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TV Review: Saturday Night Live‘s Season Premiere – Sex May Sell, But It Isn’t Funny

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As Saturday Night Live enters its 35th season, a common question arises among viewers: why is this show still on? The debate is never-ending as to what SNL era was the greatest and while each side has its pros and cons, it really comes down to what generation you belong to. Unless you are part of a certain generation, you will never fully understand why a particular cast was so strong or so weak. After this past weekend’s show, it is quite clear that for my generation, the current cast is a weak mix that inevitably falls for the quickest gimmick — sex.

With Megan Fox on board as the season opener host, one could only expect sexual, hotness-based sketches. The writers did not fail, sadly, and produced an array of sketches playing off Ms. Fox’s looks. Apparently she is attractive, but after seeing her in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in IMAX, I tend to disagree.  HD IMAX is not good for anyone’s complexion. 

The current writing staff appears to be a limited bunch at the moment. They are able to create sharp parodies and their political sketches are particularly strong, evident with their Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday. Except on this weekend’s opening Muammar Gaddafi sketch that was less entertaining than the actual speech itself, such as Gaddafi's suggestion of abolishing Switzerland.  

Moving into the opening monologue, Ms. Fox discussed naked pictures of herself on the Internet. The monologue relied too heavily on photo gags and not enough on Ms. Fox. And what could have been a potential to break away from her hotness factor and maybe discuss why Transformers was great and Jennifer’s Body bombed instead ended up with pictures and U2 imposed on women’s bodies. The U2 bit was entertaining, though, because the musical performances left me scratching my head since they seem to be entering performance art.

From the opening monologue onwards, sex, hotness, and oddities were the only thing driving the sketches. The only ones that were particularly good involved Fred Armisen as a hideous Russian bride and Kenan Thompson introducing various sex positions.

I am pulling for Kenan Thompson. Every since his turn in D3: The Mighty Ducks and All That, the kid can play silly very well and has a tremendous ability to enter absurd characters. Grady Wilson, an old man advertising sex positions in boxers, black socks, and a white t-shirt, probably the most sexually repulsive attire known? I dig it.

Unfortunately with this episode, women were underused, except for Kristen Wiig. Ms. Wiig is the only female powerhouse on SNL because the other current female talent is limited. Abby Elliot played a straight man and needs more screen time. Jenny Slate's debut was the most talked about feature from this week’s episode because she dropped the f-bomb in the middle of a sketch.

Ms. Slate’s mistake is understandable because the whole sketch was based on using “fricking” instead of its less FCC appropriate cousin. While watching, I was expecting a slip-up, and suddenly, there it was. And while I’m sure Ms. Slate will be around, please put the women in some better sketches because the premise was awful.

I need to look more into the show’s creation, but if these are the types of sketches SNL's female cast members are creating for themselves, then there is good reason why they aren’t getting air time — they just aren’t that funny.

I think it’s difficult for women to be funny because it involves completely throwing yourself out on the line and most women have some restraint that doesn’t allow them do go completely over the edge. The only reason Ms. Slate's name is being discussed is because of the f-bomb. If it wasn't for that hiccup, people would primarily be focusing on how lousy the sketch was. There are funnier premises than running a talk show out of someone's basement.

Next week's line-up includes Ryan Reynolds and Lady Gaga. Reynolds is a goof and will presumably have better influence over sketches. If Lady Gaga appears in a sketch, I think SNL will be a better place for everyone.

About Kate Brandli

  • http://waftingcurtains.wordpress.com Chelsea Doyle

    I didn’t mind the airplane sketch. It’s the only one I found really funny.

  • http://www.iamcorrect.com Lono

    I wanted to jump in and comment about the F bomb incident. I watched the show live, I never miss it. I didn’t even catch that. However, I live in Denver… so probably got the edited version.

    Anyhow, I think it is awesome she dropped an F bomb. It shows the operation is still live, and stuff really happens. Who is offended? Anyone watchingt TV at midnight on a Saturday isn’t likely a puritan type.

    My only regret, and this is a big one, is that it was cleaned up by the time it got to Denver. That is weak! Perhaps the show should be called ‘Saturday Night Live on the Eastern Seaboard only’. In order to keep the integrity of the show in tact, it should have run completely and unedited in every time zone.

    Now, I can see why it would be replaced by rehearsal in re-runs (a very common thing SNL does). However, I am bummed to think I stay up late and suffer through so much crap and won’t even get tiny gaffes. Thank god for the great skits that really tow the line (this one wasn’t at all).

    The great ones are the corksoaking family (you can imagine how that one plays out. Janet Jackson was on, and it was awesome). Also, and I think I waited all my life for this gag to be on TV… the Sofa King sketch. “here at Sofa King, our prices are Sofa King low, we must be crazy. We only use things which are the sofa king best.” To watch those pros riff on ‘so fucking’ for three minutes was gold.

    Anyhow, good luck rookie. Rumor has it that Charlie Rocket got fired for that F bomb (I remember seeing that too). Since then, he has sadly killed himself.

    I am pretty sure I saw Norm McDonald drop an F bomb during the news, but no one mentions that.

    anyhow, I am a loser SNL scholar I guess. It sure makes this weekend worth watching. Lorne is smart enough to milk this. Am hoping the cold opening skit will reference it.