Heading back in time to the ‘80s, Hunger Games heartthrob Josh Hutcherson donned a mullet for this absurd and clever remix of The Outfield’s “Your Love.” Vanessa Bayer’s sweater dress got a workout as Hutcherson serenaded her with the creepy, but addictive song. We were missing The Lonely Island’s musical addition to the series, so this was a welcome episode. Watch the sketch.
“Michelle Obama at the White House Cold Open”
Kerry Washington starred in one of the most talked-about episodes of the season. It was also one of the strongest. Her talent and presence elevated the episode’s weakest moments, and although we knew she was a dramatic force, it was great to her comedic side (on outrageous display in the “My Girl” sketch). But it was the “Michelle Obama at the White House Cold Open” that became a hot discussion point about SNL’s lack of diversity. The controversial cold open further underlined the show’s limitations despite the self-aware wink — and it stung. Just a few weeks before the episode, star Kenan Thompson made disparaging remarks about black female comedians, and nerves were (rightfully) raw. Al Sharpton summed it up best at the end of the skit: “What have we learned from this sketch? As usual, nothing.” Well, it did inspire an audition for black, female cast members and many important conversations.
“Upper West Side 2063”
A surprisingly poignant moment on the series surfaced when Lady Gaga hosted the show, revealing a look at her future (in the year 2063) as a forgotten, elder pop star. As an SNL sketch, it wasn’t perfect, but the context was compelling, and the dial was turned to dark. On a comedy show that often feels formulaic and uninspired, an unexpected bit of pathos is still welcome — even if it was a damning and depressing critique of the music industry. And really, we needed a palette cleanser after watching R. Kelly dry hump the singer on stage during their performance of “Do What U Want.” Watch the sketch.
“VMAs Backstage Cold Open”
In the thick of the Miley Cyrus VMA controversy, SNL debuted this sketch that wasted no time commenting on the singer’s makeover of her public persona. Vanessa Bayer’s Old Miley visits the future to try to talk some sense into New Miley. We’re singling this one out as a time capsule for the singer’s controversial year, even though we preferred the subtleties of other sketches and the moments where Miley wasn’t just playing Miley — as in the “Mornin’ Miami” sketch — or a parody of Miley.
Damn, we really miss Breaking Bad.
John Goodman, David Koechner, Will Ferrell, and former SNL writer Adam McKay reunited for this blast from the past. The fabled Bill Brasky is honored with another red-nosed round after a 15-year hiatus.