Photo: NBC/Will Heath/NBC
This week in first time Saturday Night Live hosts, Selena Gomez stops by alongside musical guest Post Malone. As a former Disney star and current musical superstar/all-around beloved celebrity, Gomez takes the “host with the most Instagram followers” crown from Kim Kardashian, who also made her hosting debut earlier this season. As far as her comedy chops, she’s cut her teeth with SNL royalty Steve Martin and Martin Short in the Hulu hit series Only Murders in the Building and her teen sitcom Wizards of Waverly Placeso she should be pretty comfortable in Studio 8H.
In her monologue, Gomez talks about asking people for advice about hosting SNL and unveils a pretty dead-on Miley Cyrus impersonation. She says one reason she’s excited to host is that she’s single, and it’s a great place to meet people. (“Emma Stone met her husband here. Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost. And Pete and … Machine Gun Kelly.”) She’s manifesting love and looking for a soul mate, but “at this point, [she’ll] take anyone.” Kyle Mooney and James Austin Johnson interrupt from a dark void somewhere stage right and say they’re willing to be that anyone. Gomez lets them down and reminds them that they’re both married before Punkie slips in to let Gomez know she’s also interested. Kyle and James’s cameos are too low-energy and the lack of actual flirting reads as borderline creepy. Even Punkie’s simple “I’ll do it” misses opportunities to have fun jokes about dating.
Fresh off the Netflix hit show Old Enough!, where cameras follow little Japanese children as they do errands for their parents, we unveil an American version where women tell their long-term boyfriends to run an errand for them. Gomez asks her 34-year-old boyfriend, played by Mikey Day, to buy makeup from Sephora and shallots from the supermarket. Mikey gets handed a bag, a water bottle, and a big sign that says “Stop.” Mikey is perfect in this, as he plays this sort of zombie boyfriend with enough subtlety to make it feel real. (“Don’t get distracted by Ana de Armas, Matt!”) Back at the apartment, Selena offers us some perspective about her boyfriend’s interest in DraftKings and “Adult Legos.” Back to the errand, Mikey runs into Kenan Thompson, who is also on an errand to “get dry-cleaning and a cream that cost $80.”
This is a very well-written sketch with clear heightening, as Mikey asking Kenan if shallots are onions leads him to buy two five-pound bags of onions instead of the requested two shallots. Back at the apartment, Gomez, although proud of Mikey even though he didn’t get anything she asked for, admits they need to break up since Mikey is basically a helpless roommate who isn’t interested in sex during the day. Selena and Mikey both crushed this and made it the best sketch of the night.
SNL Might have missed an opportunity to pair Ariana DeBose and Melissa Villaseñor in a sketch, but they don’t make the same mistake twice as “A Peek at Pico” busts out of the gates. Melissa and Selena (both of Mexican descent from the Southwest) wonderfully play a couple of cholas hosting a Pico Rivera public-access talk show with shades of “Bronx Beat” and “Good Morning, Brooklyn.” They cut back and forth to Mikey as a correspondent reporting from Pico park, never letting him get to the actual segment. Their next guest is a librarian played by Heidi Gardner, whom they introduce as a woman who “hangs out at the library with the books” and quickly dismissed her only a few words into her summer-reading recommendations. The energy shifts when Chris Redd enters as a rapper named Lil Hubcap, who performs a rap song that the ladies sing backup. Overall, Melissa and Selena’s timing and accents just make this sketch.
This week, Michael Che told the New York Times that his head “has been at leaving for the past five seasons.” I cannot say enough that Michael is irreplaceable behind the desk, bringing an honest, authentic voice that stand-ups work years to master. However, if he and/or Colin ever do leave, Sarah Sherman is the correspondent-in-waiting. Here, Sarah continues her feud with Colin as she gives us a tour of SNL‘s studio (a vintage trope SNL has shied away from in recent years). When Sarah shows her clothing rack, Colin says Sarah’s size-zero pants look like children’s pants, and Sarah fires back, “Children’s pants, sort of your area of expertise, huh?” Sarah then takes us to Colin’s dressing room, which she reveals “female interns call it the ‘Chamber of Secrets.'” She shows off Colin’s dressing-room mirror filled with Post-it Notes with daily affirmations, such as “Reminder: Dinner tonight with Giuliani,” and he has a corkboard filled with pictures of Sarah. During the bit, Sarah drops a prop but plays on empty-handed, describing the prop as “a thing that I threw,” which causes Colin to lose it. Her bit taking down Colin has run its course, but Sarah’s ability to hit punch lines with incredible energy has already made her personality so distinct in just her first season. Incredible energy and a distinct personality are two essential prerequisites for an “Update” anchor, and Sarah should be at the front of the line when it comes time to make a switch.
Mikey Day is the MVP this week. From the wary prince in “Three Daughters” to the Call of Duty–obsessed boyfriend in “Old Enough,” Mikey showed strong chemistry with Selena, and his straight-man skills made sketches like “A Peek at Pico” really pop. It’s hard to believe Mikey’s been on the show for eight years, starting as a writer in 2013 before eventually joining the cast. There was no Alex Moffat, Andrew Dismukes, or Pete Davidson this week, so we probably got a bigger dose of Mikey than usual, but he was great.
Gomez is an absolute pro, and she showed it tonight. Again, SNL played to her strengths, letting her play a Latina TV host, a teenage babysitter, and a model. Gomez is really good at playing annoyed, and she hit every punch line in “Old Enough” perfectly. We definitely saw the skills that helped make Only Murders in the Building a hit show.
Otherwise, this episode had more misses than hits. The “Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Trial Cold Open” was regrettable. They tried to insinuate that people are gawking at this trial like a train wreck, but in reality, people are pretty upset. This is the second time SNL has made a joke about the poop on Johnny Depp’s bed, and both fell utterly flat because this is actually a very serious case about domestic abuse and defamation.
looking at SNL‘s finale next week, I’m super curious about how it will finish the season. It would be an absolute crime for Pete not to appear again, even if it was one last time. In Che’s New York Times piece, Lorne Michaels said a year of change is possible. No doubt COVID has made balancing SNL with other projects nearly impossible for cast members, so we may see a significant turnover, which could be what SNL needs.