“Saturday Night Live” returned for its 45th season Sept. 28, featuring a diverse new cast and a mixed bag of humor and awkward moments.
The season opener featured host Woody Harrelson, who played a range of roles, including former Vice President Joe Biden (D).
Perhaps Harrelson’s most humorous moment of the night was when he played pundit Walter Dale during a fictional political show called “Inside the Beltway,” where he broke character several times because the sketch was too hilarious.
The season premiere was historical, showcasing a slew of new cast members, including SNL’s
first-ever Asian American cast member, Bowen Yan (D).
While Yang’s debut performance as the North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un was historical for the series, the writers could have given him a more memorable starting role.
Predictably, SNL featured three sketches dedicated to the Trump impeachment inquiry, including a sketch that mocked all of the Democratic candidates. While in the past SNL has expressed biases on either side of the political aisle, the writers did not hold back this time.
The first of the political sketches was the show’s cold opening, or the first sketch before the host’s monologue, where Alec Baldwin returned to play President Donald Trump. While initially funny to watch during the 2016 election, Baldwin’s noticeable disinterest in the role made the sketch difficult to enjoy.
A female cast member portrayed almost every ally to the president who appeared in the sketch, including Kate McKinnon, who flawlessly satirized Rudy Guliani, as with any character she portrays.
Perhaps the most entertaining and intellectual sketch of the night focused on some of the Democratic candidates attending a town hall centered on impeachment. The actors must have memorized every mannerism of the politicians they portrayed, because the end of the sketch was hilarious.
The only exception to this sketch was Maya Rudolph’s over-the-top portrayal of Kamala Harris (D). Actor Rudolph continuously tapped into Harris’ childhood story, which won the U.S. senator fame during the first democractic debate.
The town hall sketch saw the fan-favorite return of Larry David’s Bernie Sanders (D), which made me jump out of my seat with excitement. During the 2016 election season, I was always excited to see David’s portrayal of Sanders.
During the musical portion, Billie Eilish took the stage to sing her hit song, “Bad Girl,” where she performed flawlessly. The set design was unbelievable, with Eilish performing in a small space where she could walk on the ceiling and crawl on the walls.
Eilish’s performance was unfortunately the last great moment of the show, because “Weekend Update” was subpar at best. This is my favorite segment of SNL, so my disappointment is justified. The political satire was limited compared to previous recent episodes, the guest characters were uninteresting and the non-political humor was somewhat offensive. Anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che made jokes about guests at Walt Disney World avoiding new vegan food options, as well as China’s lack of fresh air.
Near the end of the episode, the “Corgi Dogs Football” sketch was without a doubt the most cringeworthy performance of the night. The story featured a high school football coach whose wife revealed to the football players his “thing” made a whistling noise, which led to incredibly disgusting humor for cheap laughs.
Overall, I am sure future episodes of “SNL” this season will be better, especially with the upcoming return of Eddie Murphy as a host. This will be the first time Murphy has been on the series since he left the cast in 1984, aside from his cameo in the 40th anniversary special.
Viewers can watch “SNL” on Saturday nights at 10:30 p.m on NBC.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 33%
TV Rating: TV-PG
The Arkansas Traveler Score: B
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Eddie Murphy only appeared on SNL in a cameo role during the 40th anniversary special. It has been corrected to state that his appearance as host of an upcoming episode is his first appearance since he left the cast in 1984.
The Traveler strives for accuracy and clarity in all matters.