Jenna Ortega Played Against Type in Solid 'SNL' Episode

March 11, 2023

Photo: Mary Ellen Matthews / NBC

BY Vish KhannaPublished Mar 12, 2023

Jenna Ortega was a great, dynamic host, playing up how she's perceived, and the 1975 rose to the occasion with their slick but loose brand of pop. Here's everything happened on Saturday Night Live this week.

The Cold Open

Ahead of Oscar Sunday, we got a parody of an Access Hollywood red carpet show, which mostly made fun of the very premise of such programming, with only a bit of bite at the Academy Awards themselves. Of the celebrity impressions here, Chloe Fineman did well with a Jamie Lee Curtis homage and Bowen Yang appeared as Tom Cruise but was really George Santos, all of which was fairly amusing. 

The Monologue 

Jenna Ortega briefly outlined her acting background, which included a Colgate commercial she shot as a child that was shown both in its original form and, in keeping with her reputation as a star of creepy TV shows and horror movies, as a scary piece of dental hygiene gone wrong. She welcomed her Wednesday co-star Fred Armisen on-stage for a brief bit of fun and then this breezy warm-up concluded. 

School vs. School 

Kenan Thompson played Jay McCormick, the host of a game show in which teachers and students teamed up to answer questions and win big money. While one team seemed normal enough, the other consisted of Professor Zander's Academy for Extraordinary  Children, which was a bizarre, X-Men-like freak show, in which Ortega and Mikey Day were particularly great.  

please don't destroy – Road Trip

Another week, another pdd set outside of the cozy confines of their office, this time consisting of a darkly fun, musical road trip with Ortega, which was great. 

Raymond the Body Double

In a remake of The Parent Trap, Bowen Yang's director is forced to employ a gruff man to run lines with Ortega's actor, but the guy, played by Armisen, is simply way too adult and strange to work with, and an odd choice to play a young girl. This was quite funny.


In this send-up of the MTV goofy videos show, Mikey Day played obnoxious host Rob Dyrdek and the panel included Ortega as an obliviously horrifying TikTok influencer. Her anecdotes disturbed everyone else so much, the funny video show was derailed, which was well-executed. 

Varsity Valley

In this remote, a melodramatic teen show was set in front of a Waffle House, and while Ortega and Marcello Hernandez acted out a heartbreaking scene, behind them, through the Waffle House windows, we could see all hell breaking loose among the staff and customers, which was funny.

The 1975

The bad boy slick pop of the 1975 translated well enough on the SNL stage, though "I'm in Love with You" had a kind of cloying, mainstream feel that at least had the audience screaming in appreciation. 

For "Oh Caroline," the band exhibited a dancier, yacht rock vibe, transporting us to 1985 perhaps? 

Weekend Update 

Colin Jost dug into the Oscars for a few decent jokes, while Michael Che made a couple of wisecracks about President Biden's new budget and fortune cookies. The pair traded barbs about Tucker Carlson, before Jost humorously engaged in RuPaul verbiage for a bit about the right-wing attack on drag shows.

Molly Kearney played Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, the anti-LGBTQ politician who made the news this week for liking Instagram posts by gay men, and made him out to be a bungling hypocrite.

Che made a dark Hurricane Katrina joke and got another groan laugh for a clever slavery bit. Before the end of update, James Austin Johnson spent a minute doing celebrity micro-impressions, which was quite great. 

Mrs. Shaw

Ego Nwodim played Mrs. Shaw, an upstairs neighbour who was kept up late by a priest and a family dealing with a possessed child played by Ortega. Where the priest failed, Mrs. Shaw dealt with the exorcism just fine, which was random and mildly amusing.  

Donalds & Dominguez

A law office believed that their success hinged on having a catchy jingle that incorporated their random phone number. Ortega and Bowen Yang played characters who brought in a bar band called Soulbooth, which consisted of Andrew Dismukes and James Austin Johnson singing stupid songs, which was somehow pretty good. 

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