Review: Saturday Night Live with Emma Stone & Shawn Mendes

Written by: Melissa Jouben and Mark Henely

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Saturday Night Live with Host Emma Stone & Musical Guest Shawn Mendes

The Host – Emma Stone

Melissa: I like Emma Stone. She’s alright. She’s a great dramatic actress when she gets the opportunity and she takes good comedic roles. I’ve never been disappointed with Emma Stone. That said, I’m never very excited to see her. I’m not sure why. She’s a perfectly capable actress, she’s got a great personality. She’s always game for being silly. She’s done a good job as host her first two times on the show, and this episode was good too. Like I said, Stone is always willing to be silly and make herself look like a dork for the sake of the scene. Her monologue was a different choice than what I was expecting (thank God they didn’t make her sing a song), and I was satisfied with the way it went down. Plus, I had no idea she went to high school with Aidy Bryant. That’s a cool fun fact! There weren’t really any sketches in this episode that were total duds or that Stone fell short in, but I wasn’t blown away by much this week. I think she did an admirable job as host, as usual.

Mark: Season 42 has been a strong season so far because we haven’t had an incompetent host yet. Every host has had a lot of acting experience and I think it has paid off because there hasn’t been an episode that was an unmitigated disaster yet (like last year’s ill-advised Donald Trump episode). Sure, some episodes aren’t super memorable (I’m looking at you, Cumberbatch), but every host has been game and each one has played an active role in his or her episode. Emma Stone was not an exception. She showed up ready to go and strong showing.

Favorite Sketch – Wells For Boys

Melissa: I am going to go ahead and assume that this sketch was written by Julio Torres. If you were familiar with his body of work, you’d immediately understand why, and you’d know that I’m right to do so. It seems like Torres is operating as a one-man Lonely Island and putting out a lot of SNL’s pre-recorded video content this season, and I could not be more pleased with what we’ve seen from him so far and continue to see.  “Wells for Boys” is a commercial for a new line of Fischer Price toys for sensitive boys, the main offering being a toy plastic well for sensitive boys to sit next to, stare at their reflection, whisper their secrets into, or just sit at while waiting to grow up. The commercial is executed beautifully from the way the mother interacts with her sensitive little boy, the child they chose to play the boy in the commercial, down to the bright pastel blue-green color of the well.  Aside from being a very well done toy commercial parody, it’s also a funny way of bringing attention to the needs of sensitive little boys we all know or knew, but might not have been able to understand on their level. Cecily Strong’s voiceover at the end puts it best:  “Don’t just give him a Barbie. I mean, it is like that, but that’s just part of it.”

Mark: I was unsure of what sketch I thought was the best of the night until I saw this one and I knew it had to be this one. It’s just so unique in terms of its perspective. It’s the kind of perspective that one rarely sees on TV in general, let alone SNL. This is the kind of sketch that I wanted to start showing to my friends and family before it was even over. This is must watch material.

Worst Sketch – High School Theatre Show

Melissa: I actually had a harder time deciding which sketch I’d recommend viewers skip, because even the ones I didn’t like as much tried something interesting or had a lot of great dialogue that made it worth at least one viewing. The reason I’d give the distinction of worst sketch to “High School Theatre Show” is because this recurring sketch failed to accomplish anything that it didn’t accomplish the first time around. The conceit is that a bunch of high school theatre dorks  (you know, the kind that wear all black and consider themselves “artists”) put together a self-written show full of political and social commentary. They perform several short scenes about topics such as the Standing Rock protests, Black Lives Matter, and AIDS, all of which are terribly misguided and underinformed. Between each scene, parents in the audience shit talk the kids and their terrible performances. The kids are funny, and the stuff they say can be shocking for all the wrong reasons, like Aidy Bryant’s character wishing that everyone in the world could get AIDS because by her logic, having and living with AIDS makes you a stronger – or at least a more interesting – person. But while the sketch is enjoyable, and it’s fun to sometimes roll your ideas at the idea of people who are trying and failing to truly understand the current political climate, the sketch is just a rehash of what it’s done in the past and for that reason, I didn’t walk away considering this a big must-see.

Mark: I think the worst sketch of the night is either “Posters”, a sketch where Pete Davidson’s posters come alive and teach him about Math, or “Cleaning Crew”, a sketch where the cleaning ladies at the office perform Christmas Carols about Santa raping them. However, both of those sketches have qualities that I think is sort of “must watch” material, so I would agree that the most skippable is “High School Theater.” In “Posters” Emma Stone plays a hot poster girl and I think that character alone makes the sketch watchable because the character and her performance is so bizarre, yet still somehow on point. I also think there is something to the “Cleaning Crew” singing about being raped by Santa Claus because there are actually Christmas Carols (I’m looking at you, “Baby, it’s Cold Outside) that are about rape.

Musical Guest – Shawn Mendes

Mark: Shawn Mendes is only 18 years old. It’s impressive that a kid that young could be such a talented performer. I hate it.

Melissa: A couple times in his second performance, I thought he was a Jonas brother because I wasn’t paying attention and I forgot what his name was. I’ve never heard of Mendes before being announces as the musical guest for this episode. I’m not really sure what his fan base or his target demographic could be, but it’s certainly not me. And although I gave it a try, and I really didn’t hate it, it was hard to get invested. I’m finding myself less and less interested in listening to some of the acts SNL pulls for musical guest when I have no prior knowledge of them or their music, but I’m starting to think that might be because I’m getting older, and their musical guest choices are usually skewed towards younger demographics. It’s an interesting realization to make, especially when I remember that as a kid I would sometimes get more excited about the musical guest than the host, who would often be some old character actor I’d never heard of before. Anyway, WWE superstar John Cena is hosting SNL next week with musical guest Maren Morris and as an adult, I couldn’t be more excited.

Mark: I started watching wrestling 14 years ago, the week after John Cena debuted on WWE Smackdown, so I will have a lot to say about this episode and John Cena in general. I am very excited.

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