Saturday Night Live recap: Billie Eilish is the latest guest to pull double duty
On the horizon, potentially choppy waters.
For the first seven episodes of season 47, our SNL in Review vessel enjoyed a relatively peaceful sea. The official end of the Alec Baldwin's Trump, playful hosts, goofy pretaped sketches like "Please Don't Destroy," and interesting new featured players collectively made the show feel fresher and more alive than it had in years. And for the most part it all felt very organic. But now, an existential threat: Kate McKinnon will return after being absent all season.
Nothing against Kate, though there is growing consensus in the fan community we have seen all we need from the legendary cast member. The fact is the show has thrived with new blood being given a chance to answer the call. The cast size is already huge — how will Kate (with her outsized stage presence) fit in?
Tonight, Billie Eilish will be both the host and musical guest, making her the first host to be born in the 21st century. She was previously the musical guest for the season premiere of Saturday Night Live season 45 and she performed "Bad Guy" (in a rotating set) and "I Love You." Fasten your sails, my dear Coneheads.
Oh god, here we go. Kate McKinnon is Dr. Fauci. "Do people still think I'm sexy or are we done with that?" We're getting an update from NIH, answering queries for the holidays. CDC Players act out various scenarios — Mikey Day loses his vaccination card and is banished from society. The next scene: Bowen Yang is traveling home for the holidays.
Santa (Kyle Mooney) is at the mall, and his testicles are as big as grapes. And oh boy, they've revived Pete Davidson's Andrew Cuomo impersonation. Makeup lines and all. Chloe Fineman crushes Lauren Boebert, as does Cecily Strong.
"Anyone say, 'Wishes it would go away?'" asks the creepy, yet beautifully eyed Ted Cruz (Aidy Bryant). This is meta, but not in the way the show realizes. YES, GO AWAY. We don't need these overstuffed cold opens, or these tired political impressions. How do you do this kind of sketch without James Austin Johnson?
Eilish comes out wearing a strawberry shortcake dress, or sexy Mrs. Claus. "You may know me from my hair or my clothes." She discusses wearing baggy clothes. Her parents were both actors growing up. Her mom is in the audience and she runs up onstage wearing a sweatshirt with her brother's face on it. She once wrote a movie and cast herself and her brother as her son, but not Billie. Ouch. Fun fact, gang: while at the Groundlings, Eilish's mother actually taught and performed with the likes of Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, and Melissa McCarthy, becoming McCarthy's first improv teacher.
Billie is giggling a lot and calls up a picture of 16-year-old Colin Jost. Isn't this from when he worked as a reporter and copy editor for the Staten Island Advance?
I recently sat down with David Letterman's musical director and band leader Paul Shaffer, who was also a writer and cast member on SNL. He describes Eilish as a "major talent." He is also intrigued by her brother Finneas O'Connell. "He has a lot to do with making the records I understand."
Previously Eilish was impersonated by cast member Melissa Villaseñor on the show.
Alex Moffat comes home from work. His wife (Villaseñor) has placed their holiday cards on their fridge. All the images come alive, to comic effect. "Oh my god, their rat dog is still alive?!" cries Moffat, looking at an image of her friend's decrepit dog. He needs a new spine.
Eilish is Melissa's bitchy high school frenemy — Andrew Dismukes is hilarious as her incel son.
This is clever — a spoof of everything you see on TikTok. Viral dances, #fitcheck, put a finger down, etc. James Austin Johnson crushes his Homer Simpson. Chloe Fineman is obsessed with Blake Lively's dress. Nice to see them try this format, hitting on the app's many trends. Very specific. This is the kind of modern, engaged sketch they should be doing. (So many of the game show or talk show spoofs, for instance, feel so dusty, don't they? Boomer format.)
Eilish and Heidi Gardner are updating the standard nativity show. "Too old school, too Boomer." Gardner tries out her pimp walk; Kyle Mooney immediately joins in.
This rides a fine line. "Teach me hip hop please," deadpans Chris Redd. Andrew Dismukes is playing a twerking baby Jesus and they give him a butt implant. "Praise him!" cries a deranged Gardner on the candy cane stripper pole. Silly, an excellent showcase for Gardner.
The play is such a success in the end that Lin-Manuel Miranda will direct the film version!
"Lonely Christmas Ad"
Billie Eilish observes a lonely, widowed Kate McKinnon. She invites her over for Christmas dinner. "Are there any Black people over there?" inquires the old woman, handwriting a message. "Jews?" Increasingly, Eilish is put off by the strange, elderly Margaret, who is keeping her sick son Ruter (Mikey Day) hostage. Lots of Kate tonight.
Turns out it is an ad for NextDoor.
First performance: "Happier Than Ever"
The performance begins pretty still with Billie sitting in a living room, but it picks up. The titular song from Billie Eilish's sophomore album, Happier Than Ever, was first teased in her documentary, The World's a Little Blurry. This jumps from acoustic strummed guitar ballad to something more raw, punkier at the end. A jam, in other words.
This song received four Grammy nominations, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year. (It's also one of EW's top 10 songs of the year.)
Colin Jost, the $70,000 man, starts off as always. He talks about the diplomatic boycott of the Winter Games and just as he's about to lay into the Chinese government, NBC "shuts him off." Good effort.
The upcoming holiday gets some commentary from Punkie Johnson — this is delightful. She talks about her shady, judgemental uncle and his homophobia. She discusses her desire to have kids — but have them not be straight. Her motto: a "'ho smashing household."
Andrew Dismukes has a new segment about animals, "Andy's Amazing Animals," and comes out in face paint. Bongo the Octopus joins him to predict the Sunday football game: Packers or Bears? Instead Bongo writes he will die in seven days. Dismukes accepts his fate. "You can see what man cannot." This is hilarious, subversive. His next guest is Taco the Talking Dog. He can solve basic math problems. Taco is shy and won't face Andrew: "Are you scared?" he asks, worried about Dismukes, who's going to die. I am shocked they let this on air honestly. Usually things this original get cut for time, amiright?
Leslie (Billie Eilish) is a '40s crooner, leading backup singers Kate McKinnon and Ego Nwodim. "You met the Santa, like in the Bible?" asks Ego. They keep questioning her. This is cute, not sure Billie quite lands the blend of comedy and song here.
"I don't think I'm on good terms with Santa!" they croon, à la the Andrews Singers.
Kenan Thompson comes out as Santa to applause. They're awkward; "we're weird but we love you."
Oh wow, a Kyle pretape made it to air! Congrats to him for this and "Saturday Morning All-Star Hits!" Big week.
Here's the gist: Mooney just wants to hang out with some of his show castmates. But, of course, everyone has plans and he is deeply off-putting. Even the "Please Don't Destroy" guys want nothing to do with him. Billie Eilish greets him in the hallway, they briefly sing and he shares a dark fantasy about hurting Mikey Day. This is sooo random, yes, but one honest question I have: Is the premise here that Day is the "star of the show" and has a ton of memorable characters? Huh.
Also funny: Mooney namedrops Beck Bennett, his long-time collaborator who has left the show, and acknowledges that despite being a show vet, they don't know how to utilize him.
Second performance: "Male Fantasy"
This melancholy ballad reflects on depression and heartbreak. I believe it is the final track on her recent album, and just got a gloomy music video.
"Business Garden Hotel Ad"
All the trite hallmarks of staying in a corporate hotel, as parodied by Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant. A litany of every item or detail you can think of. So many lists, this kind of humor it's like a distant cousin of Stefon, oddly. Billie giggles at Kate's mugging.
"I am chaos."
- Many of you will remember the recent tragic death of former SNL writer and cast member, Peter Aykroyd. In a classy gesture, SNL posted "Java Junkie" online. It is brilliant. I reached out to its director Tom Schiller about his thoughts about Peter and the short. Thank you, Tom.
- Also thank you to Paul Shaffer. His daughter has a new book out — Pup Culture: Stories, Tips, and the Importance of Adopting a Dog — a guide to picking out the right pup, where to look and how to help your new pet get acclimated to its new home. Check it out!
- What did you think? Comment below or vote here!
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