“SNL” Season 48 Ep. 10 Review

Story posted January 26, 2023 in Arts & Entertainment by Sophia D'Ovidio.

Former NBC page and the real-life Wednesday Addams, Aubrey Plaza, finally hosted “Saturday Night Live” and had so many American icons make cameos. Oh and President Joe Biden was there.

Between Plaza’s eccentric persona and her beloved comedic roles, it’s hard to believe this was the actress's first time hosting the sketch show. Much of the success from this episode relied not just on Plaza’s iconic deadpan but how obvious it was that being on “SNL” was a dream come true for the actress.

“SNL’s” first episode of 2023 was an impressive addition to an unpredictably solid season.

Coming off a six-week holiday hiatus, the cast and crew had missed many big stories and did a good job using these trending topics, something “SNL” has struggled with in previous seasons.

The cold open utilized the Giants-Eagles game that ended only a few seconds before “SNL” began. This format offered the cast, particularly newcomers Molly Kearney and Devon Walker, the opportunity to master some non-political impressions.

Since it is an “SNL” cold-open, political satire came from Bowen Yang’s George Santos impression.

There were a lot of talks once news about Santos broke about how “SNL” would poke fun at the politician and his web of lies.

Former cast member Jon Lovitz impersonated the congressman on the “Tonight Show,” and many thought he would reprise it Saturday Night. Others predicted rookie Marcello Hernadez to take on his first big impression in Santos.

Yang has been an absolute superstar since he started; it’s not shocking he got tapped with this anticipated impression that carried the cold open.

Plaza’s monologue was a highlight of the night, a fantastic tone-setter for the rest of the show. There were jokes that the audience missed or reacted late due to Plaza’s delivery, but that didn’t make it less enjoyable.

Plaza was congratulated by President Joe Biden for beating him as the most famous person from Delaware and also for not dying in “The White Lotus.” This is the second time and the first since “SNL’s” first season that a sitting U.S. President would appear on the show.

The monologue brought the audience backstage as Plaza recounted her time as an NBC page, a not-very-good one.
Since COVID, “SNL” hasn’t had as many backstage monologues as they once did, and that was as welcome as Amy Poehler's predictable but exciting appearance for her former co-star.

“SNL” continued its strong start with one of the better sketches of the night. The “Miss Universe” sketch was an excellent take on the viral video of the Miss Universe pageant contestants.

To end an already absurd sketch, the judge of this pageant was the property brothers and Tony Hawk, which on a different night would’ve been such a ridiculous pick for cameos but worked so well in this Plaza episode.

In recent years “SNL” has struggled to capitalize on internet trends, either getting beat to the punch or just missing the point altogether.

However, in this episode, “SNL” did a great job of it on multiple occasions. The “M3GAN 2.0” sketch highlighted the phenomenon that movie is, resulting in a cameo from Allison Williams.

Another criticism “SNL” has had in its past era was its overreliance on celebrity cameos. Again, this episode used its many obscure cameos sparingly and cleverly, which just carried the night's fun episode.

“The Black Lotus,” “Taboo,” “HIV Commercial,” and “Morning Announcements” were other largely solid sketches.

This episode did a great job integrating the rookie cast into sketches, particularly Kearney, who feels like they have the potential to make an impressive run on the show.

The “Avatar” sketch was by far the weakest point, but Plaza and Heidi Gardner were able to keep the piece fun.

Saturday’s “Weekend Update” was among the best in Colin Jost and Michael Che’s run at the fake news desk. Both Jost and Che were having so much fun with their jokes and each other.

“Weekend Update” was also the newsworthy moment of the night. Yang returned his Santos impression, which he was likely slated to do before the cold-open was even written.

This Santos was much funnier, from Yang calling Madonna saying, “Like A Virgin, yeah I remember, I was there, I was the virgin,” or Jost reluctantly responding, “but I am gorgeous.”

But it was Poehler’s second appearance on the episode that made the entire night, as she and Plaza reprised their “Parks and Recreation” characters, Leslie Knope and April Ludgate. It was impressive how quickly the pair snapped right back into these beloved characters.

It was also a clever way to get Poehler behind the “Update” desk. The jokes were great because not only would Knope want to talk to Jost about his job, but Poehler is among the most iconic “Update” anchors.

From the continuation of Knope’s crush on Biden, noting when Seth Meyers anchored by himself, he made it look easy or even getting to see Poehler deliver an “Update” joke as Knope, it was a perfect way to honor “Parks and Rec” without tarnishing any sort of legacy.

So much of this episode was tailored toward Plaza. “Film Noir” was essentially a Janet Snakehole (another “Parks” reference) sketch that brought out another cameo with Sharon Stone.

“SNL” had another phenomenal episode that could be considered one of the best this season. While Plaza carried many sketches, that should’ve been expected from an actress who could’ve been a great cast member in a different lifetime.

Best Sketch of the Night: “Miss Universe” or “Morning Announcements”
Worst Sketch of the Night: “Avatar”
MVP: Aubrey Plaza
Unsung Heroes: Bowen Yang and Molly Kearny
A Wish for Next Week: If there is the same energy as this week, Michael B. Jordan should knock it out of the park.

Rating: 5/5

Sophia D’Ovidio is a second-year majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact her, email sgd5184@psu.edu.