It was an incredibly tense week for host and musical guest Miley Cyrus, but despite rumors that her feud with Sinéad O’Connor would become fodder for an SNL sketch (with a giant foam middle finger), there was no reference to the whole open letter mess. The series did manage to shove Cyrus’ VMA controversy aside immediately, tackling her new public persona in the opener (“Hannah Montana was murdered,” the pop idol tells us during her monologue). The political gags were saved for a remake of the singer’s video for “We Can’t Stop,” starring Cyrus as a tarted up Michele Bachmann twerking all over Taran Killam’s John Boehner. Things went from wild to mild for the rest of the episode, but there were several subtle references to Cyrus’ transformation that stuck with us. See more of last night’s best and worst, below.
VMAs Backstage Cold Open
Thank you for sparing us another CNN logo and cutting right to the chase, SNL. We were treated to a VMA-inspired apocalypse and Old Miley meeting New Miley. Taran Killam took on Robin Thicke, threatening to grab his junk and half-sing (please don’t), while Jay Pharoah showed up as Will Smith and reminded us that he can do impressions that aren’t Obama. It was far from perfect, but the sketch made for a refreshingly different cold open.
50 Shades of Grey Auditions
It’s time to cast Fifty Shades of Grey with the least convincing couples in Hollywood: Steve Harvey and Rebel Wilson, Mary-Louise Parker and Aziz Ansari, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Kristen Stewart (I kept thinking of his Happiness character, which probably made this sketch seem funnier than it actually was), etc. Should there ever be a Jane Lynch biopic, Kate McKinnon has a job.
Girlfriends Talk Show
Missed you, Aidy Bryant. And it’s great to see Cecily Strong in a sketch even though her new home is behind the Weekend Update desk. Cyrus joined girl pals Morgan and Kyra as hip-hop club member Lil Tini. Twerking happened, but Bryant ruled when her usual insecurity about the friendship kicked in. She confessed her nickname (“Night Crier”), she talked about “consoling a divorcée,” and later belted out a sweet jam about her mom. This time around, we find out that Kyra’s creepy boyfriend enjoys locking himself in a panic room while watching her eat pizza.
Weekend Update: Pat Lynhart, Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy, Winners/Losers, Shannon Sharpe
A parade of great characters: Kate McKinnon’s mom from Connecticut hopped up on Grand Theft Auto V (“I eat cocaine for breakfast!”), Jay Pharaoh’s lip-smacking Shannon Sharpe (with drool on his chin), and Vanessa Bayer’s Jacob, Bar Mitzvah Boy (orthotics are the gift that keeps on giving). There was also a Winners/Losers government shutdown edition that gave Strong more time to shine.
Bayer’s enthusiastic substitute poetry teacher is a little too close to her Jacob, Bar Mitzvah Boy and an ultra hyper Miley Cyrus, but it’s charming nonetheless. Cyrus appeared as an angsty outcast who pens a love poem to the poetry prof — probably one of her most interesting characters during the mediocre evening (the blame is on the writers). It would have been great to see more subtle nods to Miley’s evolution like this, even if the character needed a little work.
These talking heads get increasingly weird. Miley showed off her comedic chops. “Bitch Fantastic” for President.
We Did Stop
Here’s the aforementioned video for the government shutdown remix of “We Can’t Stop.”
More weird gone wrong — this time with alien abductions, bad wire work (the stagehand spotted mid sketch was jarring), and Kenan Thompson smothered in terrible makeup.
Miley Sex Tape
Are the writers trying to make Kyle Mooney the next Andy Samberg? Miley played Miley, but thankfully it wasn’t painful.
Piers Morgan Reviews The Clinton Biopics
“If I was in a cartoon, I would be the voice of a fancy hedgehog,” and Kate McKinnon’s “Heisenhower,” but that’s it. Worst Bill Clinton, ever.