Dakota Johnson Hosts SNL: Watch Video of the Best and Worst Sketches

Put a rising Hollywood actress starring in a box-office smash in NBC’s legendary Studio 8H stage to host Saturday Night Live, and what do you get?

If you’re Dakota Johnson, it turns out you get a modestly successful SNL debut, with most of the inevitable flurry of bondage jokes referencing Fifty Shades of Grey – including a cameo from her famous parents Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson (“We were just afraid you were going to be naked”) – hitting the mark.

Below, my picks for the night’s best and worst moments:

BEST: Brave
The outright glee that the SNL ladies showcased during this Microsoft commercial parody (featuring the ubiquitous Sara Bareilles hit “Brave”) was downright infectious. As their liberating truth bombs started to fly (highlighted by Kate McKinnon’s impatient woman in a bathroom stall finally screaming at Sasheer Zamata, “Excuse me, I can’t poop while you’re in here… so I’m gonna need you to get the f*** ouuuuut!”) the sketch grew increasingly more scathing, and more hilarious.

BEST: Fifty Shades Press Junket
What better way to parody the movie’s full-court publicity press than by letting a nerdy middle school student (a game Kyle Mooney) interview sexy star Johnson — and get entirely (and cluelessly?) inappropriate in the process? “Now when Christian shows you his playroom for the first time…”

BEST: Weekend Update: Kanye’s Apology
While Kate McKinnon’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg (“You’ve been Gins-burned!”) never quite caught fire, Jay Pharoah’s “Greatest Apology of All Time” rap (“…I asked Apple to autocorrect the word Beck to Beyonce, I’m sorry!”) was oh-so-perfectly Kanye-esque.

WORST: Cold Open: The “Real Story” With Gretchen Carlson
OK, there were worse sketches tonight (Cinderella, anyone?) but how did such a promising, seemingly clever concept – a Birdman sendup called Giuliani, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – fail quite so spectacularly? Vanessa Bayer’s Carlson was mildly amusing and Taran Killam’s Rudy Giuliani/Michael Keaton totally nailed the actor’s nervous facial tics, but even if you’ve seen this year’s Oscar winner – and woe to those who haven’t – the specific point of this cold opener was…what exactly? On the upside, Johnson did a killer (and all too brief) Emma Stone.

WORST: Worf M. D.
Other than the well-intended Leonard Nimoy tribute at the end (a shot of Mr. Spock with “Live Long and Prosper”), this unbearable sketch’s only redeemable moment was when Johnson unexpectedly (and adorably) broke up before uttering, “you look so stupid” to Kenan Thompson’s Star Trek-inspired doctor. You got that right, girl!

WORST: Net Neutrality
One decent yet random Fifty Shades joke (an out of the blue “Harder!” from Johnson after she randomly got slapped by another panelist) couldn’t possibly save this lame and nonsensical attempt to debate net neutrality.

MOST POLARIZING: ISIS: We’ll Take It From Here Dad
Was this short mildly inappropriate, horribly offensive, or a welcome return to the wildly subversive SNL glory days? Who honestly expected Johnson’s sweet high-school grad to chirp that totally unexpected, Marcia Brady-esque “Dad, it’s just ISIS,” to her father, and then jump into a truck full of gun-toting terrorists?

What did you think of Dakota Johnson’s SNL hosting gig? Take out poll below, then sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Brandon says:

    I had low expectations for this episode, but I LOVED it. The Brave sketch and Weekend Updates were the best, but I even liked what you considered the “worst.”

    I’d give honorable mention to the final hidden camera sketch. But I’m one of the few who love Kyle’s awkward humor.

    • jbj says:

      I liked the Net Neutrality sketch, because it seems like an incredibly important, but incomprehensible legal issue. And the media makes it worse by having talking heads who explain it poorly. I loved Bobby Moynahan’s expert’s reference to “Bill Jobs.”

      I thought the ISIS commercial was funny, because it’s pretty inconceivable to me how ISIS is recruiting all these young people, let alone teenage girls. However, I was unfamiliar with the US Army ads, so I can see how some might be offended by anyone comparing the two.

  2. I thought the “Harder” joke in the “Net Neutrality” sketch was awesome! Got some great laughs this episode, and really liked overall.
    The worst part was definitely the Worf M.D. stuff, but even that was compensated by Johnson breaking.

  3. “(a shot of Dr. Spock with “Live Long and Prosper”)” Um… nope, heh.

  4. A. D. says:

    Worst Episode of the Season!

  5. Dj says:

    I thought last night snl was one of the worst snl of the season. Dakota is gorgeous but at times she came off as nervous and at other times she lacked energy. The writing didn’t help her either. Although Jay’s spot on Kanye was the bright spot.

  6. colig says:

    kyle mooney is the weakest link. horrible.also aidy bryant.the comic timing and delivery of these two hacks are well below par.time for replacements.

  7. Rebecca says:

    I loved it! People will hate simply because it’s her and they don’t agree with her movie.

    • wrstlgirl says:


    • Meredith says:

      I can honestly say my dislike for her has nothing to do with “agreeing” with her movie. I’m happy to let people have their kinks, but I find Dakota to be relentlessly boring and utterly without personality. I wouldn’t even say I hate her, because she’s not interesting enough for me to hate.

    • Mart says:

      I didn’t hate it, but it was weak. And it wasn’t because of “her movie”. She’s just so white bread boring and no charisma. While 50SOG was probably unintentionally funny to a lot of people, she doesn’t seem to have a lot of comedy chops. Now granted, some of the painfully long and unfunny sketches couldn’t have been saved by anyone, and there were moments that worked. But it’s unlikely she’s going to be remembered as an unexpectedly delightful and funny SNL host.

  8. Helvetica says:

    Question for the week: were all other cast members unavailable or sick that Taran Killam had a part in almost every sketch – even the pre-recorded ones? He is great in his roles but it just seemed a bit strange.

  9. yoyomomma says:

    snl as a whole needs to steps its game up. the kanye thing was the only sketch that was semi funny.

  10. Dj says:

    Does anyone else think Riblet is better at the weekend update desk then Che.

    • kate says:


    • Wayne says:

      I can’t stand the Riblet character and I’m very tired of Drunk Uncle. I would banish both of them to the same Hell that I hope Garth and Kat are in. Bobby Moynihan needs new characters but, then again, he’s been around way too long. Time for him and Kenan to move on. Michael Che looks more and more bored every single week and I just don’t see Colin Jost improving much. Time for big changes.

    • Ashley says:

      Yes, but it’s a low bar.

  11. Tran says:

    I give the Dakota Johnson episode of SNL a B. It was a good episode in my opinion even though the long running sketch series were coming off their 40th anniversary special two weeks ago. Worf M.D. was without a doubt the worst sketch of the night and kudos to the ladies of SNL showcasing their gleeful sides to the tune of Sara Bareilles’ “Brave”. Can’t wait to see how Chris Hemsworth is going to fare as host next week.

    • Tran says:

      BTW, thank goodness her dad Don Johnson was there along with Melanie Griffith who ended her marriage to Antonio Banderas years ago.

  12. jill says:

    When are they going to give up on Kyle Mooney & Beck Bennett being the next Lonely Island? Not going to happen! And Kyle needs to go. He adds nothing as an actor. Pete Davidson has to be a disappointment, too.

    • Rosie says:

      The think that bugs me about Pete Davidson is that he always has this “Hey, look at me, everyone. I’m on SNL!!” face, so you can never buy into whatever character he is playing. Good comedians are good actors too, and Davidson needs to commit to what he’s doing. Also, more than most of the cast, he seems to always be eyeballing the cue cards which further makes it seem like he’s an amateur. He is probably killer at stand-up, but being able to blend into any skit is not a talent I have seen from him so far.

      That being said, he’s 100% better than I could hope to be because I would be so nervous all the time, I’d just stand there and wet my pants every Saturday night :-)

    • Tran says:

      In my opinion Beck & Kyle are still at their best when it comes to sketches and these two are like SNL’s version of Key & Peele. As for Pete Davidson, he’s a rising star at a very young age and he needs more to step up his game.

    • cyclone says:

      I couldn’t agree more about Kyle and Beck. When they made the cuts before the season started of last years newbies I thought for sure Kyle would be a goner too but they kept him. Beck can at least blend into characters like some political guys and stuff but Kyle has such a weird look it is very hard for him to impersonate someone.
      As for Pete Davidson, he must be the nephew or something of someone because I can’t come up with any other reason why they would continue to put someone with so little talent on the show week in and week out. I will be very surprised if he is back next year.

  13. wrstlgirl says:

    Dakota is a beautiful, talented young lady. She did a great job. SNL is just not a great show anymore. And considering a young girl was just murdered by ISIS that “joke” was completely tasteless. Shame on them.

  14. Dude says:

    The ISIS sketch was genius! SNL needs to do more stuff like this.

  15. liame says:

    Why did Don Johnson look 40ish and Melanie look 70ish? The show was so so. I didn’t have any high hopes, so I wasn’t let down.

    • Spitey Spice says:

      Because life isn’t fair, sigh.

    • jbj says:

      I know, right! I even suddenly remembered that she inappropriately young their first time around, and had to look up their age difference. Even if he’s had work done, it isn’t very obvious, and he also looks better than her other two exes.

  16. Lisa says:

    The isis sketch was pure genius! any moron dumb enough to go over deserves to be lampooned and then killed for being traitors and terrorists. only a complete idiot who deserves to die would go over. Let’s cull the herd. And send them for free. Hopefully, anybody who romanticizes the movement who saw what the world thinks of their idiocy might reconsider

  17. Cindy says:

    Enjoyed Dakota Johnson a lot, but I can’t believe nobody’s mentioned how awesome Brittany Howard and the Alabama Shakes were – second song was worth the wait!

  18. Once again the cold opening was probably the worst (unless you disliked the ISIS sketch, I can see that being the worst for some). That’s really been an issue lately.

  19. cyclone says:

    Worf MD was horrible but I actually wasn’t sure if the nurse laughing was Dakota breaking or if it was scripted as the nurse laughing as the doctors ridiculousness. And if this was planned before Leonard Nimoy’s passing, than they should have cut it at dress and replaced it with another sketch. It didn’t make sense that Worf did the live long and prosper hand gesture. I mean I’m not a big Star Trek fan but even I had a look on my face like “WTF is going on”.

    And Kate McKinnon’s “Ruth Bader Ginsberg” on Weekend Update was hilarious followed by Bobby Moynihan’s “Riblet” (who reads the news better than Michael Che) and a distant last was the Kanye impression.

    Also wasn’t the Isis commercial a take on a similar one from the Superbowl where the girl goes to join the Army? I remember that ad cause I started crying.

    I know Dakota, I liked her show Ben and Kate (but I haven’t seen 50 shades), and I know she can stand on her own but I would’ve like a little more interaction with her parents, or maybe something different (cause that brief interaction wasn’t as funny as they probably thought it would be). The 3 of them together is probably rare so it just would’ve been nice like a 3 generation thing.

    And I was a little lost with the cold open. Did Giuliani really say those things? Then when I realized it was a Birdman type sketch I kind of understood it but no really.

    And the “Brave” sketch I was really hoping was another woman’s rap with all the girls ala “Twin Bed” and “Back Home Ballers” but alas I need to wait for another gem like that.

  20. Julie says:

    Whether you were offended by the ISIS sketch or not, it was stupid. I’ve seen it all over the news this morning so clearly it had the effect they were probably going for. And while I feel like I have at least a slight sense of humor, I still thought it was dumb.

  21. AC says:

    y’all missed the I CAN’T EVEN sketch. It was the best.

  22. flutiefan says:

    how did “I LITERALLY CAN’T EVEN” not make the list of Best sketches?! it is 100% accurate for the generation currently entering the workforce (and has been for the past couple years). i loved it!