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Scoring 'Saturday Night Live': The Luminous Kerry Washington Hosts the Season's Best Episode So Far

By Dustin Rowles | TV Reviews | November 3, 2013 | Comments ()


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Cold Open — Kerry Washington comes out as Michelle Obama (which could not be more perfect), then comes out as Oprah when Kenan Thompson refuses to do so (and again, could not be more perfect), and then the voiceover announcer apologizes for the number of black women Kerry Washington will be forced to play tonight. Ha! This is a first (to my knowledge). Sure, celebrities frequently appear on the show to rehabilitate their reputations after scandals by poking fun of themselves, but here, SNL is attempting to rehabilitate its own reputation for a lack fo diversity by making fun of its lack of diversity. Will it make a difference (as the actual Al Sharpton asks)? No. But is it amusing and self aware? Absolutely. (Many on Twitter, it appears, disagree with me. I suppose a more cynical take is that, by making light of a serious situation, SNL is minimizing it.) (Score: 8/10)

Monologue — Washington deals with cast members issues a la Olivia Pope, and again, SNL makes fun of itself a bit when Washington suggests that Bayer maybe oughtn’t play Miley Cyrus so often. Unfortunately, the monologue is another too short one that ends just as it seems to warm up. (Score: 6/10)

Career Week Speaker — Nasim Pedra plays a Yemenese motivational speaker, who cha-chings with machine-gun audio effects. I don’t really know what’s going on in this sketch. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, and it’s not very funny, but Kerry Washington is fantastic in it. (Score: 2/10 for the sketch; 9/10 for Kerry Washington’s performance).

What Does My Girl Say? — A parody of “What does a Fox say?” that only works — and works brilliantly — because it’s Kerry Washington who is playing the bitchy girlfriend. YAN YANH YAN YAN YANH YAN. (Score: 9/10)

How’s He Doing? — A recurring sketch in which black voters are asked how Obama is doing, after voter approval with that constituency falls to a startling 93.6 percent. Basically, it turns into a great stand-up act about how annoying white people are, and it is fantastic. The jokes about The Wire? All directed at 90 percent of the people who read this site. BOOM. Roasted. (Score: 8/10)

Ms. Universe Pageant — Not a great sketch, although Washington as Ms. Uganda is fun, and Kate McKinnon as the coked-up Ms. Bolivia is terrific. (Score: 5/10)

Weekend Update — Kerry Washington’s energy clearly worked itself into Weekend Update, as Seth Meyers and Cecily Strong turn in a great outing with Obama-heavy Headlines. Strong lands the best joke with a Kanye/Kardashian dig. (Score: 8/10)

Angela Merkel — Kate McKinnon plays the Chancellor of Germany who had criticized Obama and the NSA for tapping her phone, and here, she’s revealing all of her embarrassing Google searches. “Jason Segal naked.” Eh. Not even McKinnon can save this one. (Score: 3/10)

Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal — I have no idea why Jay Pharoah is channeling Sling Blade for his Shaq impression, but it works. (Score: 7/10)

Cartoon Cathphrase — The phone-a-friend segment on a daytime game show goes awry in a very, very bad sketch that not even Kerry Washington, as the game show host, can salvage. (Score: 2/10)

Principal FryeNo. Attention Teachers and Students: The show took a wrong turn after “Weekend Update.” (Score: 2/10)

MTV’s Date or Diss — And we’re back … I don’t know if this sketch is making fun of a real MTV dating show, but it feels like a slightly heightened version of one of them, and it’s weirdly hilarious. Aidy Bryant steals it with some great Melissa McCarthyesque lines. “If you tickle me, I dump.” (Score: 7/10)

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Ice Cream Parlor — What the f**k? What. The. FUCK. (Score: 5,000,000/10)








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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • AudioSuede

    Okay, so I finally got around to watching this episode, and I had to come here and let you know that it's now official: You and I are really not on the same page, comedy-wise.

    That Angela Merkel sketch had me in TEARS! That impression was so absurd and goofy and flawlessly delivered, it reminded me of everything I love about Kate McKinnon.

    Meanwhile, that "What Does My Girl Say" video was abysmal. It had all the subtlety and nuance and observational prowess of Two and a Half Men on their worst day. I've seen better parodies on YouTube, and they didn't have the budget or the star/writing power that sketch has. I wanted so desperately to like it, but honestly, I didn't laugh even once. It was awkward, stupid, annoying, and lame. "Hey bros, you know when your girlfriend's totally annoying? Totally, right?!" - That sketch, in dialogue form, in the amount of time it takes to explain the entire joke of the sketch. Hated. It. So. Much.

    The rest of the episode was solid. I liked the Nasim Pedrad and Principal Frye sketches (which you hated) and loved the Cold Open and the MTV sketch (which you also enjoyed). Of course, the most positive sign of the season, besides the great talents to the women on the cast, has been the "Not Digital Shorts" that the Good Neighbor guys have been producing. This week was no exception.

  • dizzylucy

    Kerry was fantastic. I like her so much in general, I was really happy to see her do so well. And I pretty much agree with the ratings of each sketch, especially the Fox song, which made me laugh probably more than it should have.

    I loved the ice cream thing. That was one of those that when it's done, you wonder if you really just saw that, or just had some very weird dream/head trauma.

  • e jerry powell

    Why was Josie only in the bumper? She would have been so adorable in the Date or Diss sketch.

    Also, Donald Trump should be so lucky to have a pageant that entertaining.

  • mairimba

    That whole bit about The Wire? *DED*

  • e jerry powell

    So Nasim Pedra is the new Cheri Oteri?

    No lie, that is exactly the vibe I got from that sketch.

  • Rachel Page

    Kerry is such a beautiful woman. I can't get enough of her. Lawyer San Antonio

  • e jerry powell

    I am extremely glad that Dustin knows nothing of the horrors that are "Next" and "Exposed."

  • Daniel P

    The song parody almost made me turn the TV off and give the episode an instant F. But I'm glad I stuck around for Date or Diss

  • JoannaRobinson

    Aw I loved McKinnon's Merkel. Bang on about the rest, boss.

  • e jerry powell

    Isn't she adorable?

    I think it's fun seeing how good she is even away from Julie.Goldman.

    (Yes, this is the first SNL episode I've seen in about half a lifetime.)

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I don't know if I fastforwarded through that ice cream skit or what, but I missed it. That was bizarrely brilliant.

  • Pentadactyl

    "bizarrely brilliant"

    Great way of describing it. I was skeptical about the 5,000,000/10, but yeah... that was... well, what you said.

  • Even Stevens

    The Mitt Romney joke in the How's He Doing? sketch had me in tears, that whole sketch was just perfect

  • L.O.V.E.

    How's He Doing?, MTV, and Ice Cream Parlor were great. The Cold Open and Weekend Update were good. Everything else (including the song parody) should be shot and dumped in the East River.

  • Greed is Good

    That SNL opening with Washington playing dual roles was hilarious. She nailed them both.

  • mrsdalgliesh

    Not only does Kerry have comic timing, but she's actually *acting* in most of those sketches; doing type impressions (like the Spellman professor) that are as good or better than what we see from the best SNL cast members.

  • Skyler Durden

    ...Hey, don't tease bathrobe Beyonce and then not deliver! I was waiting for her to come out and the sketch suddenly ended.

    For the first time in modern history, an SNL sketch ended too early.

  • cgthegeek

    It's like they were overwhelmed by the potential for awesome.

  • My crush on Kerry Washington just keeps growing and growing. She's a goddamn delight is what she is.

    And that Shaq impression had me rolling, it was just ridiculous and perfect.

  • jjrox

    I thought the career week speaker was hilarious! Seriously the funniest skit of the night.

  • NynjaSquirrel

    And 'not available in your location'... /sigh

  • Washington has legitimate comic timing. Fun episode.Not sure I share your enthusiasm for the ice cream sketch, although I respect the risk. That's exactly the type of comedy SNL should experiment with in the 10-til-1 spot.

    There's two bad songs on Eminem's new album, and he performed them both last night. Very disappointing.

  • kilmo

    I highly enjoyed this episode. Who knew Kerry Washington was funny.

    Also, all MTV "dating" shows are actually like that. I thought the Angela Merkel part of Update was really delightful, the Barkley/Shaq part not so much.

    Ummm, should we be concern trolling Al Sharpton? He's scary skinny.

  • Al Sharpton wasn't wearing that suit Saturday night. The suit was wearing him.

  • aroorda

    If we're lucky he'll just keep shrinking and eventually disappear.

  • Dammit, you beat me to it.

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