Lena Dunham, Taran Killam and a Parade of Celebrity Cameos Turn in the Best 'Saturday Night Live' Of the Season
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Lena Dunham, Taran Killam and a Parade of Celebrity Cameos Turn in the Best 'Saturday Night Live' Of the Season

By Dustin Rowles | TV Reviews | March 9, 2014 | Comments ()


It was hard to know what to expect from Saturday Night Live after last week’s disastrous show with Jim Parsons, but they rebounded in a huge way. Lena Dunham not only proved herself adept at sketch comedy, but she was amazingly likable and self-deprecating in all the right ways. It’s as close to a perfect show as SNL has had in a long time. There were a couple of sketches that didn’t completely land, but there were no bombs, and quite a few huge crowd pleasers led by Taran Killam who may have also turned in his best overall performance in his run on the show with outstanding impressions of Harrison Ford, Adam Drive, and Matthew McConaughey.

Great f**king show.

Obama Ukraine Address Cold Open

In the Cold Open, President Obama discusses how the United States plans to deal with the crisis in Ukraine, and he calls in a special guest, Liam Neeson, to deliver a personal message to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Neeson gets a 9 out of 10 for brilliant self-parody, while the rest of the sketch gets a more modest 6 for shirtless Obama, uh, fighting a bear.

Lena Dunham Monologue

First-time host Lena Dunham talks about the nudity in her show “Girls,” and SNL cast members tell her private stories about their sex lives. First off, Dunham gets a D for her walk down the stairs. That was terrible. As for the monologue, Dunham acquits herself quite nicely, and neither the premise nor the writing were embarrassing. It’s not must-see or anything, but it’s totally worth watching and best of all, we were spared another musical number. (Score: 6/10)

Biblical Movie

“Girl” is Lena Dunham’s unique take on the life of Eve, a struggling twenty-something in the Garden of Eden. It definitely feels like a sketch that Dunham came to the show with, and it’s a spot-on parody of Girls. Taran Killam also completely rocks it as Adam Driver. Terrific. Bonus points for Apple Shaming. (Score: 9/10)

The Katt Williams Show

On this episode of “Pimpin Pimpin Pimpin with Katt Williams,” Katt talks to some of this year’s most talked-about Academy Award winners, presenters and attendees. I have no fucking idea why they trotted out a Katt Williams sketch, but it honestly may be Jay Pharoah’s best, funniest impression, and Dunham does an OK enough Liza Minnelli. Killam, though? Holy Lord. He crushed it. (Score 8/10; Taran Killam’s Harrison Ford Impression: 100,000 Grumpy Stars)


A recent college grad joins Olivia Pope’s team of gladiators and has a lot of questions, and it’s yet another terrific sketch buoyed by Taran Killam’s brief appearance as the President, Sasheer Zamata’s nice impression of Olivia Pope, and Beck Bennett’s weirdly perfect likeness of Guillermo Diaz. Dunham clearly has sketch comedy talent, even if most of her characters so far are a variation of Hannah Horvath. (Score: 7/10)

Ooh Child

A car sing-along gets repeatedly interrupted by the voice of a GPS. Not just a hilarious sketch, but until this moment I didn’t realize how much I wanted to see a musical starring Taran Killam and Cecily Strong. (Score: 10/10)

What Are You Even Doing

Nasim Pedrad and Lena Dunham play teenage girls who welcome their friend from school and Jon Hamm to their show about flirting with boys. The sketch itself is equal parts obnoxious and funny, but the Jon Hamm appearance makes it absolutely worth it. (Score: 6/10; Hamm Drop By: 10 Fat Bettys)

Jewelry Party

A jewelry party gets siderailed when a male guest reveals his profession as a men’s rights activist. Awkward. But funny. Also awkward, but kind of how you might expect this real-life scenario might go. (Score: 6/10)

Weekend Update

Colin Jost has a much better, much more comfortable, more confident second stint as co-anchor, but again, Taran Killam absolutely slays it as Matthew McConaughey with a better impression than even Matt Damon. It is everything. It’s so good, in fact, that I’ll excuse the Fred Armisen cameo as one of Putin’s best friends from childhood. (Score: 10 out of 10 Yellow Kings).

What’s Poppin’

A less-than-great rap group is booked last-minute on MTV2’s show, “What’s Poppin’.” It may be the night’s worst sketch, but even still, I’ll give it a 5/10 for energy and white rap skills and rhyming talent.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Veal Oskar

    Pretty confident that Rowles wrote this review the moment it was announced that Dunham would host and just filled in the names of the sketches as he watched the show. Did anyone thing Dunham would get anything less than a rave from Pajiba, the website for humorless women who make up the "Girls" demo and the half-men who strive to impress them? Dunham was OK if we rate her on the scale we use for athletes/non-performers; she fumbled lines, giggled at her own jokes, and was able to come up with one character--surprise, surprise--a quasi-Valley girl.

  • Davis

    Every episode of SNl stinks but the reviews of the show from this site are either 'best' or 'worst of the series isn't there any middle ground for you?

  • phase10

    "...Taran Killam absolutely slays it as Matthew McConaughey with a better impression than even Matt Damon."

    Is it just me, or was there a hint of Brad Pitt in there as well? It was still a spot on impersonation. Loved it.

  • It really wasn't bad. Not great, but Dunham was enthusiastic and funny, which goes a long way towards making an episode fun. HAAAAMM of course was the best part of it, but I loved the Scandal sketch and the McCounaghey impression.

    The Jewelry Sale sketch and Putin's Best Friends though? AWFUL. I'm sure someone must've thought something in those was funny but I'll be damned if I can figure out what the hell that must be. They were painful to watch and went on forever.

  • AudioSuede

    That was seriously a homerun episode from top to bottom. Thank god, because if it had been a shitshow, the anti-hipster bullshit contingent would have been fucking unbearable all week.

  • Parsnip

    First SNL I've watched in some time, wanted to see Dunham and the current SNL crew. Over the years I've always found SNL hit and miss, but the cast would be endearing and adorable and at times when the sketches were weak I still liked them for the performers. I think Dunham did a pretty decent job but I found myself analysing her after all the stuff I'd read about her. Is she good, is she rubbish - I came to the conclusion she wasn't bad at all and I can see her getting better. Woman has confidence and I like it. The real problem with SNL (for me) along with the lame sketches (except for the MM bit which made me smile) is the current cast. They are a dull, dry bunch of comedy writers with little to no imagination. But what do I know, SNL is still on telly and still going strong so maybe I don't get it, but at least I have the cowbell and Colonel Lingus.

  • No real surprise given the host and musical guest, but the ratings for last night's show were the second-worst of the season. Edward Norton just kicked his dog.


  • dizzylucy

    Definitely an improvement, but I seem to remember liking the Drake and Kerry Washington episodes more. Liam Neeson was the best part of this one, I thought, but I have to agree that Taran Killam is really great.

  • Why does Colin Jost look like a Mad Men character?

  • Wrestling Fan

    I was thoroughly whelmed by what I saw of the episode. It wasn't great, it wasn't terrible, it was just..... there.
    The musical act made so little impact on me that 12 hours later, I couldn't tell you their name.
    Colin Jost seemed better than he did last week because he showed the slightest amount of personality. He still can be out performed by Siri, but at least he didn't have the 1000 yard stare this week. I dunno, I'll give him a few more weeks to see if he actually warms up or if this is what we're going to get.

  • Jifaner

    I've never seen GIrls and never cared one way or the other about Lena Dunham but I was pleasantly surprised with her here. She was funny. It was a great SNL, and omg Taran Killiam's the best part of the show right now. The musical guest was really good, too.

  • Jezzer

    "Dunham clearly has sketch comedy talent, even if most of her characters so far are a variation of Hannah Horvath."

    Yes, indeedy, the absofuckinglute hallmark of sketch comedy talent is the inability to portray characters who are distinguishable from one another.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    I'll take a one trick pony over a no trick pony (see also, Justin Beiber's SNL run). And self-deprecation goes a long way in my book.

  • Jezzer

    I'll take no tricks over one trick that makes me want to take a hostage.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    Fair nuff.

  • manting

    If this is the best episode of the season then SNL has fallen farther then I thought. I think you have Dunham is great blinders on. She was meh, not terrible, but certainly not great.

  • The episode was very hit and miss for me. I don't watch Scandal so thought that sketch was ok at best. Taran Killam's impressions were absolutely the best part. I was impressed by Dunham on the show, she obviously came to work and gave it her all. I loved that she didn't corpse when she blew the line during the jewelry party sketch, recovered with an ad lib, and kept right on going. The show was average but Dunham was great and hopefully silenced the haters. I can see her joining the cameo roster on the show in the future, she had great chemistry with the cast.

  • Ehhhhhh, I enjoyed the Fallon/Timberlake and Drake episodes much more. I went to sleep after the news, but I didn't turn it off thinking I was missing a classic.

    The Scandal sketch did a great job highlighting that show's ridiculousness ("It'll take 24 hours/I need it in one minute/done") but I'm not sure I laughed more than a few times. Same with the Girls segment. Like that Real Disney Princesses sketch a while back, the premise was better than the execution. And I must have been the only person who thought "Oooh Child" was terrible. I get it, the GPS is going to interrupt her. Great kicker, though.

    Dunham was decent. Didn't know what to expect out of her but I thought she acquitted herself well. And Killam's MM impression was just money. The hand gestures took it an unprecedented level. Very impressive.

  • LL

    Absolutely agree. It was a great episode in context to what preceded it, but of the whole season? Dunham was good, but the rest of the cast supported her. Fallon/Timberlake/Drake could hold their own and did great impressions.

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