SNL came back from their break with a bang. The first episode of 2020 — hosted by Adam Driver with musical guest Halsey — opened with a dig at the Republican Party and their associations, in particular the current Senate impeachment trial against President Donald Trump.
The Cold Open
The episode started with Senator Susan Collins (Cecily Strong) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Beck Bennet) going over details for the trial. They are then joined by Alan Dershowitz (surprise guest and former cast member Jon Lovitz), infamous defense lawyer for O.J. Simpson, Jeffrey Epstein, and now for President Trump.
Collins and McConnell plead with Dershowitz not to mention his former clients, as that might somehow taint his defense for Trump.
Dershowitz suddenly falls ill and is then transported to the deep world of Hell, where he’s enthusiastically greeted by the Devil herself (an always fantastic Kate McKinnon). It’s then a who’s-who of Hell: Epstein (played by host, Driver), Flo from the Progressive commercials (Heidi Gardner), and also, tragically, Mr. Peanut.
The cold open doesn’t exactly push the boundaries (honestly SNL usually is afraid to), but they are also usually snappy with the cultural references (Mr. Peanut and the impeachment) and how they put those into perspective (the Hell scene; because, let’s be real, this current timeline we’re in isn’t exactly a walk through the park).
Driver opened the show in a very “chill” way (even his emo performance as Kylo Ren was very loud). The performance bit was mostly forgettable with one stand out: as Driver paced around the stage, he mentioned he was wasting time in hopes that the final sketch of the night (in which Driver would be in drag) would be cut for time. “I can’t tell if it’s really transphobic or if it’s really dated,” Driver says, to a roar of laughter. No sketch like that did air during the episode.
You remember ‘90s and early 2000s R&B music? How slow the beats were, the vocals, the foreplay in the music videos? Musical guest Halsey joins Gardner and Ego Nwodim as women who are tired of their slow R&B boyfriends (Kenan Thompson, Chris Redd, and Driver).
The music video builds up to the laughable climax (winky face emoji) where all three girls wait for their men to pick them up. And when they show up, boy do they take their time. “I think these guys are actually slow slow,” Gardner says.
The digital short music video — of course inspired by the ones made during Andy Samberg’s tenure — is no “D*** in a Box,” (nothing is), but it does the trick well and surely woke me back up when I was starting to lose interest in the episode.
By Michael Jacobo