Now that Season 44 of Saturday Night Live is in the books, I thought we’d take a look back at the best sketches of the year. It wasn’t very hard to narrow it down to 15 or 20 of the best sketches all year, because honestly, there were only about 15 to 20 great sketches this entire year. Narrowing those down to the final ten was much more difficult, and it also meant making some tough choices. I scuttled Bodega Bathroom, for instance, because John Mulaney’s episode already has two sketches on here. There were also several I cut because they were tied to a political event and thus won’t necessarily hold up over time (the Kavanaugh-inspired ’80s party with Adam Driver; Kate McKinnon’s fantastic Theresa May song with Sara Bareilles; a hilarious Midterm Ad; Aidy Bryant’s HuckaPM, the sleep-aid that helps Sarah Huckabee Sanders sleep at night; and Kate McKinnon’s terrific Elizabeth Warren impression on “Update”). The hardest cut was probably the Millennial Millions game show, where a couple of Millennials could win huge amounts of money if only they could listen to a Boomer speak for 30 seconds (Kenan is always such a terrific game show host). I am also not including Sandler’s tribute to Farley, because — as great as it was — it was repurposed from his stand-up special, 100% Fresh.
I will say this, though: Looking back over Season 44, there were only two great episodes (Emma Thompson and John Mulaney), an almost great one (James McAvoy), two really good ones (Matt Damon and Jason Momoa), a lot of wildly uneven episodes, and a few really bad ones (Halsey, Awkwafina, Liev Schrieber).
With that, however, here were the ten best sketches of the year.
10. The Actress — Emma Stone stars in a short film about a woman cast in a gay porn who has only one line, but endeavors to access her character’s entire backstory and give that line all that she’s got. Emma Stone is a terrific host, but she got dealt a bad hand with her episode this season, save for this unforgettable short.
9. Nawlins — A couple at dinner recount their experiences in New Orleans, and God Bless McAvoy, who could not keep a straight face in this sketch. I don’t blame him, either. It was a weirdly hysterical skit, although it’s that kind of sketch that has to hit you in the exact right way to be funny. This sketch is also why I think Heidi Gardner is the future of SNL.
8. Weezer — Three couples — new neighbors — get together for dinner, and two of the dinner-party guests (Matt Damon and Leslie Jones) get into a super intense, weirdly personal, knock-out, drag-down argument over whether Weezer is any good anymore.
7. Romano Tours — I’ve watched this one three or four times already, and it’s such a fun curveball coming from Adam Sandler because it’s a clever sketch about how a vacation won’t fundamentally change who you are.
6. Booty Kings — Chris Redd, Pete Davidson, Future, Lil Wayne and Keenan perform what is basically “Baby Got Back” for the #MeToo era. #RespectTheBooty
5. RBG — Kate McKinnon may be the biggest star of SNL but Chris Redd may be its future MVP, delivering another excellent rap song here (alongside Pete Davidson) about Ruth Bader Ginsberg. And this is why Chris Redd may be the next Andy Samberg.
4. Emma Thompson Monologue — How do you ensure the perfect Mother’s Day monologue? You invite Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to join you, and then the three of you decipher Mother-speak for Mother’s Day in one of the funniest and loveliest monologues of the seasons. I wanted to get at least one monologue in here, and this one narrowly beat out John Mulaney and Seth Meyers’ monologue with that fantastic Kanye story.
3. What’s that Name? — The first of two sketches from Mulaney’s show (and Mulaney and Pete Davidson discussing Eastwood’s “The Mule” on another episode nearly made the cut). Bill Hader is hosting and John Mulaney is a contestant completely incapable of naming some of the women in his life. It’s a fantastic skit, and not just the writing. The back-and-forth between Hader and Mulaney is sublime.
2. The Perfect Mother — Another in a series of hilariously spot-on looks at the realities of relationships, in this case mothering. Matt Damon also had a great one of these on the realities of Christmas that just missed the cut.
1. PBS Cinema Classics — The extended take on To Have and Have Not is all Kate McKinnon putting on a terrific, hilarious comedic performance, and John Mulaney somehow managing not to break. This is why McKinnon is one of the greatest cast members of all time.
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