SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Awkwafina" 1748 -- Pictured: (l-r) Musical Guest Travis Scott, Host Awkwafina, Cecily Strong in Studio 8H during a promo -- (Photo by: Rosalind O'Connor/NBC)
Following last week’s polarizing premier, Saturday Night Live settled into its more traditional and uninteresting form. As questionable as Kanye’s presentation was last week, one thing it succeeded in doing was getting people talking about the show in a thought provoking way. With Awkwafina coming in to host the episode, the show took on more of her persona, and from what I could tell, that was nothing special. Certainly I might not be qualified to comment on her as I have seen neither Ocean’s 8 nor Crazy Rich Asians, but judging from this episode alone, I found her to be a pretty middling host. Not to say she was bad, but she certainly wasn’t memorable. After what I found to be a very sincere monologue that grabbed my interest in her, she never really seemed to stand out in any of the skits. Of course, this could certainly be attributed to the poor writing and structure of the skits, so I wouldn’t hold it against her as an actress or anything. I definitely intend to give Crazy Rich Asians a watch ASAP to hopefully get a sense of her as an actress.
The best skit of the night was the cold open, which for the second week in a row followed the Kavanaugh proceedings and with much success. Again, it is great not to have Alec Baldwin on the screen at the jump for every episode (or ever, for that matter) and I was really happy with the structure of this open. Having Heidi play a CNN reporter inside the Republicans’ “locker room” following Senator Collins’s speech in favor of Kavanaugh, they played her as being utterly horrified at the scene around her. It worked to great effect, with McKinnon coming back with her hilarious portrayal of Lindsey Graham, among others reprising their senatorial roles from last week. This horrific timeline of news stories can’t continue forever, so it would be fair to assume that neither will the timely cold opens on SNL, and unfortunately I assume they will get back to their indefensible Trump openings very soon.
The next highlight of the show came when Pete Davidson arrived on Weekend Update to discuss the Kanye controversy from last week. Davidson has become the show’s voice of the millennial, for better or worse. I tend to really like him, but the way the show seems hellbent on shoving him down our throats recently with the specific purpose of HERE’S PETE WITH THE UNDER 25 YEAR OLD TAKE ON SUCH AND SUCH is getting old and tired. Still, this Saturday he managed to come on with something important to say in regards to Kanye, and he echoed a lot of what I am feeling as a lifelong fan of Kanye’s music. He suggested he felt trapped on stage and held hostage when Kanye started to go on his Trump infused rant at the end of last week’s show, and he made clear that he in no way supports what Kanye has been preaching this year and wishes that he would shut his mouth for good. However, at the end of his monologue, he also indicated that he thinks Kanye is a musical genius and is ready to hear his new album. Having Davidson be the one to tackle the Kanye topic following last week was a good look for the show, and they handled it as well as they could.
For me, the highlight of the episode was undoubtedly Travis Scott’s performance. Promoting his latest album, Astroworld, which has been a major hit and perhaps his greatest success yet, Scott came into the show hot and with good reason. He has already begun his tour for the album and is considered one of hip hop’s best and most extravagant performers. He certainly lived up to that bill on SNL, commanding the stage and flowing with the gaudy production beautifully. He also had both Kevin Parker and John Mayer on stage with him for his somber yet effective first song. Of course, for his next song he played “Sicko,” which has been one of the biggest songs in the world since its release. Seeing his confidence on stage was a stark contrast to the flailing Kanye we saw last week. Travis set the bar high for the rest of the performers to come this season, but there is still much time left.
Saturday Night Live continues this Saturday night at 11:30/10:30ct on NBC
with Seth Myers / Paul Simon