SNL is back and they did not disappoint, my friends. I have loved SNL since I was in middle school, and I have to say, this season has one of the best casts I can remember in a while. It’s a great blend of beloved SNL veterans and exciting SNL newbies. Some veterans of the current season include Keenan Thompson (season 16), Kate McKinnon (season 7), and Aidy Bryant (season 7). These classics and more are the we already know and love and have the experience to know how to command the stage and keep the show running smoothly. However, the newbies are bringing new characters, personalities and energy into the show. Chris Redd and Heidi Gardner, who really found their voice and place on the show last season, will be returning. Comedian Ego Nwodim will also be joining the cast, probably replacing the one season cast member Luke Null, and it will be exciting to see what she brings to the table throughout the season.
Overall, the first episode was full of hilarious bits, well-known characters and poignant political commentary – all the great things you would expect from SNL. Adam Driver hosted and did an outstanding job, my personal favorite being his sketch as Mikey Day’s father on career day. He plays an ancient oil baron who crushes the spirit of his enemies and doesn’t keep this hidden from the high schoolers. It was a character anyone except Driver would butcher or laugh all the way through, but Driver’s blunt and straight-faced performance works perfectly.
Other highlights included McKinnon returning as RBG and delivering “Ginsburns” to Colin Jost and Matt Damon’s unbelievably funny opener as Kavanaugh. Although the appointment is still a fresh wound and very delicate to talk about, SNL has never shied away from potentially controversial content – and they shouldn’t start now. Humor is often the vehicle of cultural ideologies and if SNL had avoided the subject, they’d be making a bigger statement that they are afraid to offend anyone or cause a stir.
Another personal favorite sketch of mine was Kyle Mooney trying to impersonate Pete Davidson so he can become more well-known. I just love Kyle Mooney, he is easily my favorite cast member behind McKinnon. This sketch is so classic SNL, starting off as a “serious” mockumentary and slowly spiraling into absolute absurdity.
Another notable moment of the night was musical guest, Kanye, wearing a MAGA hat in his final performance. Possibly because of this, Kanye finishes the show performing in it, rather than the classic ending of all the cast members, host and musical guests saying goodnight and hugging/lingering for a while as the camera pans out. While I agree that Kanye is losing it and the hat is just him trying to stir the pot as he does, I think he almost helped SNL in a way. SNL has long been criticized for being too liberal and only catering to one side of the political spectrum. By allowing Kanye to perform in that aggressively red and controversial hat, they are showing that they don’t silence those with other opinions. In fact, they welcome them to the show because creating bubbles between political ideologies is how hatred and extremism is perpetuated. Now, SNL still very clearly swings left and I’m sure those on the right have a lot to say about the first episode, including the white supremacist sketch featuring a confederate flag. However, that one, simple hat shows that this is a show open to conversation – even with the most extreme, confusing and seemingly contradictory cultural icons of our generation.
All in all, I recommend tuning in for season 44 and I can assure you I will be continuing to write and review on the upcoming episodes. Thanks for reading this aggressively long review, if you can’t tell I am beyond thrilled to see what Lorne and the team will be bringing us next.