“SNL” S48 Episode 1 Review
“Saturday Night Live” is back with a new season and a different cast, or as host Miles Teller playing Peyton Manning put it, “yeah, it’s definitely a rebuilding year.”
To anyone remotely aware of “SNL,” it is evident that the show is going through significant changes, being thrust into a new era since losing eight cast members.
It isn’t just the number of cast members, but the ones who left. Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson and Kyle Mooney announced they would leave the series before the season 47 finale.
In August, it was then announced that Melissa Villasenor, Alex Moffat and Aristotle Athari would not be returning either.
Chris Redd was the latest to be announced as leaving the series after only five years on the show. This announcement was surprising because it was late and because Redd had been a heavy hitter for “SNL” in season 47.
However, there is the recent news of Redd now dating “SNL” iconic Keenan Thompson’s (who just entered his 20th season on the show) ex-wife. While reports say there is no bad blood between the two, the timing is suspicious at best.
“SNL” has leaned into its apparent rebuilding year status, not just by making fun of itself but also by revamping the aesthetics of the series.
The “SNL” opening credits were reshot with a rearranged version of its iconic intro song being used. The “Saturday Night Live” font was changed, including the logo on the show's social media pages.
These changes were welcome, “SNL” is a show divided into distinct eras, and these aesthetic changes further aid the public in accepting this new era.
Saturday's show was crucial, even in an apparent trial and era time.
Before the show even started, decisions behind the scenes were questionable. The decision to have Miles Teller host was maybe not the smartest.
Teller was a fantastic performer, gave it his all and had fun while doing it. The criticism of having him host isn’t on Teller but rather the producers at “SNL.”
Season premiers at “SNL” are typically rocky regardless of cast turnover. This is when a host can aid an episode. In the past season, premier hosts were big names in comedy, often “SNL” alumni or at the least a big celebrity often associated with the show.
However, “SNL” got ahead of the rebuilding year and even host criticisms in its cold-open. It was opting to steer away from a political satire and instead satirize itself.
This meta cold-open featured Teller playing Peyton Manning and Andrew Dismukes playing Eli Manning, parodying the brother's show “ManningCast.”
Rather than having the former quarterbacks commentate a football game, the two gave their commentary on the season premiere of “SNL.”
It was a genius move, making fun of the series' reputation for having hollow pulled from headlines satire, the mass exodus of cast members and trying to take part in TikTok trends.
The sketch even had a cameo from Jon Hamm (who would’ve been a better and safer bet for the hosting gig).
The cold-open was meta and amusing; being able to make fun of itself “SNL” felt like a breath of fresh air for the first time in years.
As for the rest of the episode, it was fine.
There were highlights, particularly the prerecorded sketches.
The “BeReal” sketch was a perfect mix of relatable and irrational; it showed “SNL” could keep up with current trends without being as cringeworthy as it has been in the recent past.
The “Nicole Kidman AMC Ad” was a perfect impression from Chloe Fineman as Kidman, along with an absurd story. It was a shock it had taken “SNL” so long to parody the AMC ads as they have become such a beloved online joke.
The “Charmin Bears” and “Rooftop Bar” sketches were rough. It’s bad when even Thompson can’t charm the audience through a sketch.
Weirdly, “Weekend Update” felt somewhat out of place in the show. With so much emphasis on a rebuilding year, it was weird to see the longest-running update duo still behind the fake news desk.
“Weekend Update” remained as reliable as ever. Colin Jost and Michael Che are still great at what they do.
New cast member Michael Longfellow got a feature where he discussed his parents being conservative. Longfellow did a fine job and was the only new cast member to have a significant moment in this episode, but he didn’t compare it with the other two update features.
That isn’t really fair, considering Thompson paired with James Austin Johnson as the hilarious duo of Herschal Walker and Mitch McConnell, further emphasizing that Thompson has still got it.
Bowen Yang, the clear star of this new generation at “SNL,” stole the night at “Weekend Update” with his aggressive impersonation of the spotted lantern fly. Yang’s high-energy parody of reality show guests was a welcome burst of energy to carry into the later half of the show.
A shock to no one was Kendrick Lamar's phenomenal live performances of “Father Time,” “N95” and “Rich Spirit.” Having such a big name as the musical guest was essential to this episode's success, and Lamar was the perfect person to rely on.
“SNL” may have had a mediocre night, but there’s much to be hopeful for. The new cast members still have time to find their footing and shine; with a much smaller cast than before, they will likely be able to do so.
From the premier, it is clear that this cast gels well together; they evidently had fun which wasn’t always the vibe the cast gave off over the past few seasons.
There is still a long season ahead, and “SNL” this start of a new era may have been rocky, but it did prove that the show, for lack of better phrasing, has the opportunity to be great again.
Best Sketch of the Night: “ManningCast Cold Open”
Worst Sketch of the Night: “Rooftop Bar”
MVP: Keenan Thompson and Bowen Yang
Unsung Hero: Kendrick Lamar
A Wish for Next Week: Give the “Please Don’t Destroy” boys a prerecorded sketch.
Sophia D’Ovidio is a second-year majoring in communications. To contact her, email email@example.com.