Saturday Night Live: Scarlett Johansson & Niall Horan December 14, 2019

Saturday Night Live: Scarlett Johansson & Niall Horan December 14, 2019
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Scarlett Johansson was practically giddy and threw herself into her sixth turn hosting Saturday Night Live — and also really highlighted that its head writer, Colin Jost, is her fiancé — while Niall Horan was slightly more impressive in a sketch than in his musical performances. Here's everything that happened this week.

The cold open
 
A very funny sketch about Christmas dinner discussions with a cool twist at the end. Politically disparate families and less conventional groupings engaged in the news of the day from their own unique perspectives; skewering the right, the left, the woke, and most lovingly, the African-American experience, this was an amusing way of highlighting the differences between Americans, while also employing Greta Thunberg (Kate McKinnon) to take a pot-shot at the president.

The monologue
 
During an ambitious and multi-layered monologue, Scarlett Johansson involved the whole cast in an Avengers bit about the return of Thanos. With Kenan Thompson playing Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury and several allusions to her fiancé, Colin Jost, who participated, this was action-packed and hit all of its comedy marks.

Santa Land
 
At a mall, a Santa exhibit is high jacked by Those People, an abstract art-pop duo who sing some very questionable original songs. Kenan Thompson and Johansson played this odd couple, who sang about Santa's ass, Mrs. Claus having sex with elves, and Santa doing cocaine, each before a perplexed array of families, including a couple played by a bewildered Heidi Gardner and a very with it Beck Bennett. Great performances and writing made this really enjoyable.
 
Macy's
 
This fake ad for Christmas shopping for kids was clearly written by a parent or two. Capturing all the anguish and disappointment of trying to please children with clothing they will ultimately discard or hate (all of which seems to overheat them), this was an astute and accurate slice of parental life.
 
Charlie the Security Guard
 
At an office a day or two after a staff party, two employees face their peers to apologize for their hurtful statements and actions at said shindig, before they're dismissed from the company. Johansson played Linda and Kenan Thompson played Charlie, a security guard with an ass fetish. Each seems to have said and done terrible things, but everyone seems to be far easier on Charlie, an older black man who charms them. SNL has done this bit before and it's never really clear what its point of view is, other than sexual harassment by older dudes can be cute?
 
A Conway Marriage Story
 
In something of a meta bit, Johansson riffed on her new film Marriage Story, by playing a therapist for the infamously politically opposed couple, Kellyanne and George Conway. This remote really did capture the public perception of the Conways and touched upon some of the viral moments from the film and was a fine, short remote, but may well have been more depressing than funny.
 
Niall Horan
 
The former One Direction star appeared on a stylized set, surrounded by tube lights, and busted into a rote rock song called "Nice To Meet Ya." Paraphrasing the Rolling Stones' "Pleased to meet you/Won't you guess my name?" hook from "Sympathy for the Devil" and packaging it as an early '90s U2 B-side, this was derivative and slight.
 
Employing more clichés for his second performance ("Are you all dressed up and nowhere to go?") and occasionally even faltering, as a singer, Horan switched gears to go for more of a Michael Bublé thing with "Put a Little Love on Me," and it was rather forgettable.
 
Weekend Update
 
Colin Jost went in on the impeachment proceedings, notably making fun of Democrats for being feeble and short-sighted in their current approach to removing the President from office. Michael Che, in turn, made a good joke about how Barack Obama might have fared if his congress was packed with members of Wu-Tang Clan. Bowen Yang reprised his remarkable "Chinese trade daddy" Update guest, Chen Biao, but it wasn't quite as strong as his previous experience. Che destroyed with a Hallmark Channel joke, which was followed up by a strong "penis fish" bit by Jost.

Kyle Mooney was barely recognizable as Baby Yoda, whose streetwise, hip-hop posture surprised Che, but he quickly ran that premise (that young Yoda was nothing more than a hustler) into the ground here.
 
Haunted Hot Tub
 
While a couple, played by Ego Nwodim and Chris Redd, try to enjoy a soak in a hotel hot tub, they are soon haunted by the ghosts of two strippers, played by Johansson and Cecily Strong, and eventually Niall Horan as Jim, the owner of the strip club. As the trio sang a song about how they died, this sketch must have set a record for the longest gaps between laughs and dialogue in an SNL bit.
 
Hallmark Holiday Matchmaking Contest
 
In a clever idea, this matchmaking game show riffed on the idiotic premises of Hallmark movies by having the bachelors and the contestant all play to the network's tired archetypes. Johansson portrayed the object of the bachelors' affection, and the dudes themselves were either Christmas stereotypes or else idealized versions of men, which was a deep dig at Hallmark programming, and this all played out amusingly.
 
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
 
This thoughtfully disturbing remote riffed on the weirdness of this classic holiday song, by imagining mommy kissing Santa to satisfy voyeuristic kinks she shares with her husband. Cecily Strong played their daughter, singing the song with very funny and dark new lyrics, as the action played out via timeless imagery, which cast the supposed innocence of the song in a whole new light.

Choking
 
A NYC-centric premise, the models from an omnipresent poster about saving people in restaurants who are choking on their food, actually try and go out for a bite to eat. Unfortunately for the couple, played by Johansson and Bowen Yang, they draw out an array of crazed chefs from across the city that have stared at their image for so long, they've become obsessed with them. Again, this may have been funnier to a New Yorker familiar with these specific posters but it was still digestible enough and passable thanks mostly to Yang's performance.
 
Innotech
 
In a reprise of a bit from a previous Johansson guest turn, technologists exhibit a mind-reading device for animals, but the text subject dog, Max, flusters everyone with his political opinions. Johansson played the earnest scientist who is horrified by both Max's perspectives on American politics and his rampant disregard for her privacy, which was all just amusing enough for us.