.twitter.com/qoFquabFdX— Dua Lipa Brasil (@SiteDuaLipaBR) February 4, 2018
In their quest to book younger artists, SNL has been offering prime time spots to musicians who don't always seem ready for the exposure. Dua Lipa fit this bill to a tee. Her first song, "New Rules" was half-baked, high-school-talent-show level pop drek with some real dance-like-nobody's-watching moves to bust out for an internationally broadcast TV appearance.
🎤 Dua Lipa "Homesick" on SNL 💞 (full video) pic.twitter.com/IWRvAr4KoQ— Dua Lipa Brasil (@SiteDuaLipaBR) February 4, 2018
The predictable ballad that marked her second performance, "Homesick," was almost sickly, with Lipa mumbling every chorus in an unremarkable voice that had all the hallmarks of a later week American Idol audition. Not good.
Michael Che and Colin Jost took on the infamous memo, but they didn't really bite down with teeth. Next was the State of the Union speech, which led to a really funny barrage against Trump. Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong appeared as actresses Brigette Bardot and Catherine Deneuve to elaborate upon their criticisms of the #metoo movement, absurdly sending up their bizarre defense of men. Jost got in a good couple of digs at The Passion of the Christ sequel news, which led to a funny, unscripted exchange between him and Che. Pete Davidson recounted his experience shooting a Dockers ad for the Super Bowl, which was weird. Kenan Thompson's optimistic neighbour Willie did a desk piece, rambling about sex dolls and domineering puppies, which luckily didn't last long.
In a strange but compelling physical sketch, Beck Bennett played an alien who believes his face is his butt and his butt is his face, and reveals this during a date with a space captain played by Portman. This was all on Bennett, who did some amazing ass flexing to make it seem like he was taking out of his butt, and kudos too to Portman for making it all the way through this silly thing without collapsing in hysterics.
Kids Choice Awards
A pretty funny idea finds a kids choice award show telecast disrupted by a host suddenly losing her voice. Portman plays the bubbly personality who struggles to fulfill her role and is given a voice modulator and steroids to try to get her back on track, all to horrific effect.
The night of the SOTU, a downcast Melania Trump is visited by FLOTUSs past who each offer her moral support. In a nod to her acclaimed film portrayal, Portman played Jackie Kennedy, who tried to commiserate with a fellow cheated-on political wife. Kate McKinnon's Hillary Clinton also re-appeared to complain about losing the presidency and, for good measure, Aidy Bryant played Martha Washington and Leslie Jones was Michele Obama for a full on First Lady fest. Not a lot here, but it was a cool stunt sketch.
A new character for Aidy Bryant, Bunny imposes upon a trio of young women out for drinks who are lamenting their respective love lives. To round out episodes, SNL often leans on some sort of "weirdo-at-a-bar" premise and Bunny, a hardscrabble 27-year-old maneater, is the latest to push the limits of decorum by frankly offering sex advice. In lesser hands, this would've been truly insufferable, but Bryant is such a strong, all-in performer, she made this entertaining.