The lead-up to the present, its speedy aftermath, and Musk’s subsequent actions around crypto all generated separate, related discourses. However one thread woven all through the complete saga—by Musk’s followers and critics alike—was the burning truth of SNL‘s irrelevance and total state of disrepair. Lots of of us felt compelled to precise both that the present hasn’t been funny in years or that they haven’t watched it in years, twin sentiments that cancel one another out. All this slander is a disgrace, nevertheless, as a result of not less than on this critic’s eyes, popping out of the Trump period, SNL has quietly change into about as robust because it’s ever been.
Trump’s presidency began out as each a reward and a curse for the preeminent late-night comedy present, nevertheless it shortly curdled into simply a curse. An excessive amount of was occurring in the information, all the time, and it was usually both too silly or too terrifying to see rehashed in thunderingly redundant cold-open sketches every week. Trump proved intermittently nice for SNL‘s scores, however by 2020, audiences appeared burnt out on all the attendant turmoil mirrored on the present, even past their exhaustion with Alec Baldwin’s noxious impersonation.
Solely the first handful of the present season’s 18 episodes aired earlier than America voted Trump out, although. Whereas the Chris Rock-hosted premiere felt like extra of the identical, with high-profile pinch hitters comparable to Jim Carrey and 15-minute chilly opens recapping yet one more political debate, one thing had shifted inside the present. Extra Trump-related materials appeared to concentrate on less-explored subjects comparable to the self-serving liberal pageantry round the then-president. One election PSA featured the solid posing as voters, voicing concern about simply what the hell they’d even discuss if Trump had been not president—a query that some cynically minded viewers (and the author of this text) may need questioned about the present itself.
As a lot as Trump appeared to thrill in being the fundamental factor People had been speaking about at any given time, two subjects had already outmoded him in dialog by final fall: COVID-19 and systemic racism. Positive sufficient, SNL received a few of its finest materials in years by paying extra consideration to these points than the outgoing chief govt.
Over the previous 15 months, the present has had the unenviable job of first discovering a strategy to even exist throughout a pandemic, after which mine humor from each discrete part of it. SNL was still in production as severe fears about COVID-19 seeped into the U.S., took a temporary break throughout the early full-tilt panic stage, after which closed out its forty fifth season with a sequence of distant episodes. By the time the present resumed final fall, COVID-19 had change into fodder for material quite than an inhibitor of it. SNL weighed in on ridiculous anti-lockdown protesters, the awkwardness of outdoor hangs with friends and indoor hangs with one’s pod, the inability to go home for Christmas, and the agony and ecstasy of pre-vaccine horniness and post-vaccine dating. The pandemic hit every particular person in several methods, however in casting a vast web SNL seemingly nailed not less than one among them for almost everyone.
The present’s commentary on racism this season has been equally sharp and incisive. The present touched on corporate pandering and the icky motivations behind it, misguided white allyship, and wide-ranging discord around the Derek Chauvin trial. One sketch, nevertheless, approached a sure class of ostensibly well-meaning white individuals with specific acuity, humor, and intelligence. The faux advert for 5-Hour Empathy laid naked the fleeting nature of these heavy donations and antiracism studying lists; how empathy was one thing many white individuals may simply flick on and off like a swap (or by no means flip on in the first place, or assume they flipped on once they truly didn’t.
Elsewhere on the present this season, the absurdist present that has all the time run by SNL (if too usually relegated to the “10 to 1” spot) has flourished with delightfully unhinged sketches comparable to the Mr. Chicken Legs pageant, the Tiny Horse song, and Bowen Yang’s tour de power flip as the iceberg that sank the Titanic.
In its topical sketches, pleasant turns towards nonsense, and every thing in between, the present has recently usually been firing on all cylinders.
The perpetually downside with Saturday Evening Stay has all the time been inconsistency. It doesn’t matter what any random viewer remembers as their favourite season, I assure it might not maintain up from episode to episode upon revisiting right this moment. And guess what? The present stays inconsistent. That Elon Musk go to wasn’t the solely time issues went a bit off the rails in the present season. Happily, SNL is navigating the post-Trump and presumably soon-to-be post-COVID-19 period with aplomb and discovering different areas of How We Live Now to sort out in its personal manner. Though it appears like there could also be fewer causes than ever to remain in on a Saturday night time by the time the present returns subsequent season, odds are that one thing properly price watching can be on for individuals who achieve this.