Overall Thoughts on the Season:
Season 48 was certainly a unique one. On one hand, it was one of the many transitions/new era seasons in SNL’s history, with so many big names departing the show and others replacing/trying to fill their places, as well as many writers trying different approaches of humor as the season went along. And, on the other hand, season 48 is a season that would be seen as one of those big “What If?” seasons due to it abruptly ending before the May run of shows and us not knowing, as of the writing of this post that is, who is leaving and who is staying from the longer-tenured cast members. Other than that, season 48 seemed to experiment, at least during the first several months, till the end of the first run of shows in the second half, with its writing style and sketch concepts, alongside hackier and hackier attempts at going viral, which will sadly be what a lot of the more disappointed fans would remember from said season. I do not, however, see the season as either totally experimental/rebuilding or totally a failure to launch season. But rather, somewhere in between, especially the last two runs before the strike, which sadly started to paint the show in a very bleak direction moving forward.
I feel the first dozen episodes of the season, especially starting with the Harlow episode and forward, painted to me an overall very promising, somewhat-experimental new path for the show, especially having some daring, offbeat concepts getting on the air, with the Chappelle and Schumer episodes as prime examples of such. Of course, at the same time, we got snippets of “star” showcases as comfort food for those still reeling from the departure of Kate and Aidy, as well as attempts at going “wacky” with some absolutely embarrassing sketches by new writer and basically the current star of the writing staff Jimmy Fowlie, as well as Bowen Yang’s vamping and camping; grandstanding the camera like a past-his-prime child star. All of these negative factors, which only got more and more prominent as the season went along, sadly overcame the experimental, odd nature of a lot of the first dozen shows of the season offered, and, while we’ll never know how the last three episodes would’ve went down, I sadly think we would’ve gotten more and more camping, more Bowen Vamping, more attempts at “laffing”, pandering, and maybe, just maybe, very few conceptual pieces that challenge the viewers and ask for more of an offbeat feeling, instead of the comfort food, security blanket atmosphere feel the star & “wacky” pieces we were bombarded by offered in earlier attempts. That godawful, wretched Nails mess sadly felt like a fitting closure to the season, but especially those last two runs, which, in my view, killed the potential provided by the previous months of the season.
It wasn’t, however, all bleak at the end. The rise of cast member James Austin Johnson into the utility star he should’ve been since the very beginning was so welcomed during the second half of the season, especially how much of a saving grace his mere presence was in so many sketches. James displayed such incredible versatility, creativity, and uniqueness throughout this half of the season; the long streak of weekly showcases of his talents was in particular satisfying, especially those patented and genuinely hilarious pieces with Andrew Dismukes; a performer, much like James, that should’ve been one of the big stars and leaders of the show, instead of the muggy, “wacky” ones eating up a lot of the valuable airtime. Also, the newbies added a breath of fresh air to the show, despite being barely utilized aside from individual showcases scattered throughout the year. Michael Longfellow in particular has been an absolute delight to watch, with his trademark snarky, deadpan delivery and demeanor, sketch-stealing moments, and his desk pieces throughout the last several months of the season were especially fantastic and showcase such promise in him moving ahead. Devon, Marcello, and Molly were all also enjoyable to watch, though I am beginning to worry regarding the latter, and more on that as I go through the cast breakdown.
So, what’s there left to say about season 48? At the moment, and not knowing what the future seasons of this new era would go on to be, I’d say it is a transitional season with some promise, impressive highs, and shining moments that were long overdue for several underappreciated cast members, and at the same time, very worrisome, bleak signs of what could come in the future: some of the most embarrassing, demoralizing moments I could think of since beginning to watch SNL live were in this season; several factors that were responsible in me checking out as I watched & reviewed several episodes came to a head quite a number of times in both halves, though more in this one unfortunately, especially the unintended finale’s last three sketches. Factors such as attempts at pandering, trying to act “wacky”, overuse of certain cast members over an ensemble feel, the decline of the formerly-solid Ego Nwodim and Heidi Gardner, Bowen Yang’s presence, dullness, etc. I’ll say that the worst part of this season was that most what was the worst in it was mostly nothing outright horrific or anything, but just very…. dull. And as we all know, with dullness there’s NOTHING for us to say. (The Bowen Yang sketches are the biggest example of such, as well as the Heidi/Chloe teamup bits, as mercifully few as they were.)
The Cast Breakdown:
Kenan: I’ll keep this short and sweet, so I do not upset any Kenan stans reading this post. I’ve been calling Kenan Thompson the bane of this season, and now that it is over, I still completely stand with me constantly calling him such. Kenan has reached the point where he is absolutely unwatchable to me; being smug, half-assing his performances, and giggling in and derailing practically every single sketch he was in this year. It tells a lot that my most positive review of his this year was in a sketch that was utterly despised by quite a number of fellow reviewers of the show. It was truly something seeing his amateur, giggly, and Nickelodeon-esque muggy performance next to James’ solid, mature, and professional Dan/Phil-esque performance as the gameshow host in the Couple Goals sketch near the end of the season. There’s no reason at all to have him back eating up airtime with his out-of-date, embarrassing shtick no more. Although, I know for certain he’s not going anywhere anytime soon
Che/Colin: There’s really nothing that much to say about our Update duo, but this was one of their better latter years behind the desk, though I was never that tired of them as some fellow reviewers seem to be, aside from a few sleepy Updates in season 47. Despite having some especially brutal correspondent pieces this year (Bowen, Heidi, Chloe, looking at your way…..), Colin & Che were as fun as usual, with some truly strong jokes and moments, especially during the second half of the season. I doubt, unlike Mikey, that Che & Jost would leave this summer without a goodbye, but I certainly hope that they leave soon as I am very eager to review at least one new Update era for the remainder of my reviewing tenure.
Mikey: Mikey had one of his best seasons in his entire tenure, his finest probably since his debut season. Mikey, alongside James, is my personal pick for MVP of the season, which is a little surreal considering how I was worried that he’d annoyed based on that season premiere. Mikey gave this season, what I feel, are some of his best performances throughout his entire run, and considering the highs of his aforementioned run, this is saying a lot. Between the very fun, meta “Black Heaven”, his desperate and desolate husband in “State Farm” and his very lovably Mikey-esque dad in “Traffic Altercation”, this is quite possibly Mikey’s finest year in his whole tenure.
Heidi: I really don’t have much to say about Heidi this year aside that it is just plain sad seeing her on the show this season trotting out embarrassingly awful showpieces like that flat asses mess or her umpteenth Fowlie-written wacky “masterpiece” such as Hole & Bussy or her incest mom disaster during the already-dreary Woody Harrelson episode, amongst so many others. It is very demoralizing to me, a person that greatly enjoyed Heidi in her first four seasons, to see her sinking on a weekly basis with such pandering, hacky sketches. I cannot even think of what “campy” showpiece she could’ve performed with Jennifer Coolidge or Kieran Culkin before the season abruptly ended. There’s no reason to have her back for another year, sad to say
Ego: Much like Bowen, Ego took an overall step down this year, with her becoming very hit-or-miss with her work throughout the year. Although, unlike Bowen, she had a good number of solid showcases and was as reliable as ever in support, and her misses, for the most part, were merely subpar instead of frustratingly bad like some of the other “stars” this season. I’ve seen some very reliable fellow fans saying she’s trying to prove her worth by doing shtick like Lisa from Temecula, but I always felt that Ego already proved her worth with the last two seasons; emerging as one of the very best current cast members. Unlike most of the other vets’ pieces, some of the sketches that didn’t work for me by her at least had elements that I could see Ego going for in them, such as Girl Talk. I only hope this season is only just a rediscovery one for Ego after a major exodus and not the beginning of a demoralizing decline moving ahead, as she has proven herself to be such a backbone to the show in previous years.
Bowen/Chloe: Bowen in particular had an especially frustrating season. Continuing his rapid decline as a cast member from last season, he took an even more hit-or-miss route this season than usual. And while the hits, as far in between as they were, were mostly very solid, the misses, especially during the second half, were absolutely BRUTAL for me to sit through and review. There are quite a number of cast members in SNL history that are best taken in small doses due to their dominant nature, performance-wise, and Bowen Yang, to me, is one of the biggest examples of such. I cannot think of any other performer I changed my perception of so quickly in the matter of a single calendar year: going from finding him mostly-fun last year to barely being able to sit through a sketch of his in this year without basically yelling at my TV screen. I am sure Bowen Yang is a great person behind the scenes at SNL and everything, but the sheer smugness, self-indulgence, and genuine unfunniness that he’s been displaying as of late makes him come off to me off-putting, pretentious, and beyond annoying. He’s been rapidly becoming the Armisen-esque embarrassing/cringe-inducing cast member that Fred was in his latter years, especially his overlong, intentionally over-the-top sketches that dominated his latter work this year and singlehandedly tanked a few episodes for me.
Much like Heidi, it was basically sad watching Chloe this season. I think Chloe is a very talented performer, with versatility and natural presence, and I was never of the opinion that she doesn’t fit SNL before seeing her work this season, especially those vamp teamups with Heidi. I’ve said that Chloe seems lost as a performer before during my reviews of the season, and I still sadly think that’s the case. I sure hope she either improves her work in the future or just leave for greener pastures.
Andrew/Punkie: Andrew had a surreal season as a whole for me: starting out with a hot streak with solid airtime and weekly showcases during the first two months, before basically vanishing for the rest of the year beside two episodes. I won’t lie that Andrew’s extreme underuse was one of the factors that routinely had me checked out as the season went along, as I feel not only is he one of the very best current cast members, but one of the very few who nowadays seems to actually care about what he does; never attempting to hog the cameras or grandstand in front of the audience (unlike a certain other cast member), and his sincerity in his work makes him even better for me. Despite his extreme underuse and the backlash against by him a small, yet vocal faction of the fandom who felt supposed “bad vibes” in his pieces earlier in the year (and I am sure said fans loved flat butts and suckas), I feel that Andrew had some of his absolute finest moments this season, and considering the spectacular highs he’s had in his run, that’s saying a lot. Andrew had a terrific, much-deserved backstage piece as himself, with patented absurd elements in “Falling Down” and a surprising, but very welcomed Aykroyd/Piscopo-esque throwback piece in “King Brothers Toyota”. I do not know what the future seasons will hold for Andrew, but I know, after especially seeing what type of material got on instead of his this year, that he’ll never disappoint me or himself moving ahead.
Punkie remained as underused as usual this season, though she was as solid and endlessly charming when being actually used. I really cannot comprehend how she’s barely utilized, considering how effortless, likable, and just plain fun and funny she is when given the chance to do something. I could see Punkie either continuing on the show moving ahead with very few chances here and there to shine or leave the show and have a solid career in either stand-up or TV, as I’ve heard she was solid in Love Life. Both of the options I’d be content with, so I hope Punkie does what she feels is best for her moving forward.
James/Sarah: James had such a strong year in general, with so many chances to shine, in particular throughout the second half of the season, outside of the impressionist/cold open box so many of us were worried he would be put in. I remain amazed at the incredible versatility James’ shown through the season, between the utility/glue roles he so deservedly routinely got and his starring pieces: the difference in how he nailed his brooding, sharp noir detective in “Film Noir” and his genuinely fun, silly performance in “King Brothers Toyota” from week to week was incredible. In fact, James is the very first cast member in a very long time that constantly gives me Dan Aykroyd/Phil Hartman vibes, and I do not use these words lightly. James reminds me so much of them in not only how he performs, but at times how he even looks in certain sketches. James has all the elements that I love so much in a sketch performer and were certainly in Dan & Phil: strong impressionist, great everyman/utility player, knack for creative sketches, consummate professional, etc. I feel, if James continues to be used as well as he was during most of his sophomore year, he would go on to be one of SNL’s all-time great utility players, and he certainly more than earned his airtime as of late.
Sarah has had an overall pretty solid sophomore season. While an overall step up in terms of prominence and number of showcases from her first stellar year, I felt it wasn’t as strong, material-wise. While she still did some very strong & creative pieces this season much like her first, I felt her comedic voice at times wasn’t too clear in some of her sketches, and we had a few more ok/pretty good pieces from her instead of great/excellent. Sarah also felt, throughout the second half especially, lost in the shuffle and poorly used, as I’ll elaborate briefly on a little later. Still, we got our usual moments of her patented hilarity and lovable fearlessness, particularly her surprising character turn in “Peppa Pig Fan Club President”, as the concerned parent who actually is into all the things she claims to oppose so much. A desk piece that stands out as my favorite of the entire season, and a highpoint in Sarah’s tenure. Or her turn as the employee freaking out over forgetting to put her normal eyeballs on, in our first much-anticipated oddball sketch of hers this year with “Eyes”, which is quite possibly my favorite Sarah Sherman sketch so far into her run. Finally, while Sarah remains one of my favorites still, I am beginning to get worried seeing her being spread too thin in roles that do not fit her talents, and especially her being constantly, and for no reason, getting cast in drag as old men; a sight for a desperate, cheap laugh. I do hope she continues her sincere & genuine comedic moments into her run, and no more trying to make her Kate 2.0 with such roles.
Devon was the newbie I felt most worried about earlier in the season, especially how he displayed at the time some greenness in his live sketch performances and how the show seemed to barely have him in comedic roles, but with the second half, I felt had had a solid turnaround and displayed both his very likable personality and some excellent, sketch-stealing line deliveries; displayed best in “HIV Commercial” in which he had the audience basically around his finger between each punchline. While Devon has his limitations as a cast member, I feel he’s been leaning into his stronger sides, which I hope he continues to do moving forward.
Marcello is another cast member that, much like Devon, had such naturally likable presence about him that excuses some of his limitations as a performer. Marcello, alongside Michael, seem to be one of the more popular performers in the current cast already (and being the main eye candy certainly helps too), so I did expect him to do a bit more than what he did in this debut season, but I can definitely see him being a bigger presence next season.
As I hinted earlier in this post, Michael turned out to be an absolute delight as a new hire, with fantastic, daring desk pieces and naturally likable, charismatic presence as himself. Michael also happens to be one of the very few current cast members that enhances a sketch with his mere presence, such as his sketch-stealing, priceless moment in “Club Velvet” which is easily one of the standout, single funniest moments of the entire season. I honestly have nothing but high hopes for Michael moving ahead, not only in his own sketches/desk pieces, but how he could be such a reliable, sketch-saving cast member in the future.
Molly, I felt, had a very solid start earlier in the season with pieces such as “New Cast Advice”, which both displayed the raw energy they have being utilized perfectly and the decent “Please Don’t Destroy – Election Night” which rested on their sheer natural warmth and charm. With that being said, I felt, for most of the remainder of the season, Molly was routinely put, in the box of dressing up as plus-sized male celebrities like Brendan Gleeson or, more dangerously, being used as a security blanket for the audience in their two desk pieces. I do not know about other fans, but I certainly don’t need cast members to tuck me to bed with soft, barely comedic pieces. And while I like Molly quite a bit and they certainly have a warm presence, this usage of them is not only such a waste of them, but doesn’t make sense as they have to yet form a bond with the audience who still isn’t all that familiar with them. This usage of Molly, as well as some “stars” aping the work and style of former long-term, beloved former cast members, only shows me how much SNL loves to put its cast in boxes, whether they want it or not.
- While I understand why some might’ve enjoyed that episode, I still do not feel too high on the Keke Palmer episode as a whole myself. One of the reasons for such is how much of a harbinger it was to me in regards to the aspects the show would later focus on in the second half much to my own annoyance (e.g. “star” showcases, focus on pandering and/or weak humor, dullness, etc.). Nevertheless, what the two sides debating said episode agreed upon, is how fun & solid Keke Palmer was as the host; being to me the best thing in the duller segments of said episode.
- I’m a bit surprised by the high average the Pedro Pascal episode has. While I think the episode is solid and lots of fun, especially how endlessly charming & fun Pedro was as the host, I expected it to be around the Michael B. Jordan & Aubrey Plaza episodes in its average. I guess barely having sketches rated below three stars did that to it.
And Now Some Data:
Miles Teller / Kendrick Lamar – 5.2
Brendan Gleeson / Willow – 7.3
Megan Thee Stallion – 5.5
Jack Harlow – 6.2
Amy Schumer – Steve Lacy – 5.8
Dave Chappelle / Black Star – 7.5
Keke Palmer / SZA – 5.6
Steve Martin & Martin Short / Brandi Carlile – 6.8
Austin Butler / Lizzo – 7.2
Aubrey Plaza / Sam Smith – 6.6
Michael B. Jordan / Lil Baby – 6.7
Pedro Pascal / Coldplay – 6.9
Woody Harrelson / Jack White – 4.8
Travis Kelce / Kelsea Ballerini – 6.0
Jenna Ortega / The 1975 – 6.7
Quinta Brunson / Lil Yachty – 6.6
Molly Shannon / Jonas Brothers – 6.2
Ana de Armas / Karol G – 5.5
Best Episode: Dave Chappelle – 7.5 (Runner-Up: Brendan Gleeson – 7.3) Worst Episode: Woody Harrelson – 4.8 (Runner-Up: Miles Teller – 5.2)
Season Average: 6.3
Barbershop (Dave Chappelle)
A Christmas Carol (Steve Martin & Martin Short)
A Christmas Epiphany (Austin Butler)
Protective Mom (Pedro Pascal)
Waffle House (Jenna Ortega)
Donalds & Dominguez (Jenna Ortega)
New Cast Advice (Brendan Gleeson)
Eyes (Brendan Gleeson)
Covid (Amy Schumer)
Monologue (Dave Chappelle)
Black Heaven (Dave Chappelle)
Monologue (Steve Martin & Martin Short)
State Farm (Michael B. Jordan)
King Brothers Toyota (Michael B. Jordan)
Falling Down (Michael B. Jordan)
Weekend Update (Pedro Pascal)
Straight Male Friend (Travis Kelce)
Weekend Update (Travis Kelce)
Traffic Altercation (Quinta Brunson)
Please Don’t Destroy – Tommy (Brendan Gleeson)
Weekend Update (Brendan Gleeson)
The Post-Halloween Red Carpet Special (Jack Harlow)
AA Meeting (Jack Harlow)
2020 Part 2: 2024 (Jack Harlow)
Monologue (Keke Palmer)
Jewish Elvis (Austin Butler)
White Elephant (Austin Butler)
CFT: Fusion Scientist (Austin Butler)
Morning Announcements (Aubrey Plaza)
Taboo (Aubrey Plaza)
Weekend Update (Aubrey Plaza)
Film Noir (Aubrey Plaza)
Mario Kart (Pedro Pascal)
Wing Pit (Pedro Pascal)
School vs. School (Jenna Ortega)
Monologue (Quinta Brunson)
Club Velvet (Quinta Brunson)
Weekend Update (Quinta Brunson)
Please Don’t Destroy – Street Eats (Quinta Brunson)
American Girl Land (Ana de Armas)
Spanish Class (Ana de Armas)
January 6th Final Hearing (Megan Thee Stallion)
Hot Girl Hospital (Megan Thee Stallion)
Workout Class (Megan Thee Stallion)
PBS Newshour (Jack Harlow)
Joker (Jack Harlow)
Midterm Address (Amy Schumer)
Twitter Council (Amy Schumer)
WKTV News (Amy Schumer)
Minky (Steve Martin & Martin Short)
Street Fighter 6 (Michael B. Jordan)
Party in Palm Springs (Michael B. Jordan)
MSNBC Reports (Pedro Pascal)
Mama’s Funeral (Travis Kelce)
Garrett from Hinge (Travis Kelce)
The Parent Trap (Jenna Ortega)
Excorism (Jenna Ortega)
Trump Indictment (Quinta Brunson)
Charmin Bears (Miles Teller)
Jets Fans (Amy Schumer)
Forceington’s Ridge (Keke Palmer)
Avatar (Aubrey Plaza)
Trump in Ohio (Woody Harrelson)
Jail Scene (Woody Harrelson)
Too Hot To Handle (Travis Kelce)
Dog Acting School (Ana de Armas)
Grimace (Miles Teller)
Herschel Walker Meeting (Keke Palmer)
Slingshot (Woody Harrelson)
Beautiful Gym (Woody Harrelson)
Midwife (Quinta Brunson)
Lisa from Temecula: Wedding (Ana de Armas)
Nails (Ana de Armas)
- And thus ends the biggest season of reviews on my blog so far! Thanks to everyone who reads, supports, comments and shares these reviews. It’s been especially a delight reading your thoughts on here and other venues; it means the world to me (and I’ve been touched by the many loving private messages when I quit a certain venue a while ago), especially when they differ than mine. I apologize if I was a bit late in posting this wrap-up, as my new job is making it virtually impossible to have a lot of free time, but hopefully the summer would be much more freeing for me and quite eventful for the blog. Till then, farewell!
- My season 44 reviews begin with host Adam Driver & musical guest Kanye West.
9 Replies to “SNL48 Wrap-Up Extravaganza!”
Awesome rundown see ya in the fall (unless you’ll do another essay or something even more exciting and different) the great Blood Meridian.
What was the sketch of Kenan’s that you liked and others don’t?
“Awesome rundown see ya in the fall (unless you’ll do another essay or something even more exciting and different) the great Blood Meridian.”
Thanks. I am planning to review seasons 44 & 45 in the summer actually, as I stated in the “Coming Soon” section above.
“What was the sketch of Kenan’s that you liked and others don’t?”
The deer sketch in the Megan Thee Stallion episode.
My bad didn’t see that excited for those though
Agree with Kenan anytime he’s on I know it’s finna be A. lousy Impression, B. Breaking, C. Corniness and the day he leaves will finally be the saving point of what could be an aight era, I personally wish Jaj wasn’t just the impression guy, another lousy season for Bowen and Punkie, Che and Longfellow carried this season on their backs.
Great write up Blood!! I agree with a lot of your comments! JAJ is my MVP of this season. I’m flabberghasted by his talent. I really think he could be Phil Hartman level which is insane to even think about. I know him and Dismukes are touring this summer so I hope we see more of him. Heidi and Bowen’s downfall has been hard to watch. It reminds me of Wiig or Armisen’s tenure. I still think Ego is one of the show’s best. She has misses sure but she is such an incredible actress. Also hope Sarah doesn’t get saddled with wacky roles next and sticks to her unique brand of weird.
Also I gained a lot of appreciation for Mikey Day this season. I was ready for him to leave last year. This year he writes and stares in most of the seasons best material. Do you think he’ll leave? I have a strong feeling.
*more of the Dismukes/JAJ pair up
Longfellow is giving me Day vibes and that’s a good thing.
It is very depressing what’s happened to Chloe and Heidi this season. Chloe is the crutch for bad sketches and Heidi is forced to have to do new Update bits than (What I’d prefer) her previous update characters.
Another downfall is the show desperately trying to give Bowen a recurring character. Those were lame from the beginning and they kept trying.
I’m glad we never got the trainwreck of Pete, Who I never understand the appeal of.
Here’s my Best of Season 48: (Blood, I’m going to anger you with my favorites)
1. Manning Cast (48.1)
2. Monologue- Steve Martin & Martin Short (48.8)
3. Commercial- Wing Pit (48.12)
4. New Cast Advice (48.2)
5. Weekend Update- Genesis Fry (48.18)
6. Miss World (48.10)
7. Black Heaven (48.6)
8. Stripper (48.11)
9. Weekend Update- Michael Longfellow (48.1)
10. Crying (48.14)
11. A Year of a 1000 Men (48.17)
12. Big Dumb Hat (48.5)
13. I Was A Bridesmaid (48.16)
14. Please Don’t Destroy- Tommy (48.2)
15. Traffic Altercation (48.16)
16. United Tingz of Aubrey (48.7)
17. Italian Restaurant (48.12)
18. Weekend Update- Debby Hole and Stacy Bussy (48.3)
19. Ridiculousness (48.15)
20. The Looker (48.5)
21. Taboo (48.10)
22. Please Don’t Destroy- Chelsea (48.8)
23. The Whale (48.13)
I haven’t cared for this season, and in many ways feel like the season all but ended after the Chappelle episode (rightfully divisive as that episode was, it was one of the last to feel very strong or focused to me [outside of that monologue]). I’ve appreciated your reviews to help provide insights and critiques that I sometimes just wasn’t interested in finding for myself.
I share many of your views on the cast this season, especially Bowen, Kenan, Ego and Heidi. I’ve rarely felt so disappointed by the fate of a cast. SNL’s incessant need for a star system and for the easiest path meant that we went from having a cast full of vets who were past their prime to having a cast full of people trying and failing to imitate those vets, who even at their worst were better than a number of the high profile performers this season.
I’m sorry that the season did not end properly, that the dire Ana de Armas episode which epitomized so much of the worst of 48 was the last glimpse we got for what may be many, many, many months, but above all else I’m sorry that I couldn’t even be more upset. Frankly, a part of me was relieved the whole thing was over, which is not how I ever want to feel about SNL.
Thank you again, and I look forward to your upcoming reviews in whatever form they take.