Based on how immensely popular she was over the summer, it was a given that Miley Cyrus was going to be on Saturday Night Live again at some point. She has hosted previously back in 2011 and Lorne Michaels always likes to bring back previous hosts if they remain popular or did a good job before. In that episode she was just the host with The Strokes as the musical guest but last night she pulled double duty. As much as I wanted to determine how Cyrus would do before the episode started using her past stint as reference, the pop-star has changed almost completely since then. She was still in Hannah Montana mode at that point, hair and all. Now she is a twerking machine that makes headlines simply by doing her job. I’m sick of the amount of coverage she has been receiving as of late but people love gobbling up her craziness. So with a heavy roll of the eyes, I was fully prepared for a show with twerks, wrecking balls, comments on her changed image, and a possible reenactment of the VMAs performance.
An early favorite for me was easily the parody of “We Can’t Stop” simply titled “We Did Stop The Government” with Taran Killam as John Boehner and Cyrus as Michelle Bachmann. Political opinions aside, this skit was actually both hilarious and pretty clever. I’ll admit, I sighed heavily when it first started but I really came to enjoy it. A lot of the humor was physical comedy and Killam clearly knows how to make that work. Plus, there was a moment where Jay Pharaoh as Barack Obama was looking into the party wondering what is going on. It was just great. I will say that this did not hold up Cyrus’s early promise of no twerking though.
The opening segment was also great this week for a few reasons. For starters, it got through the VMA’s parody piece nice and early in a pretty clever manner. You see, apparently Cyrus’s performance brought about the end of the world, and past Cyrus played by Vanessa Bayer paid present Cyrus a visit to warn her. It didn’t last very long thankfully and it was genuinely funny. I especially enjoyed Killam in his brief moment as Robin Thicke and Bobby Moynihan as an upset man in a giant pink bear costume. We also never heard about the VMA’s or saw Cyrus in that awful outfit again tonight which was definitely welcomed.
I did also particularly enjoy the 50 Shades of Grey screen test bit too. Yeah it had no clear direction with a seemingly endless array of celebrity parodies being thrown at you, but so many worked so well that it made it all okay. Killam can do an outstanding Christoph Watlz impression, as can Kate McKinnon as Jane Lynch and Moynihan as Seth Rogan. This also gave a chance for the new cast members to get quick shots of impersonating celebrities to get their feet wet. I think I even saw Brooks Wheelan and John Milhiser too, which I enjoyed as both of them have received very little screen time compared to Noël Wells and Kyle Mooney.
The High School Cheerleaders getting abducted by an alien played by Kenan Thompson was a particularly bad spot of the night. It was all build up to a completely lacking punchline that felt poorly concocted. I laughed when Aidy Bryant first vanished in a beam of light, simply because it was so random, but nothing else had the same impact. Plus, Cyrus clearly stumbled on a line in the beginning, a crew member from the show was caught on camera for a solid 5+ seconds as he was helping someone adjust on set, and when Thompson “teleported” onto the set, Strong was accidentally in the shot and “teleported” in too. Obviously this made no sense and the skit looked incredibly sloppy.
Unfortunately the skit immediately following the Cheerleader bit didn’t improve the show by any means. You know those Morning Show promos where the hosts are really upbeat? This skit was called Morning Miami with Cyrus, Moynihan, and McKinnon as hosts and it showed what the hosts are really like off the air. There were so many ways this could have gone well with the hosts being irritable and/or violent when not on camera, but instead the trio sat there silent. Yes, the big joke of this skit was bored silence. Who ever wrote that one must have been off creatively.
Lastly, the skit with Bayer as a teacher trying to make poetry cool was less funny and more really, really annoying. All of the humor during these few minutes was supposed to be centered on Bayer sounding like a crazed seal (something Mike O’Brien even pointed out), which naturally felt like finger nails scratching on the blackboard of my mind. The poems were good though with Thompson’s “Where Is My Weed” standing out, but unfortunately too little time was spent with those and too much was on seal sounds.
As you can clearly see by my pre-show thoughts, I didn’t exactly have high expectations for this episode. In the end I was both impressed and disappointed by what I saw. To start out with, I really enjoyed the first half of the show. This episode started late due to College Football, but if anything that cut the opening segment and Cyrus’s monologue down significantly which was amazing. In fact, Cyrus didn’t even really have a monologue. She just addressed the VMA performance, made some promises about no twerking (which was broken), and then let the skits begin. Short and sweet! The skits following this had their ups and downs but were for the most part very clever and very funny. This was when the “We Did Stop The Government” started and I was buckling over with laughter.
Everything went downhill once Cyrus did her first performance with “Wrecking Ball.” The Weekend Update with Seth Meyers and Cecily Strong was great as always, but Pharaoh as Shannon Sharpe and Bayer as Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy were really bad. Jacob is probably my least favorable recurring character too as he really had no comedic payoff. Both of these characters sank the segment like a brick, and the following several skits did not get any better. This is when we got Cheerleader Abduction, Miami Morning, and Seal Teacher one after another. The last skit fronted by Mooney and his apprehension to have sex with Cyrus despite the perks ended the show on a funny note but by then it was too little too late. Overall, this episode did exceed my expectations by not focusing so much on Cyrus’s new image, but it wasn’t nearly as funny as last week.