Saturday Night Live – Season 44, Episode 6: Steve Carell/Ella Mai

Coming in hot this week was Steve Carell, promoting his role in Oscar-hopeful Beautiful Boy, to which there is some buzz he could receive an acting nomination. Following a lackluster cold open with Kate McKinnon again playing Laura Ingraham and Alex Moffat as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg, Carell took the stage for his opening monologue and quickly energized the show. It was clear he isn’t new to this as he showed commanding stage presence during his monologue and blended in beautifully to the sketches in the remainder of the show. However, many people will see the highlight of the episode to be the reunion of several cast members from the NBC classic series The Office, of which Carell starred in for its first seven seasons.

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Ellie Kemper, Jenna Fischer, Steve Carell & Ed Helms on Saturday Night Live

The whole monologue was built around the idea of teasing us with an Office reboot, and it was a ton of fun, eventually leading to him bringing Kemper, Fischer and Helms up on stage with him. After this lovely moment, I found the highlight of the episode to be the music video “RBG,” which was a rap song from Pete Davidson and Chris Redd about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, portrayed in the video by McKinnon. This video felt like an instant hit, something I haven’t felt from the show in a very long time. I was reminded of a time when the SNL music videos were a big deal a decade ago, generally starring Andy Samberg and his contemporaries. In a way, Davidson feels like the modern Samberg on the show. The song is catchy as hell and you could easily see it being played outside the context of the show, which is what would make it a hit. Don’t be surprised if you see this go viral online this week.

The final point of interest from the episode would be that of Ella Mai’s performances. She was an artist I had never heard of, but following these two performances, she is certainly on my radar. She reminded me of Jorja Smith, bringing a very soulful vibe and utilizing a wide vocal range in front of some excellent production. Like Maggie Rogers before her, Mai being a young artist on the rise and getting exposure on the nationally televised stage is what can make Saturday Night Live. More of this and less of Paul Simon / Lil Wayne types, please. The combination of her and the natural comedic prowess that Carell brought to the show made this one of my favorite episodes of the season thus far.

★★★★

Saturday Night Live continues Saturday, December 1st at 11:30/10:30ct on NBC
with Claire Foy / Anderson .Paak

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