Saturday Night Live, Sunday Night or Later: Episode 7


General Overview:
“Back in 2014, I tweeted ‘Hey Marvel, great job with Captain America and Thor. Now how about an Asian superhero?’ And at the time I think the tweet got like 10 likes which was like ten more than I usually got. But I worked hard, and five years later Marvel did make their first Asian superhero and, after I got the part, I went online and tweeted ‘Thanks for getting back to me.’ Clearly, I’m Canadian.”
–Simu Liu, 11/21/21

This episode had what this season has been in dire need of, balance. None of the sketches were high points of the season, and there were some staunchly mediocre ones. But SNL is a TV show that plays Live on Saturday Night, not a List of Sketches in the Nondescript vacuum of a YouTube channel. As an episode, this was the best balance of smart and dumb of any episode this season, making it far more than the sum of its parts.

There were some creative ideas in this episode, like James Austin Johnson’s Trump ranting with a word search in the background to try to add consistency, and “Republican or Not,” which was quite a fun dive into the wacky world of people that hate each other but share opinions for the wrong reasons.

The most thought-provoking sketch, though, was “Simu & Bowen” in which the titular Simu Liu and Bowen Yang took a step back and looked at the oddity of “firsts” culture. This is something that is especially relevant to Liu who, as his monologue put it, is “Marvel’s first openly Chinese superhero” and “The first Chinese host on SNL… to be the fourth Chinese host on SNL.” It was certainly more introspective and forced me to think more at 1 a.m. than I expected.

There weren’t too many other “highlights,” per se, but the fact that there weren’t (and the fact that this review’s score is so high) should indicate that this was just a nice episode to watch from start to finish in the middle of the night, as SNL is ought to be.

Most of the sketches took a while to get good, and even the ones that didn’t had me worried that they’d go poorly very quickly; I kept bracing myself for cringes that never came.

The best example of this is “Karaoke All-Stars,” whose title alone should warn you that it’s risky. I kept worrying that it would devolve into a 2016-era YouTube Cringe Compilation (wow, that’s two YouTube digs in one 600-word review…), but it never did. Trepidation isn’t exactly my favorite emotion, but the dedication the performers put into their caricatures has once again saved the bad from becoming the ugly.

Oh, also in a cameo in “Walking in Staten,” Method Man said, “My Yankee hat is a statement, a middle finger to Boston.” Boooooo. I guess the song was a good parody at least…

Best Sketch:

“Target Thanksgiving Ad.” This sort of “family get-togethers are crazy” sketch has been done before, but this was well executed (just like the turkey…). The red price tags adding on to everything was a great running gag that kept me laughing whenever kids whacked an $8.99 doll’s head on a table or Kyle Mooney passed out drunk on an $18.99 air mattress.

Best Joke:
“Mel Gibson says he is in talks to direct a new ‘Lethal Weapon’ movie, but if you want to see a broken-down Black guy team up with a handsome racist just watch ‘Weekend Update.’” –Michael Che

Overall Score: 8/10
My friends will say it’s because I’m a Libra, but whatever the reason is, I like balance in things and this episode’s blend of varying-elevations-of-brow jokes kept a smile on my face throughout the night.