SNL43 Wrap-Up Extravaganza!

Overall Thoughts on the Season:

Season 43 was overall a little hard to pin down, while the quality, generally speaking, was still pretty good, a sense of fatigue & dullness started to show up during the 2nd half of the season, specifically with the Jessica Chastain episode, where the general malaise from world events started to manifest itself upon the show. Yet, from the season premiere till the Sam Rockwell episode (ignoring the rough Christmas show with Kevin Hart), the episodes ranged from good to great, with many standout, memorable segments dominating several shows. It was only starting with the aforementioned Jessica Chastain episode that the fatigue & poor writing supervision with Che & Jost now taking over as headwriters showed itself. Several episode had dullness to them, fatigue, and a sense of lack of effort from both the writers & performers. The unique, silly, and solid sketch concepts that dominated this era became less and less prevalent as that second half continued (excluding the experimental feel of the Mulaney & Brown shows), and more and more pandering forms of humor started to show up (which will hit a nadir with season 44). Still, the good outweighs the bad in most of the season, and season 43 as a whole was quite rewarding to both watch and review at the end, even when it took all the wrong lessons from the standout success of season 42 before it, with it doubling on its preachy discourse & excessive celebrity cameos.

This season also had a unique focus on topical matters, such as “woke” culture & especially addressing the #MeToo movement. The latter was strongly addressed in pieces such as “Sexual Harassment Charlie”, “Welcome to Hell”, and “The Grabbies”. These pieces, as well as several others, brought a good deal of attention to a different aspect of SNL, much like some of the topical pieces from 42, and made the show, once again, a one to be discussed outside of its political pieces. These topical pieces stand out as major highlights from the season to me, and amongst the first things that come to my mind when I think of this season, and now that I reviewed it in full, I still stand corrected by my original mental image of this season.

One of the biggest positives from this season was the addition of the newbies, as Heidi, Chris, and sadly to a lesser extent, Luke Null, all played a part in bringing a sense of freshness & new exciting feel to the show, especially during the second half of the season, where Chris & Heidi were heavily utilized, and even when his talents were sadly squandered, Luke Null brought solid sketch concepts & unique energy, even in his lesser roles, which makes it utterly baffling to me how his season turned out at the end for him. Heidi excelled in pieces behind the Update desk, with two appearances each of her Angel & Bailey Gismert characters. Her strong dramatic acting skills were also showcased with both characters & throughout the season, especially in “Reunion” and “Horns”. Chris, on the other hand, absolutely thrived in pretaped material, such as “Come Back Barack”, “Rap History”, and especially the outstanding “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”. He also added a much-needed black perspective into the musical shorts that were mostly dominated by the white performers in the cast, and a sense of urban humor that the show would need as well. Luke, sadly didn’t get to do much, but he showed natural likability and command of the stage, and with three solid showcases all season long, as in his role in the clever “Late for Class”, the absurdist “Horns”, and finally, the fun & infectious “Wedding Toast”. He would’ve added a unique flavor to the show had he been used well, but alas.

All in all, here we come to conclude my final thoughts on this season, with its highs and lows, some of the highs were quite spectacular, such as “Diner Lobster” & “Switcheroo” both were outstanding and amongst the absolute best of this era & SNL history. Some others, such as the very silly “Google Talks”, “Spelling Bee”, and “Za” stand as personal favorites of mine, and as pieces that focus on humor that I adore (which sadly the show will focus less on for large portions of the upcoming season, till returning to it with its second half & season 45 in general). And some others, like “The Race” & “Restaurant Complaint” give me that warm & happy feel each time I think of them, as it feels rare to see pieces with heart in them, not just in writing & execution, but within the core itself. Season 43, in general, will not sadly escape the shadow of the seasons its sandwiched between, but when the time comes, it will hopefully get its just due in general, with hidden gems, fun moments, and cast standouts being given their just due at the end.

Hot Takes:

  • The Kevin Hart episode, while definitely rough as a whole, is nowhere near “worst episode ever” levels of bad like many claim. There are several decent to solid highlights in that first half before the episode completely dies post-Update.
  • While I have always really disliked the Tina Fey-hosted finale, I was surprised to see that it was even worse than I remember, in particular how absolutely DIRE that first half of the show.
  • The second half of season 43 being a little more draining to review as it went along, especially the shows from April-May. I guess how increasingly dull the sketch concepts were becoming AND the heavier focus on pandering discourse and heavier political focus made these a chore to sit through.

And Now Some Data:

Episode Averages:

Ryan Gosling / Jay-Z – 6.8

Gal Gadot / Sam Smith – 6.3

Kumail Nanjiani / P!nk – 7.0

Larry David / Miley Cyrus – 7.0

Tiffany Haddish / Taylor Swift – 7.2

Chance the Rapper / Eminem – 7.1

Saoirse Ronan / U2 – 7.3

James Franco / SZA – 7.6

Kevin Hart / Foo Fighters – 4.9

Sam Rockwell / Halsey – 6.9

Jessica Chastain / Troye Sivan – 6.0

Will Ferrell / Chris Stapleton – 6.1

Natalie Portman / Dua Lipa – 5.6

Charles Barkley / Migos – 6.5

Sterling K. Brown / James Bay – 6.5

Bill Hader / Arcade Fire – 5.1

Chadwick Boseman / Cardi B – 6.2

John Mulaney / Jack White – 7.0

Donald Glover / Childish Gambino – 5.9

Any Schumer / Kacey Musgraves – 6.0

Tina Fey / Nicki Minaj – 4.8

Best Episode: James Franco – 7.6 (Runner-up: Saoirse Ronan – 7.3)
Worst Episode: Tina Fey – 4.8 (Runner-up: Kevin Hart – 4.9)
Season Average: 6.4

Highest-Rated Sketches:

5 Stars:

Papyrus (Ryan Gosling)

Kellywise (Kumail Nanjiani)

CFT: Climate Change (Kumail Nanjiani)

The Dolphin Who Learned to Speak (Tiffany Haddish)

Welcome to Hell (Saoirse Ronan)

The Race (Saoirse Ronan)

Spelling Bee (James Franco)

My Drunk Boyfriend (Sam Rockwell)

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Jessica Chastain)

Google Talks (Jessica Chastain)

CFT: My Little Step Children (Natalie Portman)

Family Dinner (Sterling K. Brown)

Undercover Office Potty (Bill Hader)

Restaurant Complaint (Chadwick Boseman)

Diner Lobster (John Mulaney)

Switcheroo (John Mulaney)

4.5 Stars:

Henrietta & the Fugitive (Ryan Gosling)

First Date (Gal Gadot)

Monologue (Kumail Nanjiani)

Bank Breakers (Kumail Nanjiani)

Customer Service (Kumail Nanjiani)

Monologue (Larry David)

Monologue (Tiffany Haddish)

Tournament Fighter (Tiffany Haddish)

Beck and Kyle (Tiffany Haddish)

Come Back Barack (Chance the Rapper)

Family Feud: Harvey Family Thanksgiving (Chance the Rapper)

Floribama Shore (Saoirse Ronan)

Za (James Franco)

The Science Room (Sam Rockwell)

Chantix (Sam Rockwell)

Monologue (Natalie Portman)

Rock or Rap (Sterling K. Brown)

Dying Mrs. Gomez (Sterling K. Brown)

Black Jeopardy! (Chadwick Boseman)

The Game of Life: DACA Edition (Chadwick Boseman)

Monologue (John Mulaney)

Raz P. Berry (Donald Glover)

4 Stars:

The Fliplets (Ryan Gosling)

Weekend Update (Ryan Gosling)

Italian Restaurant (Ryan Gosling)

CFT: The Last Fry (Gal Gadot)

Women’s Round Table (Kumail Nanjiani)

Ad Council Awards Dinner (Larry David)

Fresh Takes (Larry David)

Democratic National Committee (Tiffany Haddish)

Weekend Update (Tiffany Haddish)

Wayne Manor (Chance the Rapper)

Weekend Update (Chance the Rapper)

MSG (Chance the Rapper)

Late for Class (Saoirse Ronan)

Sexual Harassment Charlie (James Franco)

Scrudge (James Franco)

Christmas Charity (James Franco)

CFT: New Year’s Kiss (Kevin Hart)

Tucci Gang (Sam Rockwell)

Marcus Comes to Dinner (Sam Rockwell)

George W. Bush Returns (Will Ferrell)

Weekend Update (Will Ferrell)

Office Breakdown (Will Ferrell)

Chucky Lee Byrd: Poet of Teen Love (Will Ferrell)

Weekend Update (Natalie Portman)

Hump or Dump (Charles Barkley)

Construction Workers (Charles Barkley)

Last Call (Charles Barkley)

Weekend Update (Bill Hader)

CFT: St. Patrick’s Day (Bill Hader)

Drag Brunch (John Mulaney)

CFT: Wedding Toast (John Mulaney)

CFT: Cleveland Cavs Promo (Donald Glover)

Monologue (Amy Schumer)

The Day You Were Born (Amy Schumer)

James Madison High School Graduation (Amy Schumer)

Talent Show (Tina Fey)

Chicago Improv (Tina Fey)

Lowest-Rated Sketches:

2 Stars:

Another Close Encounter (Ryan Gosling)

Safelite AutoGlass (Gal Gadot)

Trucker Rally (Kumail Nanjiani)

Nursing Home (Kumail Nanjiani)

Paul Manafort’s Apartment (Larry David)

Vice President’s Office (Tiffany Haddish)

The Mueller Files (Chance the Rapper)

Spirits of Trump’s Past (Saoirse Ronan)

Captain Shadow and The Cardinal (Kevin Hart)

Morning Joe (Sam Rockwell)

What Even Matters Anymore (Jessica Chastain)

Weekend Update (Jessica Chastain)

Doctor’s Office (Jessica Chastain)

Fighter Pilots (Will Ferrell)

Safety Rap (Will Ferrell)

Revolutionary War (Natalie Portman)

First Ladies (Natalie Portman)

Kiss Me I’m Irish (Bill Hader)

Outnumbered (Chadwick Boseman)

Nike Pro-Chiller Leggings (Chadwick Boseman)

Wild Wild Country (John Mulaney)

Handmaids in the City (Amy Schumer)

Mean Girls Musical (Tina Fey)

1.5 Stars:

The Chaos President (Ryan Gosling)

Office Halloween Party (Kumail Nanjiani)

A Special Christmas Message from the White House (Kevin Hart)

Nativity Play (Kevin Hart)

Active Jack (Kevin Hart)

Commercial Shoot (Will Ferrell)

Reality Stars (Will Ferrell)

Fox and Friends (Natalie Portman)

Alien Lover (Natalie Portman)

Anderson Cooper 360 (Bill Hader)

The Californians (Bill Hader)

Medical Breakthrough (Chadwick Boseman)

Morning Joe (Tina Fey)

What I Did for Trump (Tina Fey)

1 Star:

Christmas Party (Kevin Hart)

Captain Hook (Sam Rockwell)

Movie Set (Jessica Chastain)

The Bachelor Live (Sterling K. Brown)

Sacred Rock (Bill Hader)

CBC Report (Bill Hader)

Warehouse Fire (Chadwick Boseman)

Mueller & Cohen (John Mulaney)

Michael Cohen Wiretap (Donald Glover)

Gospel Brunch (Amy Schumer)

Holsten’s Restaurant (Tina Fey)

Monologue (Tina Fey)

Final Thoughts:-

  • Once again, thanks to Jesse Nathan for his wonderful musical performance reviews & for generously calculating the highest & lowest-rated sketches throughout the season, as well as the season’s averages as a whole. And to all the readers & commenters here & back in Twitter, thanks for all the support, especially with how surprisingly popular my summer reviews have been. It’s all thanks to you, and till our next time, farewell!

Coming Soon:-

  • I’ll be doing a series of vintage reviews after a good break, and maybe if I have enough time & energy, I’ll do season 44 before the next SNL season starts airing.

2 Replies to “SNL43 Wrap-Up Extravaganza!”

  1. Good job on this overall season. It’s been pretty fun reading your thoughts on every episode as you progressed. Yeah, the second half is pretty disappointing given how enjoyable the first half is, but this season as a whole isn’t too bad, and I’m kinda fond of the time period this aired in, even 2018. I pretty much agree with most of what you said here. It’ll be interesting to hear your thoughts on S44 and the other vintage episodes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s