Saturday Night Live: Oscar Isaac & Charli XCX

March 5, 2022

Photo: Mary Ellen Matthews / NBC

BY Vish KhannaPublished Mar 6, 2022

Oscar Isaac was a highly enthused host and generous performer, and Charli XCX was effectively over-the-top in her two musical performances, plus a cameo in a good sketch. Pete Davidson was missing again completely and other regulars barely made it on air in what was a solid Saturday Night Live. Here's everything that happened on SNL this week.

The cold open

Fox News hosted a fundraiser for oligarchs at Mar-a-Lago, as commandeered by Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, who were portrayed rather excellently by Kate McKinnon and Alex Moffat, respectively. After a shot of James Austin Johnson manning the phones as Donald Trump, Bowen Yang's Steven Segal appeared to explain Vladimir Putin's mindset, and then there was an awkward duet between a coked up Donald Trump Jr. (Mikey Day) and his wife Kimberly Guilfoyle (Cecily Strong). This was just an opening act for the senior Trump, who sang a Neil Hamburger-esque "My Funny Valentine" directly to Putin. Busy and eventful, this was a solid open.

The monologue

Oscar Isaac bounded out for his first-ever hosting turn and immediately charmed the crowd. After referencing his half-Cuban and half-Guatemalan heritage and how he's perceived in Hollywood, Isaac did a rather remarkable thing by screening clips from his film The Avenger, which he himself wrote, directed and starred in when he was 10 years old. Cute but also inspiring, Isaac really did win everyone over with this excellent monologue.

Paw Patrol

Isaac played a politician running a negative ad against the mayor of the children's cartoon Paw Patrol. Really, though, it was an attack against the entire series. It likely means that at least one SNL writer has a child who just discovered Paw Patrol and is running the house mad with a relentless rotation of episodes of the popular dog-centric animated show, inspiring this satirical send-up of its lack of logic.

Inventing Chloe

In this remote, Chloe Fineman took on all of the psychological attributes and indiscernible accent of Inventing Anna's Anna Delvey, which led her to boss everyone in the cast and crew around in an insufferable but effective way. Fineman was great in this rather meta sketch that showed off some backstage life at SNL, and it was all quite funny.


A Human Resources gathering in an office delved into harassment, as facilitated by characters named Donald and Maria, played by Isaac and Cecily Strong. After saying and doing a lot of terrible stuff that offended the staff, the duo revealed that they weren't HR reps after all, which gave this sexualized bit an amusing twist.

Green Ribbon

In this excellent remote, Sarah Sherman and Chris Redd played characters on their, like, 30th date, when he finally asked her why she always wore a green ribbon around her neck. It is soon revealed that most of her body is covered in strange growths, which resemble meatballs and tend to sing, talk and spurt up slime (or, like Charli XCX, play a keytar and take the lead vocal on a song). Inventive and Tim Burton-y, this was compelling, weird and funny, like most things Sherman makes often are.

Charli XCX

After missing her original performance date due to a December COVID outbreak, Charli XCX finally made it to the SNL stage, outfitted in a costume with exaggerated flourishes and displays of skin. Charli danced and gave her all to a performance of the slight "Beg for You."

Returning in an even more revealing bikini-with-tassels costume and flanked by two dancers and a full band, Charli brought the energy up even more with the very unsubtle "Baby," which had a new wave/disco vibe and was enhanced by the frenetic choreography and the aforementioned tassels. In its overt sexuality, with threat-like boasts of romantic conquest, everything about this song and its performance seemed like a laughable parody of desire. It was engaging and infectious, as far as over-the-top sex pop goes.

Weekend Update

Colin Jost and Michael Che each began their first Update runs with some funny jokes about the American response to the Ukraine conflict. There were some sardonic takes on the lifting of mask mandates and vaccine passports before Kate McKinnon appeared at the desk as herself to initially celebrate a new "Don't Say Gay" bill, before Jost explained to her that it was actually a terrible thing, and then she said the word gay a lot.

Che got a groan or two for jokes about polar bears going extinct and racism, while Jost did a riff on the recent Wheel of Fortune/Pat Sajak social media fiasco, which was funny. Che then introduced the perpetually pregnant Pauline, played by Ego Nwodim, who came by to lament how nice Rhianna looks with her baby bump. Showing photos of a barely clad Rhianna, Pauline hilariously described one of her black lace outfits as something one might wear at a "sex funeral." Between Nwodim's delivery and other good writing, this worked well.

The Sexual Woman

In an unusual intro to this sketch, Aidy Bryant told us that after playing so many generic women on the show, she'd been rewarded with writing and staging a special sketch of her own. Bryant decided to go all out, making Isaac say and do all sorts of things, including "sitting his ass on her lap." Bryant is great and beloved, but the juvenile nature of this and its fourth-wall-coming-down gimmick grew more tedious as it went on and on.

In Over Your Head

Appearing in his 1500th SNL sketch, Kenan Thompson played Gus, the host of a show that highlighted terrible DIY home repairs gone really, really wrong. Kyle Mooney played a guy who opted to install a swimming pool in his yard by himself, which proved disastrous. Isaac turned up as a burnt out guy named Felix who tried to do his own electrical, and of course electrocuted himself and is no longer all that sentient. Eventually, Gus' wife, played by Ego Nwodim, appeared to reveal that Gus is a know-nothing repairman himself, which slowly led us to the end of this uneven bit that Isaac's strong turn couldn't save.

The Apogee of Midnight

At a gathering of aspiring writers meeting in a high school classroom, Aidy Bryant's facilitator invites the janitor Michael (Oscar Isaac) to read from his own notebook. Things are going well until Mike reads them a lurid story he wrote about encountering Dua Lipa and engaging in a make-out session. While the women in the group (beyond Bryant, we encountered the normally busy Heidi Gardner and Melissa Villaseñor in their most prominent roles on this episode) find it creepy and he is asked to stop, he is also somehow enabled to keep going with his strange fanfic pornography, all of which was somewhat funny.

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