boygenius and Timothée Chalamet Gave It Their All but Couldn't Save 'SNL' from Itself

November 11, 2023

Photo: Mary Ellen Matthews / NBC

BY Vish KhannaPublished Nov 12, 2023

In his second turn hosting, Timothée Chalamet was excitable but also a tad unfocused as a performer (the same could be said for this week's sketches), while boygenius paid homage to one of the most earth-shattering televised musical performances ever, to exemplify what a huge deal it was for them to be on Saturday Night Live. Here's everything that happened on SNL this week.

The Cold Open

A send-up of the Republican Presidential Debate was dying hard when James Austin Johnson's Donald Trump froze them in place to criticize the proceedings and ramble on with strange insults and non-sequiturs. Johnson is great playing DJT but, given what an actual clown show the GOP is, there wasn't much fresh text needed (using the candidates' original statements were farcical enough) or much that wasn't already satirical enough.

The Monologue

Timothée Chalamet took to the stage to celebrate the end of the actors' strike, which meant actors could finally promote their films — like his own, Wonka. Performing an updated version of "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, Chalamet broke a few times because of how silly it was. Things escalated when a "baby face" rap occurred with Marcello Hernández, Punkie Johnson and Kenan Thompson joined Chalamet for raps that were both spirited and rote.

Museum of Hip-Hop

Ego Nwodim played the moderator of a hip-hop panel where Punkie Johnson played Mary J. Bilge, James Austin Johnson played Rick Rubin, Kenan Thompson played Cornel West and Chalamet reprised his previous SNL character, $mokecheddathaassgetta (sadly without his old wingman, who'd been depicted by former cast member, Pete Davidson). Like the last time, Chedda was a know-nothing, untalented white rapper who irritated everyone else, which was marginally amusing.

The Woman in Me

In this remote, Chloe Fineman played Britney Spears introducing a reel of outtakes from people auditioning to narrate the audiobook of her new memoir. This was long and jam-packed, so we mostly got micro-impressions. As a result, no one really popped, though props to Bowen Yang for bringing his Fred Schneider to the proceedings and to Molly Kearney for playing a viral photograph of Kevin James.

Shred Zone Gym

Heidi Gardner played Tracey, who'd mistakenly left a bag at the gym and tried calling the gym to inquire about it. Unfortunately, Tracey wound up talking to two employees, Brett and Keith, who were musclebound idiots played by Mikey Day and Chalamet, respectively, whose ability to communicate was so horrid that they could not help her. This was designed to be irritating, and the mission was accomplished.

Giant Horse

This was another callback to Chalamet's previous hosting turn. In this sci-fi remote, he played a character whose tiny horse became a giant horse but then became tiny again, just in the nick of time. That's the only way to explain this.


With men's suits and a set design paying homage to the Beatles' debut on The Ed Sullivan Show (complete with Phoebe Bridgers sporting a Rickenbacker like John Lennon's), an excited and happy boygenius bounded through "Not Strong Enough," which compensated for the muddy mix.

The seven-piece band were both poised and, again, super-stoked during the quiet/loud/fast/slow indie-rock roller coaster that was "Satanist," which was accentuated by moody lighting, camera work and a guitar that went flying through the air.

Weekend Update

Colin Jost went in on the recent Republican debate, making fun of Nikki Haley's awkward rebuke of Vivek Ramaswamy. Michael Che skewered corruption in the NYC mayor's office and suggested a new app might be trouble for unethical teachers. Later, he made a dark joke about a Titanic menu becoming an auction item, and Jost suggested Jared Leto might leap off the top of the Empire State Building to his gruesome death.

Heidi Gardner appeared as Crystal, a seemingly overworked women drowning in a remote work environment. Gardner was a marvel in this. And then, suddenly, a rather brief Update ended.

Troye Sivan: Sleep Demon

Sarah Sherman played Kayla, a patient at a sleep clinic, who sought the help of an expert, Dr. Yee, played by Bowen Yang. It turned out she was dreaming of Troye Sivan, as played by Chalamet. Featuring a cameo from boygenius, this was kinda like the old cheerleader sketches, but not as good.

please don't destroy: jumper

The destroy boys went out for a walk when they encountered a potential suicide jumper who fretted about his flailing music career. Played by Chalamet, the musician made bad, gurgle-y songs that mystified the boys. For a pdd joint, this was just okay.

Cassidy, the Unwanted

Chloe Troast played Cassidy, an unwanted orphan who sang (in several unrelated vocal styles) about her woes to the moon, which was played by Chalamet. Admitting she was 27 years old and singing erratically about having sex with gay gargoyles, Cassidy lost the support of the moon and her fellow orphans, all of which was rather amusing. Lorne Michaels clearly has high hopes for Troast because, for a newcomer, she's been starring in a number of sketches in her first season.

Calm App

Chalamet played himself, recording sleep stories for a mediation app. Things were going well until Chalamet stumbled upon a narrative about dog shit and then got into a tiff with one of the producers, played by Andrew Dismukes, who hoofed Chalamet in favour of the real-life Alec Baldwin, who was somewhat recently under investigation for accidentally shooting a coworker to death on a film set. With such baggage, Baldwin was not the calmest voice to fall asleep to, but clearly the show cast him in this brief appearance here to support an old friend.

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