Saturday Night Live, Sunday Night or Later: Episode 19


General Overview:
“I’m really honored to be hosting the Mother’s Day SNL show, and, of course, I want to wish a very special Mother’s Day to my mum. She’s actually on holiday in Greece at the moment, and SNL offered to fly her here first-class and she said ‘No, I’m on a beach in Greece; are you insane?’”
—Benedict Cumberbatch, 5/7/22

Every week of this show, there’s always something that drags the episode down or keeps it from reaching its full potential, whether it’s bad writing or just a general malaise that keeps the episode worse than the sum of its parts.

This week’s episode was different. I’ve said (or at the very least implied) before that I value internal variety more than anything else in this show, and this episode gave me that and then some more. To misquote SNL’s Stefon, “This episode has everything: biting political satire, bittersweet Mother-Daughter connections, husbands accidentally revealing their second families, Mikey Day getting 10 pounds of various liquids and stage glass dumped on him, a queercoded New Wave band playing for ‘Charles Entertainment Cheese.’”

Most unique to this episode, it struck the perfect balance of emotional depth with its sketches. It had the usual zany, funny concepts, two of which Stefon briefly outlined earlier, but it also hit two far stronger emotional beats.

In the short “Just Like You,” a mother tries to discipline her daughter for drinking while having flashbacks to her own teenage misbehaving. It balanced satire with comedy and mixed in some classic mother’s day heartfeltness to make a strong emotional cocktail that left me near tears with its final message.

Most importantly, the leaked Supreme Court majority opinion draft by Justice Alito threatening to overturn Roe v. Wade inspired both the cold open and a guest appearance on “Weekend Update,” effectively delivering their political messages while not fully sacrificing humor.

They both landed squarely in the realm of “this hurt to watch but in a good way.” These two, combined with the “1973” shirts at the end of the episode, added a powerful touch of bitterness to the episode that balanced out with the sweetness of the comedy to build a more complex viewing flavor.

I don’t really have anything to complain about, which is nice. There were no bad sketches, and the only mediocre ones were still fully enjoyable from start to finish. Cumberbatch’s monologue was okay but not great, I guess. That’s about it.

Best Sketch:
“The Understudy.” Chloe Fineman has grown on me more and more as this season has progressed, and this is probably my favorite thing she’s done so far. I always love when the show manages to find a way to use its cast’s stellar impression skills, and doing impressions of the cast itself was a creative spin that I wholeheartedly enjoyed. This was a perfect ending to a near-perfect episode.

Best Joke:
“To the Indian Ridge Little League Team, your coach says, ‘Pizza is for winners, so tonight you starve!’”—Benedict Cumberbatch

Overall Score: 10/10
This is everything I want from an SNL episode. Not only were there no slackers, but this episode also hit every emotional bone in my body including, of course, the all-important funny bone.