Saturday Night Live is back for yet another season, and with it comes a lot of unevenness and uncertainty. Saturday night’s premier episode provided Kanye West with a platform for sharing his music and also sharing his thoughts on the current political and social climate. Does that sound like a terrible idea? Well good, because it was indeed a horrible way to kick off the season. What could have they been thinking when settling on a more-controversial-than-ever Kanye West to headline their premier? Famously exuding the baffling energy of a Pro-Trump brand and sporting his ‘Make America Great Again’ hat with glee, Kanye closed out the show with his best song of the year, “Ghost Town.” With him on stage were collaborators Kid Cudi and 070 Shake in an exciting rendition of the song, which quickly turned into a stage for Kanye to indulge in one of his infamous and now more polarizing than ever political rants. Of course, Kanye’s position on politics could not be any further from that of NBC and the majority of the show’s cast and audience, so providing Kanye with this position to open the show’s season is a more than questionable choice that has many people irate.
As for the rest of the show, Adam Driver brought his expected energy and charisma. It is easy to say he is one of the best young actors in Hollywood right now, and for his second stint hosting the show, he knocked it out of the park again. His final sketch of the night in which he plays an extremely elderly father of Pete Davidson was a good indication of his star power. He carried the entire sketch and had Davidson in stitches for most of it. Davidson also acted as a star of the episode. After coming off his summer engagement to Ariana Grande, people were excited to see him on the screen again. He is still at a very young age and he brings more charisma to the show than just about anybody. It’s safe to say he has a very long career ahead of him.
The cold open this week was something that went surprisingly well. It was extremely refreshing not to have Baldwin’s Trump impersonation kick off the episode as so many of them do. Instead, Matt Damon came on in a guest role to play the part of Brett Kavanaugh from Thursday’s congressional hearing. It was a scene I feared wouldn’t play well given the seriousness and controversial nature of the proceedings. Instead, I thought it worked exceptionally well, with Damon fully committed to his performance of Kavanaugh, really having some fun and hamming it up. The audience appeared to be really into his rendition as well, and it was a memorable sketch to jumpstart the show’s forty-forth season. The unrelenting fastballs thrown at the conservatives in the sketch made for giving the floor to Kanye throughout the rest of the episode even more baffling. He was out there preaching literally the exact opposite of everything the show and its contributors stand for, and it made for an exceptionally awkward airing of live television.
All that controversy aside, I do think the show appears to be in a pretty good spot with the quality of its sketches last night and the cast it’s bringing back for the new season. Some of its younger players appear to be coming into their own, while veterans like Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson still anchor the show. I know it has been announced that Alec Baldwin is continuing his role as Donald Trump, which was troubling news to say the least, and I am not looking forward to the return of that character. Hopefully the show is able to find some new things that work with its young cast members early on this season so that it doesn’t slowly dissipate into uninspired and monotonous outings like it is so often privy to in its advanced age.
Saturday Night Live continues next Saturday night 10/6 on NBC
with Awkwafina / Travis Scott