Saturday Night Live recap: Kristen Wiig hosts at-home season finale
SNL alums Martin Short and Tina Fey, and more special guests also popped in.
Well, folks, here we are. This third remote episode will serve as the finale for Saturday Night's 45th season, and what an unexpected way to wrap things up. At 18 episodes it is the shortest season since the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike limited season 33 to 12 episodes.
I am joined today by former SNL cast member Gary Kroeger. He says: "In my day the only disruption to the show was losing 8H to convention coverage and having to split between two small studios on separate floors. Not exactly the same," when compared to the current pandemic-related disruption. Then again, it shows that SNL has always faced obstacles, including potential cancellation, and been forced to adjust.
What form SNL takes moving forward — ...live? ...from New York? — is one of the many questions facing the show. The cast has been grappling with rumors of several big departures. Could this be the last we see of some folks? "I couldn't imagine wanting to leave that show. I would have stayed for 20 years if I could have," Kroeger says. "Came up 17 short."
One of the bright sides of the season was seeing the likes of Bowen Yang, Chloe Fineman, and Heidi Gardner step up and be given opportunities to shine. I vote them joint season MVPs. In a strange way, the self-quarantine has forced the cast to carve out niches of imaginative, lo-fi comedy and ushered in the next generation of talent.
Kroeger agrees: "Of course we all want to get back to some semblance of how life used to be and I'm anxious to see SNL back in Studio 8H. But it won't be exactly the same. I think comedy has been distilled down to its essence a bit. We can be funny on our own without tons of makeup and props. Maybe this is a reset back to an actor and the premise without bells and whistles." Let’s hope! The restrictions seem liberating in a way, to me anyhow.
Buckle up as season 45 comes to a close!
Class of 2020 virtual graduation cold open
Kate McKinnon plays Principal O’Grady during a virtual high school graduation. The eighth choice to address the graduates is *sighs* Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump. Seems even a global pandemic won’t deter the show from forcing this impression onto the culture. It’s genuinely mystifying — this scenario had so much potential. We did not need bleach jokes. Upsides: Baldwin/Trump actually looks better sans makeup. And the inspirational hook works. As does Heidi as Crystal. "Taped from my home, one last time, it’s Saturday Night," smiles Baldwin, somewhat ambiguous.
Kristen Wiig's opening monologue
"This is the Mother’s Day show," welcomes SNL alum Kristen Wiig in front of candles and a mood-setting carpet. She can’t be with her mom this Mother’s Day. The Bridesmaids star previously hosted in May 2013 and November 2016. This is brief and includes both a dance intro and a bombastic "lullaby" song Wiig’s mother used to sing with her.
ZOOM friends call
Oh wow, guest star, and season 10 cast member, Martin Short is Ripley, and Heidi Gardner is Deirdre. They traveled to Italy for "Quarantina." Their friends (Beck Bennett, Kenan Thompson, Aidy Bryant, and Melissa Villaseñor) cannot believe how oblivious their friends are being over ZOOM, exporting PPE out of the country. So it’s a showcase for Short to kill it, and Gardner is more than game.
"Let Kids Drink"
Chris Redd improvs and shout outs during an otherwise-heartfelt ode to letting children drink during the quarantine. "It’s really fair," joins a children’s chorus. Josh Gad pops up (accidentally) as Olaf to co-sign. Cecily Strong wants dogs to drink too. It's not Lonely Island's classic Mother's Day ode, but this captures the likely frustration and confusion housebound parents are feeling during this time.
Masterclass quarantine edition
Chloe Fineman plays Fleabag star/creator — and SNL season 45 host — Phoebe Waller-Bridge. She nails it. Melissa Villaseñor gets to plug her recent John Mulaney impression — another s45 host — she’s been workshopping on Instagram. Woo! Then Chloe is back as Britney Spears, who recently burned down her gym. “The thing that helps me out most during quarantine is being rich!” Stupendous. Spears, another former host and musical guest, has previously been impersonated by Jennifer Aniston, Amy Poehler, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Rachel Dratch, Noel Wells, and Jessica Simpson. But never this accurately.
Mt. Methusela Baptist Church Mother’s Day service
Kenan is a preacher leading his ZOOM flock, who refuse to mute their Amens. "Sister Johnson, we can all hear ya’ll through the machine," he reprimands Ego Nwodim. I spy SNL writer Bryan Tucker as part of the congregation.
"Danny Trejo" song
This is a very specific and fun ode to tough guy character actor Danny Trejo in the form of a song by Pete Davidson and Chris Redd. While serving time in San Quentin prison, Trejo became a champion boxer which led to his film debut as a boxer with Runaway Train, one of the '80s best action movies (based on a screenplay by Akira Kurosawa.) Trejo pops up at the end to plug his donut shop.
"Bouncy Waves" hair vlog
Host Wiig is one of those absurd online stylists, PJ, dangling her excellent hair over the camera. Cecily is her hilarious friend, Patty. "If you’ve had surgery in the last week and have stitches I don’t think you should watch this." If you wanted to see Kenan in a mullet, this is the sketch for you! The goofy and choppy editing gives this a real DIY Internet vibe.
Boyz II Men & Babyface - "A Song for Mama" (Mother’s Day tribute)
Michael Che introduces the legendary Boyz II Men. Amazing. So there IS a musical guest, but interestingly they're not introduced by Wiig. The Philadelphia R&B group is joined by Babyface — who recently recovered from coronavirus — as they harmonize over a montage of SNL cast members with their mothers. Remarkably, I do not think Boyz II Men has ever performed on SNL before. They were spoofed by Chance the Rapper though. (If I recall correctly, Damon Wayans played Babyface on the show once.)
Che is drinking again — understandable, and a nice callback. Fits this iteration of bro-tastic Update nicely. He’s laying into the dangers of coronavirus, the police, basic cardio, and murder hornets. Meanwhile, Colin Jost savages Joe Biden over the Tara Reade allegations and attacks his age. Yikes.
Tina Fey then pops up with a special Mother’s Day message. "I’m getting to spend so much time with my passwords!" She laughs about Meghan Markle, before giving a humorous prayer to mothers in the era of pandemic, reassuring Che in the process. #ad #catchthefun
The all-in challenge comes back. A fan sent in a joke for Che to read. Apparently this raised $10,000 for charity! Che comes back with a joke (supposedly) written by a sick kid for Jost. Brutal!
Cecily Strong returns as Fox News correspondent Jeanine Pirro — this is her fourth Update appearance, though she popped up in a cold open recently as well. "I live in the Upside Down!” she hollers as Jost is improbably drenched in water.
What’s Wrong With This Picture? — Mother’s Day edition
Kenan is back as host Elliott Pants. He salutes moms, "the most important hobby in the world." Aidy, Melissa and Ego are the dim-witted contestants. Ego accidentally stumbled onto a right answer finally. This spot-the-difference sketch has appeared twice before, including during last year’s Paul Rudd episode.
Aidy is hosting a children’s show with her pet cartoon goldfish. Just like Eleanor, it was recently Aidy’s birthday! They are joined by a purple dog, a giant ice cream, and his sketch friend Richard Carson (Kyle Mooney). They’re joined by Richard’s strange wife Eleanor (Heidi) and their Michigan friends. Burger (Pete) adds to the weirdness, requesting same-room sex. The animation here is very trippy - this goes dark and disturbing places. I’m here for it. Poor Eleanor.
Brandon — and his "corny ass dad" (Mikey Day) — post a YouTube prank video. "Bruh these jump scares tho!" Brandon tortures his poor father straight out of Bam Margera and Jackass. Or Home Alone. Nightmare-inducing.
Phineas Gale and his lighthouse
Inspired by astronauts giving advice on self-quarantine during the pandemic, Kate McKinnon’s oddball lighthouse keeper gives his own tips. This black & white bit of weirdness concludes with a brief hat-tip to Little Richard, who died earlier today.
Kyle Mooney’s 10-to-1
Like in the last #SNLatHome, Kyle plays all the characters here, which actually enhances his knowingly strange, awkward comic sensibility. He’s again toying his '90s era sitcom cliches. This is a little more convoluted and less clever than last episode’s party interaction, but it’s fun to see it unfurl. "A treasure map? The treasure is all around us. Kyle was right; it’s friendship."
Dreams (Debussy’s "Clair de Lune")
Cecily is on the phone with her mom, commiserating, before she drifts to sleep. It turns into a poignant dreamscape, a love letter from the cast to the New York City they remember and can’t access. I especially like Cecily going to Sonic the Hedgehog: the Musical. And Kenan strolling down the street with Tootsie. While amusing, this is a bittersweet mood the modern show rarely tries. Could it also be a meta send-off to some cast members?
We did not get a ton of Bowen Yang this episode, did we ya’ll?
Here’s Kroeger’s thoughts on how these episodes have dealt with COVID-19: "The 'At Home' episodes have been fun to watch. At first, I didn't care for the — necessary and unavoidable — low production quality. The limitations were all I thought about and the 'sketches' were —again unavoidable — one dimensional. But as the whole world took on the look of a Zoom conference I started not only accepting the limitations but enjoying how they've been dealt with. SNL has that wonderful quality where its spontaneity adapts to reality. And they not only have embraced this but have made it entertaining." Well put.
-A huge thank you to everyone who read/shared/commented on my recaps this season! It’s been a special whirlwind of a year, and your engagement has been valued. I want to especially shout out the show alum who provided their commentary, insights, and memories throughout SNL45: Jeff Richards, Ellen Cleghorne, Victoria Jackson, Dan Vitale, Patrick Weathers, Matthew Laurance, and Gary Kroeger.
-Speaking of Dan Vitale, check out my recent conversation with him. Dan is one of the most enigmatic cast members in the show’s history, and I was thrilled to capture this first-of-its-kind conversation. So many compelling tidbits about season 11, for you fellow SNL Coneheads.
-Nice job by Kristen Wiig, who goes to bed after telling us the show will be back in September. See you then!
-What did YOU all think? Vote here or reply below!
-Thanks again to the inimitable Gary Kroeger for his thoughts on SNL at Home!