Published Feb 10, 2019Halsey was a rather dynamic host and musical guest and the writers gave her a lot to work with on a solid episode. Here's everything that happened on Saturday Night Live this week.
The cold open
In a Meet the Press spoof, Kyle Mooney played Chuck Todd and was joined by a panel comprised of Kenan Thompson's Eugene Robinson, Cecily Strong's Peggy Noonan, and Leslie Jones' Donna Brazile. Following the strange news headlines, Todd encourages the respected journalists to contemplate what Jeff Bezos' penis looks like. After some untoward back-and-forth, Kate McKinnon's Wilbur Ross appeared, speaking like a dystopian billionaire who engages in penis swapping with the homeless. Aidy Bryant played Lex Luthor lookalike Matt Whittaker to make a giant revelation about the Mueller probe but, in keeping with this soft-boiled satire of the media, was cut off when the Bezos dick pics surfaced.
Singer Halsey appeared onstage and briefly mocked her New Jersey roots. In a short monologue, she took a moment to shout out past female cast members she looked up to, garnered some requisite applause, and then wrapped up quickly.
This funny old idea returned with an Empire-esque take on the Trump crime family's transgressions, as filtered through a lens that turns the entire crew black. Kenan Thompson's Darius Trump talks a big game just like his source, Donald, does, but the realties of a black man trying to talk himself out of being arrested or caught make his boasting short-lived in an abrupt and obvious way. This was always a good premise and was strong again.
This sharp, funny piece found a large group of white Virginia political figures and lawmakers haplessly attempting to defend themselves for wearing blackface in public. Kenan Thompson plays their frustrated colleague, who can't seem to convince them that wearing blackface is bad, even if it was in the '80s.
I Don't Want to Think About You
A very funny music video about Valentine's Day and how inappropriate it is to hear from certain people on this sexy holiday. Halsey, Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, and Kenan Thompson played the pop/R&B group singing about how weird it is for your mom, your boss or your son to wish you well on Valentine's Day when you're trying to get into a romantic mindset and the level of horniness versus off-putting here was pretty hilarious.
A call from the parents
Mikey Day plays an architect named Randy trying to do his job when his day is interrupted by a call from his parents, played by Halsey and Beck Bennett. While his folks seem keen to know how the grill they got him is working out, Randy is more concerned about the vague and varied information he's getting from his parents about breaking their legs and arms and getting shot and falling down a hole in their house. This was a vintage Day piece and worked well as a bit of exasperated absurdism.
Women of Congress
A short remote, Halsey and the female cast portrayed some of the most prominent members of the U.S. congress and the senate. Aside from some strong impersonations and a brief bit showcasing how much they despise their president, despite celebrating an important and substantive demographic shift, as comedy, this was a slight and inconsequential thing.
The host performed a sparse song called "Without Me," accompanied by a piano player and bolstered by a busy, graphic-oriented backdrop full of personal messages. The stark arrangement was designed to showcase her voice and range and it likely did that, even if the song itself entered the ever widening void of forgettable pop music.
In a very impressive move, Halsey sang "Eastside," a bouncy hip-hop-oriented song, while simultaneously painting a large portrait of a woman in real-time on a giant canvas draped on the floor. It's rare to see a musician do something that's never been done on the show before but Halsey surely accomplished this, during a pretty heartfelt and infectious song.
For perhaps the first time in their tenure as co-hosts, Colin Jost ceded the top of Update so that Michael Che could begin the segment and deal with the weird week in black people news: Virginia Governor Northam having to apologize for photos of him in blackface; Liam Neeson's disastrous and unprompted admission that he once contemplated hunting and beating a random black man; the fact that rapper 21 Savage was detained by ICE and deported for being British; and Gucci's odd blackface sweater. This was a solid and amazing run of jokes.
Jost also went after Northam and then dug into the Jeff Bezos dick pic scandal. Che made some good jokes about Trump's State of the Union address and Jost speculated about how ridiculous Trump's tax returns must be. Melissa Villaseñor appeared at the desk to make her Grammy picks and, as Jost observed, seemed to be dressed like Lady Gaga. Jost called her on just trying to sneak in a Gaga impression, which she did credibly with a little help from Kyle Mooney as Bradley Cooper. Mikey Day and Heidi Gardner turned up to play an Instagram couple, Nico Slobkin and Brie Bacardi, on hand to offer Valentine's Day advice. Though their handle is OnceUponASnuggle and they convey insufferable, perfect romantic harmony, they explode in a raging argument and can't complete the segment. On a busy Update, Alex Moffatt reprised his incredible Guy Who Owns a Boat, a monumental douchebag who stops by to offer dating tips. It's almost poetry, what the writers and Moffat convey with this compellingly terrible guy who is 110 percent obnoxious.
This was not good. Halsey, Melissa Villaseñor and Cecily Strong played three women pledging for a sorority, which entails doing a bunch of humiliating and shitty things. While singing 4 Non Blondes' "What's Up," the trio also bother male patrons at the bar with stunts like knocking their food on the floor and making one of them own a macaw for the rest of their lives. Designed to be random, this was also grating.
Black History Month
A very funny idea, the show's black cast members attempt to celebrate Black History Month and the legacy of black comedians on SNL only to be interrupted by Kyle Mooney and then Beck Bennett, who do their best to "help" their colleagues. From the looks of disbelief to the nonsense the white dudes were spewing, this was all inspired and great.
An unemployed man played by Kenan Thompson is out to dinner with his family when he's recognized for appearing as a live camera porn model. His family is initially mortified by this discovery but after hearing about how much money he's making and how much pride he has in dipping his bare ass into cakes, they can't help but support him. Mostly a performance piece, this worked well thanks to Thompson, Leslie Jones and Chris Redd in particular.
In a scene being filmed for Riverdale, Pete Davidson plays a corpse in a morgue. As the actor, Davidson emits dead body sounds and spasms — realism that is not desired by the scene's director, played by Kenan Thompson. That tension was the underlying premise here though it all mostly rested on Davidson, who managed not to break for once, and played his guy vaguely British just to up his fastidious pretension.