SNL41 Wrap-Up EXTRAVAGANZA!

Overall Thoughts on the Season:

Season 41 continued the establishment of this new era of SNL, with more and more fresh writing style that relied heavily on original, one-off, solid sketch concepts that would dominate several episodes of the season, such as the Peter Dinklage episode, which is a prime example of the conceptual writing that this season experimented more and more with, in complete contrast to the dull & formulaic writing that plagued several seasons from the decade, as the chance-taking path that SNL took starting with season 40 proved to be successful in ushering a new, different era that continues to grow as the seasons pass by.

This season also serves as a time capsule in a way, due to a large portion of the cold opens covering the primaries, and succeeding mostly in that regard, aside from few lazy Trump cold opens with Darrell’s boring & dated take on the future president. These opens, mainly the ones that featured Kate’s Hillary Clinton & Larry David’s priceless Bernie Sanders stand out as among the best political takes that this era did till we reach few notable cold opens that will be sprinkled throughout the rest of the era, mainly the Kavanaugh Hearing & Dershowitz in Hell cold opens, as the political writing will suffer a major decline as season 42 progresses, with the show abandoning quick & sharp satire in favor of YouTube clicks & delusional pandering.

This was also the year that continued the rise of both Beck Bennett & Kate McKinnon, where both became more and more the leaders of the show, and the MVP’s of the cast. Beck began to slowly replace Taran at the start of the second half of the season, and slowly yet surely cemented himself as the everyday man in many sketches, and his impressions this year, mainly his priceless Jeb Bush, increased his profile in the cast. And he would continue as the main utility player & the strongest male performer on the cast, till he leaves after season 46. Kate continued her rise, in particular with her memorable Hillary Clinton impression throughout the season, especially when paired with Larry David’s Bernie Sanders. Vanessa Bayer, after two seasons where she was neglected & underused, rose again to prominence, in particular behind the Update desk & especially in short pretaped pieces, like the classics “Santa Baby” and “Totino’s Pizza Rolls/The X-Files”, amongst others. She almost averaged at least one great showcase on a weekly basis, as the season went along. And leaving next season while still on top.

Overall, season 41 was another great season for SNL, and the second consecutive great year for this young era. Aside from the Donald Trump flop, and the two weak Jonah Hill & Russell Crowe shows, the rest ranged between average to fantastic, especially in the second half of the season, where string of strong episodes dominated big chunks of that half, and were an absolute blast to watch and review. While I still believe that season 40 had the highest highs of this era, season 41 on its own was great and had great consistency, and much more confidence, which will lead to the upcoming season 42, the peak of this era & one of the highest highs that SNL achieved in many long years.

Hot Takes:

  • While both do not stand out among the roster of great shows this season, I think the Ronda Rousey and Drake episodes were both fine, and do not deserve the negative reputation around them. Drake’s actually starts out a bit shaky, but after a while it all becomes an overall decent effort from the show. And Rousey’s was mostly consistent and good, if not that memorable, so both definitely are better than their reputation, at least in my own personal view.

And Now Some Data:

Episode Averages:

Miley Cyrus – 5.5

Amy Schumer / The Weeknd – 6.6

Tracy Morgan / Demi Lovato – 8.2

Donald Trump / Sia – 4.2

Elizabeth Banks / Disclosure – 8.3

Matthew McConaughey / Adele -5.8

Ryan Gosling / Leon Bridges – 7.2

Chris Hemsworth / Chance the Rapper – 6.0

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler / Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – 7.1

Adam Driver / Chris Stapleton – 7.7

Ronda Rousey / Selena Gomez – 6.5

Larry David / The 1975 – 7.8

Melissa McCarthy / Kanye West – 6.6

Jonah Hill / Future – 5.0

Ariana Grande – 6.3

Peter Dinklage / Gwen Stefani – 8.3

Russell Crowe / Margo Price – 5.5

Julia Louis-Dreyfus / Nick Jonas – 7.5

Brie Larson / Alicia Keys – 6.6

Drake – 6.1

Fred Armisen / Courtney Barnett – 7.6

Best Episode: Elizabeth Banks & Peter Dinklage – 8.3 (tie) (Runner-up: Tracy Morgan – 8.2)
Worst Episode: Donald Trump – 4.2 (Runner-up: Jonah Hill – 5.0)
Season Average: 6.7

And Now Some Data:

Highest-Rated Sketches:

5 Stars:

Guns (Amy Schumer)

Family Feud (Tracy Morgan)

Mitchell’s Fake Cocaine (Tracy Morgan)

First Got Horny 2 U (Elizabeth Banks)

Theater Showcase (Elizabeth Banks)

Uber for Jen (Elizabeth Banks)

A Thanksgiving Miracle (Matthew McConaughey)

Close Encounter (Ryan Gosling)

Santa Baby (Ryan Gosling)

CFT: Cool (Ryan Gosling)

Meet Your Second Wife! (Tina Fey and Amy Poehler)

Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base (Adam Driver)

FBI Simulator (Larry David)

Bern Your Enthusiasm (Larry David)

Totino’s Pizza Rolls / The X-Files (Larry David)

Space Pants (Peter Dinklage)

Undersea Hotel (Peter Dinklage)

Farewell, Mr. Bunting (Fred Armisen)

4.5 Stars:

Weekend Update (Amy Schumer)

Democratic Presidential Debate (Tracy Morgan)

The Standoff (Tracy Morgan)

Yo! Where Jackie Chan at Right Now? (Tracy Morgan)

CFT: Not Scared (Tracy Morgan)

Walk-on Role (Elizabeth Banks)

Weekend Update (Matthew McConaughey)

CFT: Roast (Chris Hemsworth)

CFT: Bieber Concert (Tina Fey and Amy Poehler)

Golden Globes (Adam Driver)

Love Struck (Ronda Rousey)

Monologue (Larry David)

The Day Beyoncé Turned Black (Melissa McCarthy)

HBO First Look – Game of Thrones Season 6 (Peter Dinklage)

Corporate Magic Show (Peter Dinklage)

Pogie Pepperoni’s (Russell Crowe)

Oprah Winfrey: A Life of Love (Russell Crowe)

Cinema Classics (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)

Mercedes AA Class (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)

Hillary & Bernie (Fred Armisen)

Monologue (Fred Armisen)

Finest Girl (Fred Armisen)

4 Stars:

Monologue (Miley Cyrus)

Bar Talk (Miley Cyrus)

Miley Wedding Tape (Miley Cyrus)

Brian Fellow’s Safari Planet (Tracy Morgan)

Weekend Update (Tracy Morgan)

Astronaut Jones (Tracy Morgan)

Mr. Crocker (Donald Trump)

Monologue (Elizabeth Banks)

Arons List (Elizabeth Banks)

Black Jeopardy! (Elizabeth Banks)

Weekend Update (Elizabeth Banks)

Settl (Ryan Gosling)

Weekend Update (Ryan Gosling)

Hometown Bar (Ryan Gosling)

Nespresso (Ryan Gosling)

Presidential Address (Chris Hemsworth)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Action Figures (Chris Hemsworth)

Time to Bleed (Chris Hemsworth)

Republican Presidential Debate (Tina Fey and Amy Poehler)

A Hillary Christmas (Tina Fey and Amy Poehler)

Hoverboards (Tina Fey and Amy Poehler)

Tina & Amy’s Dope Squad (Tina Fey and Amy Poehler)

CFT: Christmas at Nana’s (Tina Fey and Amy Poehler)

Football Night America (Adam Driver)

America’s Funniest Cats (Adam Driver)

Weekend Update (Adam Driver)

Awareness Seminar (Adam Driver)

Monologue (Ronda Rousey)

Screen Guild Awards (Ronda Rousey)

Weekend Update (Ronda Rousey)

Last Call (Larry David)

Movie Night (Melissa McCarthy)

Kyle vs. Kanye (Melissa McCarthy)

CFT: Supermarket Spree (Melissa McCarthy)

Weekend Update (Jonah Hill)

Inside SoCal (Jonah Hill)

Hillary for America (Ariana Grande)

Weekend Update (Ariana Grande)

At This Hour (Peter Dinklage)

Naked and Afraid: Celebrity Edition (Peter Dinklage)

Glory Hole (Peter Dinklage)

Weekend Update (Peter Dinklage)

Vacation Nightmares (Peter Dinklage)

Shanice Goodwin: Ninja (Russell Crowe)

Democratic Presidential Debate (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)

Heroin AM (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)

Meet N’ Match (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)

God Is a Boob Man (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)

President Barbie (Brie Larson)

Baby Shower (Brie Larson)

Weekend Update (Drake)

Drake’s Beef (Drake)

Weekend Update (Fred Armisen)

Escape Pod (Fred Armisen)

Theater Showcase (Fred Armisen)

The Harkin Brothers (Fred Armisen)

Lowest-Rated Sketches:

2 Stars:

A Message from Donald & Melania Trump (Miley Cyrus)

American Voices (Miley Cyrus)

Ford’s Theatre (Amy Schumer)

Hands-free Selfie Stick! (Amy Schumer)

The Loveliest Kingdom (Tracy Morgan)

Monologue (Matthew McConaughey)

Blues Shack (Matthew McConaughey)

Should You Chime in on This? (Matthew McConaughey)

Right Side of the Bed with Gracelynn and Cory (Matthew McConaughey)

A Christmas Message from Donald & Melania Trump (Ryan Gosling)

Super Crew (Ronda Rousey)

Monologue (Jonah Hill)

Racists for Trump (Jonah Hill)

Tidal (Ariana Grande)

The Sound of Music (Ariana Grande)

Politics Nation (Russell Crowe)

100 Days in the Jungle (Russell Crowe)

Near-Death Experience (Brie Larson)

CFT: Oregon Trail (Brie Larson)

Trump Tower (Drake)

Sexy Kinda Evening with Dennis Walls & The Cookies (Drake)

Expedition (Fred Armisen)

1.5 Stars:

50’s Dance (Miley Cyrus)

The Millennials (Miley Cyrus)

Katz’ Delicatessen (Miley Cyrus)

Hotline Bling (Donald Trump)

CFT: Donald Trump’s Hair (Donald Trump)

Town Hall Meeting (Matthew McConaughey)

Christmas Sing-a-long (Chris Hemsworth)

Pirate Ship (Chris Hemsworth)

Hunk Junction (Chris Hemsworth)

Movie Set (Tina Fey and Amy Poehler)

Trump Rally (Ronda Rousey)

Pick-Up Artist (Melissa McCarthy)

Murder Mystery (Jonah Hill)

CFT: Cinema Channel (Ariana Grande)

Match Finders (Russell Crowe)

CFT: Bad News Bears (Russell Crowe)

New Girlfriend (Fred Armisen)

1 Star:

Monologue (Donald Trump)

White House 2018 (Donald Trump)

Live Tweeting (Donald Trump)

Rock Band (Donald Trump)

Trump 2016 (Donald Trump)

Santa and His Magical Elves (Ryan Gosling)

The Champ (Jonah Hill)

Silver Star Catering (Jonah Hill)

CFT: New Studio (Ariana Grande)

Monologue (Russell Crowe)

Henry VIII: The Experience (Russell Crowe)

Final Thoughts:-

  • And thus ends four seasons of coverage on this blog. Thanks to all the readers & commenters here for continuing to support this blog, and thanks to Jesse Nathan for providing data & keeping in check the highest & lowest-rated sketches. And for his wonderful musical performances, for the second season in a row, that added a unique, fun, and sense of completion to my reviews, and proved to be an enjoyable part to read. It honestly felt like yesterday when I decided to launch this blog and review SNL, and with now four seasons being complete and 90+ posts on this blog, I cannot honestly believe how far we’ve all come, so thank you all for the support once more.

Coming Soon:-

  • A special essay covering the revival of The Kids in the Hall coming soon, so stay tuned!

5 Replies to “SNL41 Wrap-Up EXTRAVAGANZA!”

  1. I’m excited to hear about your thoughts on the new KITH! As a HUGE fan (it’s up there with SNL for me), I was pleasantly surprised by the new season. There were some sketches that were as good as some of their classic material. I’d also love to hear your opinions on their older episodes one day too 🙂

  2. Great write-up as always! My only real beefs:

    – Lumping in the Jonah Hill episode with Trump and Crowe is unfair. Jonah’s was typically blah, but Trump’s and Crowe’s were true SNL low points that shouldn’t even register alongside a forgettable, “who cares?” episode like Jonah’s.

    I do understand that these ratings ultimately stem from the episodes as a whole, and this all comes down to Blood’s particular feelings toward ALL the segments from each one. But Trump was just atrocious – I don’t think a single host-featuring sketch from that one deserves more than *. That’s not a political thing – he’s just THAT bad in his limp attempts at comedy/showmanship. I’ve seen most of the trainwreck episodes from the show’s history – Lasser, Zappa, Deion Sanders, Reiser, Seagal (the worst I’d ever seen prior to Trump) – and even all of those offered more to the viewer than Trump’s episode.

    – Beck as the MVP or premier male cast member of any era – I just can’t get on board with this on any level, given his clear limitations. Yes, he took on a lot more everyman roles around this point, but that seemed more out of necessity than anything, what with Taran fading away. Beck was frat-boy good-looking, so he fit visually into slice-of-life pieces, but he long struggled with roles that forced him to be a real person or simply blend into a sketch without trying to take it over. Most of the time he was pressed into utility work, I wound up rolling my eyes and wishing Taran was still around.

    When I think about MVPs and utility superstars, I’m thinking about versatile folks like Hartman, Sudeikis, and even Taran himself. None of those guys struggled to keep themselves in check from the sideline. None of them sought to upstage the main joke for something kewl they dreamed up with Kyle that morning. None of them were trying to brand their utility work with voices and digressions. Sadly, Beck spent the first several years of his tenure checking all those boxes.

    And in a cast alongside Bobby (and, later, the wonderful and underappreciated Alex), calling Beck the male MVP just doesn’t work for me. Beck had a niche and DID have value, but leading the cast wasn’t it IMO.

    I’m on board with most of the sketch ratings themselves, with few exceptions. I’ll shut up about Silver Star Catering… except to say that, man oh man, we’re going to call that WORSE than Donald Fucking Trump dancing his way through a Drake parody? Worse than Miley’s awful 50s dance thing?

    I also don’t get the hatred aimed at Kenan’s Acting Coach installments, as I personally LOVE them. I’m on an island there, though.

    All in all, a great season of reviews and another killer recap! And I’m on pins and needles for your Kids in the Hall piece.

  3. Excited for more reviews and I just started watching the new Kids In The Hall and love it so I’m so ready for those reviews will you be doing your reviews the same way you do SNL.

  4. You’re most certainly welcome, man. It’s been very fun following along with these reviews and doing everything you mentioned at the end. This truly is a strong season that has some very high highs like this era in general does. I can’t wait for when we reach Season 42, as that season holds a ton of nostalgia for me, with it being the first SNL season I watched live as it aired.

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