Everyone's interest was peaked when they heard Miley Cyrus, the most talked about and controversial personality in Hollywood over the last few months, would be joining the exclusive ranks of being host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live. Pulling this double duty only happened three times last season (Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, and Justin Timberlake), and it's an honor not to be taken likely. She had hosted once before in 2011, but did not get to sing. Was someone like Miley Cyrus worthy of such an honor? Or had she received this job because of her notoriety instead of her talent? Either way, her hosting gig became the most buzzed-about episode since JT joined the "5-Timers Club" midway through last season. All I can say is she definitely delivered.
We open on a post-apocalyptic America 50 years from now as two survivors reminisce about what caused the destruction of America. Although some blame in on the current government shutdown, it turns out it all started at the 2013 VMA's with Miley Cyrus's controversial performance (of course). Nothing says SNL quite like hitting a controversy head on and making fun of it. After a visit from her impersonator, Miley is also encountered by several other scary celebrity impressions. Rarely does the host show up in the cold opening, but this was a perfect way to start a show with as much buzz as this one. It definitely got the show off on a great foot.
Since the cold opening spent the whole time making fun of its host, there wasn't much left for the monologue. This led to one of the shortest monologues in recent memory. Outside of seeing Bobby Moynihan hanging from a wrecking ball in his underwear, there really wasn't worth mentioning. OK, fair enough, there wasn't anything worth mentioning.
When done right, Weekend Update can provide a jump start for the show after the first musical performance. This definitely served that purpose. Cecily Strong was definitely feeling more comfortable at the Update desk in her second show, and it also involved three solid gold guest bits provided by Kate McKinnon, Jay Pharoah, and Vanessa Beyer. McKinnon's soccer mom obsessed with GTA Five was spot on, as much of her bits have become. She has quickly grown on me as one of the best parts of any episode. Also, whenever Pharoah is allowed to do an impression on the show, it is must-see TV. This time, it came at the expense of NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe. It was all wrapped up by Bar-Mitzvah Jacob, one of the great characters from last season. A classic Update it was!
I couldn't decide which sketch was my favorite so I am claiming a tie. First, we have screen tests for the leads in the new 50 Shade of Grey movie, which is always great because it allows the cast to show off their many faces and impressions. The best of the group being Christoph Waltz and Jane Lynch.
The second sketch is one of the most bizarre sketches you will ever see, but I just loved it. The government shutdown had to be addressed somehow, but how do do that with Miley Cyrus hosting? I want to know whose idea it was to make Miley into a sexy Michele Bachmann opposite Taran Killam's scantily clad John Boehner as they re-write Miley's hit into a song called "We Did Stop (The Government)." This is so wrong in so many ways, but I can't help but love it. Best moment of the sketch is Obama looking in the window.
There were really only two sketches that didn't really work, the worst of these being a cheer squad attacked by aliens. Yes, a cheer squad attacked by aliens. They did that. I don't really think I need to explain anymore than that. Try to enjoy. Even though the sketch didn't really work, Taran Killam once again proved that he is the funniest guy in the cast right now.
Dark Horse Sketch
There were two solid sketches worth mentioning after the midnight hour. My favorite of them was a sketch of a Miami morning show filming their promos for each show of the week. They show just how fake those morning hosts can be. If you are wondering why she keeps asking for full names, wait for the payoff at the end.
The second sketch worth mentioning is more for the format than anything. Everyone was wondering what the new cast members would bring to the table. They decided to give something new a try with the last sketch of the night, and it was actually pretty funny. This sketch was not live and looked more like something you would see on YouTube, which makes sense since many of the new cast members were discovered thanks to YouTube. It wasn't a great sketch, but it has the potential to develop into something great that could end up finally being what the show needed to replace the Lonely Island gang's creativity and originality.
I loved this episode. I was expecting to hate it with everything Miley Cyrus had been known for over the last month or so, but it hit on almost every level. Miley also showed that she can be self-deprecating, but also showed that she is who she is and doesn't really care what other people think. The new cast members are starting to get comfortable, and the show is starting to find its new stride. The have some great new talent that we just have to get to know. This was a great start.