Welcome to the 41st season of Saturday Night Live. With our 2016 election campaign already dominating the headlines, thanks to the insanity of candidates like Donald Trump, this season of SNL promises to deliver. Taran Killam will be playing the Republican presidential front-runner, while Kate McKinnon polishes her best “hard, tan business shoes” (more on that in our recap) to resume her role as Hillary Clinton.
Last season was a time of transition for the cast and writers. Jon Rudnitsky joins the gang as a featured player this season (and got more screen time in the inaugural season 41 ep than return cast member Sasheer Zamata, ahem). SNL also hired six new writers, but only two women (Fran Gillespie and Sudi Green).
Miley Cyrus kicks things off for 41 as host and musical guest. Historically, her appearances have been strong — though she’s been underused in the live sketches. See how it all went down last night, below.
“Donald and Melania Trump Cold Open”
It’s hard to top the caricature that Trump has made of himself, but Taran Killam does a fine job as the sneering presidential hopeful. Cecily Strong plays Trump’s poor wife Melania and, like we imagine in real life, becomes the butt of a few jokes.
“Miley Cyrus Monologue”
SNL finds a clever way to recap all the biggest and craziest stories from the summer, with appearances by Kim Davis (yes, Aidy Bryant, yes) and Rachel Dolezal. Shout out to Pizza Rat.
“Abilify for Candidates”
“It’s the only dementia medication designed for eleven specific people.”
It’s all sweet as pie at the ‘50s sock hop until Miley’s character opens her mouth. She finds a guy by essentially clubbing him over the head and dragging him away by the hair — but with gangster rap-style rhymes and her friend “Nasty Jack.” This one has its moments, though it was a little too easy.
“Hillary Clinton Bar Talk”
Who knew Hillary Clinton could do such a killer Donald Trump impression? The presidential candidate proves she’s willing to kick off her “hard, tan business shoes” and make fun of herself. Kate McKinnon proves she has nerves of steel by performing her Hillary for thee Hillary — and nails the line of the night, “Could’ve been sooner,” when talking about supporting gay marriage (just watch). More political sketches like this one, please.
Kyle Mooney feels like things with Miley are a little too perfect — and the history of their relationship plays out in fast forward, bizarro world-style.
Michael Che and Colin Jost seem more comfortable feeding off of one another, but the funnies are slow and brief. Kyle Mooney’s Pope was forgettable. Leslie Jones has energy to spare, as usual: “I want to have sexual with you!” Let’s hope the dynamic continues to improve.
More unfunny jokes about phone-obsessed and entitled millennials. Awkward gags about gender abound. Even Miley looked uncomfortable at certain points during the sketch.
The girls get together at Katz and imitate the famous When Harry Met Sally orgasm scene, but Leslie Jones’ character gets too real for them to handle. Sadly, the joke loses focus and winds up just being screamy. But Jones is still more exuberant than some cast members combined.
Taylor Swift’s squad brings the apocalypse, during which I totally zoned out.
The concept of a forgotten talk show host during America’s most racist era was compelling, but the sketch ended awkwardly and segued immediately into the next one without warning.
Musical Guest: Miley Cyrus
“Karen Don’t Be Sad”
“The Twinkle Song”