Saturday Night Live – Season 44, Episode 5: Liev Schrieber/Lil Wayne

Saturday Night Live was back this week with Liev Schreiber hosting and Lil Wayne performing musical duties. An odd pairing to say the least, but SNL never really strives to give their host-to-music combo any sort of shared themes. Of course, Schreiber was there to promote the return of his hit series on Showtime, Ray Donovan, and Lil Wayne for the promotion of his return to music with Tha Carter V, which released in September. What followed was a wildly uneven 90 minutes of sketch comedy, laced with brief moments of intelligent humor and natural charisma from select members of its cast, Schreiber and Wayne.

Opening the show was Kate McKinnon, who effectively retired her impression of Jeff Sessions in light of him being forced out of the White House by Trump last week. The sketch was dull and uninteresting, leaving us thrilled at the thought that we will never have to endure that character on the show again. This brings me to my current stance on McKinnon, who was once the lone bright spot of the show; now clearly with her best work on there behind her, I would hope after this season will be moving on to other things. She should definitely be given a great amount of credit for keeping the show afloat in some really desperate transition years, but it is clear she is in a different place from the rest of the cast and doesn’t seem to be as invested as she once was. Perhaps this is just the result of me being tired of seeing her portray the same characters she has been for the last few years, and with bringing nothing new to the table, she has lost her luster. However, this could of course otherwise be attributed to poor writing, something that the show struggles with regularly.

To my surprise, this was Schreiber’s first time hosting, and I have to say he did a damn fine job. It was evident he had some nerves throughout as he stumbled over his words several times; however, it didn’t hold him back from an excellent stage presence and a commitment to his characters. He isn’t a natural comedian, but he is a tremendous actor and brought a lot of gravitas to this particular episode. It was fun seeing him try to stay in character as the cast attempted to make him laugh, but he did a good job.

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Dan Crenshaw & Pete Davidson on Saturday Night Live

Next, what would an episode of Saturday Night Live in 2018 be without giving Pete Davidson his five minutes on Weekend Update to speak his mind?! When they brought him out, I immediately rolled my eyes at the continuation of this shtick. But, goddammit, he quickly won me over again. The fact is, he’s really good at what he does. He exudes so much energy and charisma on the screen in whatever he does, and it can primarily be attributed to being able to tell that he is enjoying the hell out of this. We are laughing along with him, and with that, he’s naturally funny. It only got better once he brought out war veteran Dan Crenshaw, whom he received criticism over the past week for making fun of his disability sustained while serving in combat. Crenshaw came out and poked fun at Davidson, they had a good laugh together, and this proved to be a huge win for the show overall. I continue to hope we get to see Davidson move on to do other things sooner rather than later, as he frequently is the highlight of this show with his very short amount of screen time. I could easily see him starring in some Chappelle Show-like format on Netflix. Saturday Night Live has clearly realized they have a star on their hands, but this show is not best suited to showcase his talents.

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Lil Wayne & Swizz Beatz on Saturday Night Live

As for the performances from Lil Wayne, they can probably best be summed up with a simple, “it was fine.” It was interesting seeing and hearing the lavish display of music and presentation behind him, while he himself stood there mostly stationary and rapped mostly incoherent and frankly very much struggle bars. This is nothing new for Lil Wayne, who has been a wildly uninteresting and unsuccessful artist over the last decade. Still, the production behind him coupled with energized presentation from Halsey, Swizz Beats and his backup dancers managed to make the performances somewhat enjoyable. Overall, this was a pretty typical episode of Saturday Night Live with highs and lows, still turning out to be entertaining and worth the watch in the end.

★★★½

Saturday Night Live continues Saturday 11/17at 11:30/10:30ct on NBC
with Steve Carell / Ella Mai

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