Miley Cyrus has a big personality, as anyone who goes on the internet or turns on the TV even just occassionally knows. And that big, weed-loving, clothes-shunning personality is often the source of controversary — but that Miley was mostly absent for the season 41 premiere of SNL, which marked the third time the musician’s hosted since her first time around in 2011.
Sure, she rattled off a reference to her well-known affection for marijuana (“And although tonight I am on a seven second delay — not a television delay, it’s just when you smoke as much as I do, you’re always on a seven-second delay”) right off the bat, but then her monologue took a different turn: Miley Cyrus sang. In the background, basically. And it was pretty great.
Cyrus launched into a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” to bid farewell to those people and things from this past summer who don’t exactly deserve the honor of being remembered — Kim Davis, the donut that Ariana Grande licked, Jared Fogle, the Entourage movie — as the cast acted out silent impressions of the “honorees.” Although this initially felt like it was going to be a run-of-the-mill, boring musical monologue, the juxtaposition of Cyrus’ soulful performance and the silly impersonations made for a surprisingly good, very entertaining first few minutes.
As for the rest of the episode, here’s a rundown of what you need to know if you want to carry on a conversation about the premiere:
Kate McKinnon got to test drive her delightful Hillary Clinton impression in front of the woman herself in a sketch that featured the two chatting away at a bar as the real Clinton — playing a bartender named Val — poured the fake one drinks. McKinnon’s impressions are often captivating enough to make a sketch even if the rest of it is hopeless — but luckily, this one was far from hopeless: Clinton put on her game face (and her Trump face, briefly), and Darrell Hammond made a brief return as Bill Clinton. The greatest part, though, is when the two Hillarys stand up for a quick sing-along of “Lean On Me” that should definitely be worked into Clinton’s presidential campaign ASAP.
Taylor Swift gets the Beygency treatment
Just when you thought Taylor Swift’s friendship circle couldn’t get any bigger, it did — and it got a lot bigger, according to a pre-taped faux movie trailer starring Aidy Bryant and Vanessa Bayer as two college girls who are left wandering the world alone after an apocalypse of sorts brought on by most of the population joining Swift’s “squad.” In one of the trailer’s best moments, a visibly shaken Kenan Thompson tells the two, “At first it was the models. Then the athletes. Then it was everybody. Police. Fire department. Matt LeBlanc.” The other best moment? When the trailer’s concluding title card reveals The Squad‘s director: Alfonso Cuarón.
Millennials get mocked
Making fun of millennials is nothing new, but this sketch — a fake FOX workplace drama titled The Millennials — still made mocking the group somewhat amusing, if also incredibly grating mostly thanks to over-exaggerated accents that get old fast. Thompson once again shines in this bit as a boss who is straight-up bewildered when Cyrus’ character accuses him of attacking her after telling her she needs to do her job. And new featured player Scott Rudnitsky also gets a starring role — and fortunately for him (or maybe unfortunately, who knows), this one doesn’t include getting licked by Cyrus as in the night’s earlier homecoming dance sketch.
Cyrus serenades her dead pets
The “We Can’t Stop” singer performed two tracks from her recent surprise-album, Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz, but the second one — a terribly sad, terribly pretty, bare bones piano ballad titled “The Twinkle Song” —confirmed that Cyrus is a hell of a performer. Even with her typically distracting wacky hair extensions and a piano covered in a slew of decorations (including three framed photos of her late pets), Cyrus’ singing is what takes centerstage here, as well as her unapologetic show of emotion: Cyrus unsuccessfully fights back tears toward the end, a seemingly genuine moment that adds an extra bit of power to the already-powerful performance.
Leslie Jones gets this week’s award, solely for her heartbreaking-but-still-funny portrayal of a black female late-night host in the segregated ’50s: “They had a big Hollywood opening last night. Vertigo. Did anyone see it? You did? Well, I didn’t. Because they wouldn’t let me in the theater,” Jones kicks off the pretend monologue. “They wouldn’t even let me in the front entrance of this theater, and this is my show. Makes me deeply sad,” she ends the joke, sadly (and hysterically) laughing.