Scarlett Johansson’s 5th SNL Hosting Gig is One of the Season’s Weakest Episodes

Written by Melissa Jouben and Mark Henely

Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC

Saturday Night Live – Scarlett Johannson, Lorde

The Host: Scarlet Johansson

Melissa: Welcome to the Five Timers club, Scarlett. They may be running out of ideas for her at this point, since the sketches were a little all over the place and her monologue was definitely all about Keenan, although I’d like to go on the record as saying I don’t have any problems with Keenan taking over anybody’s monologue, ever. I’m not sure I’ve been this critical of a host’s performance before, but Scarlett Johansson was kind of phoning it in, right?

I get the sense from this episode that it was either written in a rush, or a lot of what they worked on was scrapped and there was a last-minute scramble to put something else together. She didn’t deliver anything memorable or particularly good until that last sketch when she seemed to be having the only fun she had all night. But I will give her credit for taking the initiative to put that pug’s little hat back on when it took it off in the talking dog sketch. I think the only episode from this season that has been worse than last night’s episode was Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s bad when you’re watching an episode and thinking “no, THIS is my least favorite sketch” every single time one ends.

Mark: I’m not quite as down on last night’s show as Melissa is. I think the first half of the show “pre-Weekend Update” is pretty enjoyable. It isn’t until after Weekend Update that the show begins to drag. The whole second half is full of weak premises and weird missteps and maybe that is enough to make the first half of the show seem like it was less fun that it really was.

Melissa: Favorite Sketch – A Sketch For The Women

Melissa: This sketch definitely didn’t hit the nail on the head. And maybe I should be faulting it instead of praising it for seeming to miss the irony of a sketch on SNL about men taking a feminist narrative away from the women on the cast and crew – something SNL does a lot. Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett have only the best intentions, and knowing their work and their public personas outside of SNL, I’m aware that they were completely in on this joke and would possibly even be critical of the show itself for the ways in which it’s failed before. I think this is what saves the sketch for me, knowing that there are well-intentioned individuals laced in with this who either don’t know or don’t care when they make huge missteps in trying to tackle specific issues, instead of letting the more qualified writers take a crack at it.

The sketch begins with Aidy Bryant and Scarlett Johansson, as themselves, informing the audience that they participated in A Day Without Women and that Beck and Kyle wrote a sketch for them and the rest of the women. The entire sketch is Beck and Kyle discussing the issues women in this country face, without giving any lines to the women on the cast and speaking over them whenever they have an opportunity to talk. It’s funny only because just about any woman can relate to that situation and Beck and Kyle sell themselves as two guys who think they’re doing something good and progressive while unknowingly making things worse – something else just about any woman can relate to.

It’s got a big Intro To Women’s Issues vibe, and exists in juxtaposition to a sketch from several weeks back where a man is interviewed “live from the Friend Zone.” It’s trying to do something good, but seems oblivious to the fact that the show might do something to ruin that goodwill like, for example, having a man with a history of sexual assault allegations host the show in a re-run next week before having a man with a history of sexual assault allegations host the show when they return in April.

But still, I will give credit where credit is due: we have come a long way since the early days of the show when Gilda Radner would leave work crying because the host told her women couldn’t be funny, or female cast members were quitting before their first episode because the male writers were so violently misogynistic. SNL wants to do right by women and I want them to, too. Let’s hope they take these few weeks off to reconsider how to do that.

Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC

Mark’s Favorite – Zoo Pornographer

Mark: I think Zoo Pornographer is a pretty fun sketch. It’s a unique premise that is dumb in the right ways. It isn’t as politically ambitious as Melissa’s pick, but it is a good enough time, I think.

Least Favorite – Take Your Pick

Melissa: What did YOU think was the worst sketch of the night?

I don’t think there are any wrong answers. As we just established, even the sketch I deemed the best of the night is fair game here. I don’t think there were any clear winners in this episode and I think the whole night was ultimately pretty forgettable. If you missed the episode and you’re reading his review to figure out what sketches are worth looking up so you’re not out of the loop at work tomorrow, I have great news for you. You can skip this whole episode and your friends and coworkers will be none the wiser.

Mark: I think “Shud the Mermaid” the mermaid is pretty noticeably bad. It’s a recurring sketch about an ugly mermaid who is trying to have sex with a man. I don’t know, I just feel like a sketch should be about something more than “Isn’t funny when girls are ugly?”

Musical Guest – Lorde

Melissa: I’m actually a fan of Lorde, but I forgot that I was because it’s been so long since she’s been putting out new music. I’m definitely still a fan. I was really into her first performance and I felt the energy she was putting out. Her songwriting is really creative and her voice is just so unique. She draws you in and it’s hard to tune out. Her second song had a kind of somber vibe, and I’m not a Jack Antonoff fan so I wasn’t as into it, but I definitely think if you like Lorde, or you’re not sure about Lorde, watching her here and at least be able to say you gave her a try.

Mark: She put a lot of effort and emotion into her performances, but some of it came off weird (i.e. her dancing and her wedding dress costume).

Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.