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Review: “Saturday Night Live” returned – I was underwhelmed

“Saturday Night Live” is back for the first time since the writers’ strike, but its return gave me a chuckle and nothing more.
Image by Ava Weinreis
“SNL” is not starting their season with a hard hitter.

“Saturday Night Live” (SNL) returned for season 48 Saturday with former cast member Pete Davidson as the host and rapper Ice Spice as the musical guest. This lineup was originally scheduled for May 6 but was canceled due to the writer’s strike

The episode itself was not bad, but “SNL” is not starting their season with a hard hitter. The episode had its funny moments, but many sketches didn’t land properly. 

“SNL” always has a musical guest, one that is typically popular at that moment in time. This week’s musical host was Ice Spice who has not done many performances but is still able to capture an audience. 

The performance was lacking. After looking at other live performances by Ice Spice, I was able to pinpoint why this one was lackluster. Ice Spice usually has a toned-down performance style, but she typically has a lot going around her while she performs — dancers, lights and an audience hyping her up. Her performance on “SNL” did not lack fancy lights, but it did lack in everything else. There were only two dancers around her along with some flashing lights. Neither of these truly added to her performance and just made it awkward to watch.

“SNL” decided to forgo their traditional cold open in exchange for a heartfelt statement from Davidson. During this, he made connections to the lives of the children affected by the war in Israel and Gaza to losing his dad in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He tells a story of how after his father’s death, his mom accidentally bought him an explicit Eddie Murphy stand-up special CD, but let it continue to play because she hadn’t heard him laugh like that in a while.

“I’m going to do what I’ve always done in the face of tragedy, and that’s try to be funny. Remember I said try,” Davidson said towards the end of the cold open. That one sentence explains why I enjoy Davidson as a comedian and why I wanted to watch this season opener. 

Despite a strong cold open, Davidson’s monologue was not my favorite. It had its moments that made me chuckle, but it wasn’t filled with the dark humor that Davidson is known for. 

My favorite parts of the monologue occurred during the second half of the set. It was classic Pete Davidson, making fun of Staten Island and making the audience question whether or not they should laugh or not. 

Throughout the show, there were references to moments that briefly took over social media throughout the past few months. “SNL” referenced Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce dating, the Delta airline diarrhea incident, people’s brief obsession with the show “Suits” and of course, the “Barbie” movie. 

The cast did a parody of the song “I’m Just Ken,” which I assume Davidson pitched because he pitched many parody videos during his time on “SNL.” The song was called “I’m Just Pete.” This sketch was the highlight of the episode for me. It was clever and was able to reference a majority of Davidson’s popular moments — from his dating history, his mental illness, to his brief slightly one-sided beef with Kanye West — in four minutes. My favorite line from the song was “I’m just Pete/Anyone else I’d be a three.” The catchy line will be in my head for the entire week. 

Weekend Update is typically my favorite part of “SNL” but didn’t live up to my expectations this week. My least favorite part was the Christopher Columbus bit. Bowen Yang played Christopher Columbus, who of course took credit for discovering things that he did not. I understand that was the point of the bit, however, the bit was four minutes long but felt longer. I was waiting for it to end, but it just kept going. They were beating a dead horse by the end of it. 

Even the parts that I found funny were not that well-written. There was a bit where Michael Che had Colin Jost say a joke that he would typically be inappropriate for him to say. It was a one-sided version of the joke swap tradition that the two hosts do. However, the joke swap was the only highlight of Weekend Update this week.

It feels as if Davidson just left the show, so it felt as if there was no host for this episode, especially since Davidson was in this episode just as much as he was when he was a part of the cast. 

The ideas behind the sketches were there and had potential, but most of them fell flat either because of the writing, the acting or both. Since it was only the first episode of the season, there is hope for improvement after what could have been a promising start to the season.

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  • Pam
    Dec 17, 2023 at 3:51 am

    I have also watched Saturday Night Live for a very many years. I have tried to watch it for the past 8 to 10 years to see if the content was worthy of my time. However I am so disappointed that the content is so not what it used to be. If you can’t get writers and skits they have any basis or real humor I’m not sure what’s missing but it’s not the same and I can’t continue to try to watch it. I try every week and I just deleted it from my list of tape shows I’m sad by that because it used to be a really good form of entertainment, but no longer will I try to watch it because it is so boring and so, not Worth my time.

  • Marlena Buzzell
    Oct 29, 2023 at 12:45 am

    I have watched Saturday night live for probably 30 years. Now, sadly, Aside from the Colin Jost and Michael Shay — it’s not worth staying up for.

    All the talent is gone and Lauren has lost it! Too bad, but it was a good run.

  • Tony Lobasso
    Oct 22, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    I have been watching the show for about 35 yrs. These first three shows were the worst ever. A few times during the October 21 show I turned to the weather. channel. I finally decided to go to sleep

  • PP
    Oct 18, 2023 at 9:30 pm

    I guess all the idiotic political shenanigans over the last 4 months was not worth sending up in the irreverent SNL style — because truth is stranger than fiction?

  • Appalled
    Oct 17, 2023 at 2:19 am

    Inappropriate sexualizing youth. Shameful.