With musical guest Bruno Mars

By Ray Rahman
Updated October 17, 2016 at 02:32 PM EDT
Credit: Will Heath/NBC

Before we begin with this recap of this week’s SNL, let’s first read Donald Trump’s review:

I never thought I’d say it, but Donald Trump is wrong. The supposedly stinky Alec Baldwin portrayal he’s referring to — in which Baldwin’s Trump and Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton circled each other on the second presidential debate stage — was actually one of the best parts of this week’s episode. Unfortunately, though, a lot of what came afterward was indeed boring and unfunny.

It wasn’t the host’s fault, though. Emily Blunt is a bonafide national treasure, and she’s not even from this country. The future Mary Poppins can do no wrong — and she did no wrong. Sadly, the writers just didn’t do her justice.

As if to compound on her generally adorable nature, Blunt’s opening monologue — a song-and-dance number about finding happiness in the face of this year’s election — featured puppies and cookies and cake and a bunch of moms. As opening monologues go, this one was particularly lightweight and inoffensive. If I didn’t have to write this recap, I would’ve completely forgotten that it even happened.

The rest of the show is harder to forget, and not in a good way. But let’s start with the positive.

The Cold Open

Without a doubt, this week’s first sketch was also its best sketch. Honestly, at this point you could just put Baldwin and McKinnon in those costumes and have them sit on the floor for five minutes and it would still be the best part of SNL.

But they did not just sit on the floor. They leaned awkwardly on stools, hovered behind each other like horror-movie villains, and made solid references to Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (which is obviously the best Home Alone movie).

Cecily Strong’s Martha Raddatz, all furrowed brows and skepticism, was quietly superb as well, while Bobby Moynihan’s inevitable turn as Ken Bone was a creepy, GIF-ready delight. It makes you wish the whole episode could be cold opens.

Short Film

I’m obsessed with this one. Inspired by a combination of Richard Linklater and Charlie Kaufman, “Short Film” was one of those rare sketches that managed to have the majority of the cast showing off their strengths together without doing any celebrity impressions. Sort of like the British Office.


The premise here: The word “Chonk” sounds funny. Hey, it works. Chonk!


Let’s put the Trump women in a Lemonade-style music video? Let’s not! This wasn’t necessarily the worst moment of the night (we see you, hamsters sketch), but it might have been the biggest flop. Almost none of it landed despite trying so, so hard. The entire exercise was saved by one thing and only one thing: a funny line from Vanessa Bayer’s Tiffany Trump. I won’t tell you what it is though, because it might inspire you to actually watch the video, and no one should do that.

Weekend Update

The weekly mock-news segment was as reliable as ever, but two special guests took it over the top to A+ heights: McKinnon’s nihilistic, suicidal (but funny!) Olya Povlatsky and Bayer’s Laura Parsons. And, interestingly, both their best lines had to do with Billy Bush.

Best Olya line: “Oh, Colin, it was so hard to watch this video. A whole bus just for two people?!”

Best Laura Parsons line: “Why not? Billy Bush said bad things, and my mom said he might get $10 million — from this network!”

Second-best Laura Parsons line: “Best case scenario, you’re molested!” [This one actually had nothing to do with the Trump-Bush video.]

Bruno Mars

Is Bruno Mars ever not entertaining? No! And his SNL performance was no different. First of all, he made use of the entire SNL set in an unusual way, walking out from backstage through the audience and the set with his entourage. Bruno Mars loves to walk!

The outfits were magnificent (who wears the 45 Jordan jersey anymore?!), the songs were great, and the energy was through the roof. Long live Bruno Mars.

The Sink

A very short and very strange highlight. I don’t care what anyone says, this was a top five sketch.


Let’s never, ever talk about this sketch again.

Great British Bake Off

I’m conflicted about this one. As a fan of The Great British Bake Off, I was excited to see the show become big enough for an SNL parody. That’s good news! But the premise — two crude women, played admirably by Blunt and Cecily Strong, infiltrate the genteel baking competition — feels a little womp womp. And McKinnon’s Mary Berry felt underwhelming. Buuuuut the sketch did produce this great Aidy Bryant line: “The prize is the honor of being the best baker and being British.”

Cast MVP

Without a doubt, Vanessa Bayer. I’m always here for Laura Parsons, and seeing helplessly normal Bayer oppose a stage full of pretentious film nerds in “Short Film” was a great reminder of why she’s so essential to the cast.

Episode grade: C

Could’ve been a C+ if not for the hamsters sketch.

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