Miley Cyrus Hosts SNL (and Hillary Clinton Assists): Best/Worst Sketches?

I refuse to begin this recap of Saturday Night Live‘s Season 41 premiere by saying that host Miley Cyrus came in like a wrecking ball. That would simply be too obvious, and also not entirely accurate, considering her opening monologue proved to be a good-natured (and pretty funny) takedown of the Maddening But Ultimately Fleeting Newsmakers of Summer 2015.

Kim Davis. Rachel Dolezal. The Entourage movie. Jared Fogle and Josh Duggar (the same creepy Bobby Moynihan impression — minus a pair of glasses). They all got mocked — and ultimately dismissed — to the solid strains of Miley’s “My Way.”

But while The Artist Formerly Known as Hannah Montana proved to be solid, if not entirely spectacular, in her third hosting effort, former Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton busted through partisan lines and proved pretty damn funny playing a bartender in a meta sketch opposite Kate McKinnon playing her own high-strung caricature of… Hillary Clinton.

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

Regardless of your political leanings, it would be hard to deny that Clinton proved a game (albeit cue card-reliant) sport as bartender “Val” allowed McKinnon’s version of herself to poke fun at her own slowness in supporting same-sex marriage and condemning the Keystone Pipeline. My two favorite two moments from the encounter? McKinnon’s Clinton sternly noting, “I have a one-year-old granddaughter: She calls me Madam President.” And then there the actual Clinton, weighing in on Donald Trump’s run for the nation’s highest office with a pretty-solid approximation of the Celebrity Apprentice’s speaking candence: “Isn’t he the one that’s like, ‘Ugggh… you’re all losers!’?”

Sorority sisters Vanessa Bayer and Aidy Bryan’s car accident renders them unconscious for months — and when they wake, they learn that the nation’s zombie-apocalypse conditions are merely a result of every person in America joining Taylor Swift’s “squad” — a collection of famous- and model-types who, to Bayer’s understanding, spend their entire day thusly: “I think she invites them on stage and then they, like, walk around on stage for a minute or something.” For those of us who find #SquadGoals less palatable than Syrup of Ipecac, this was one of SNL‘s best movie trailers in recent memory.

OK, so this new “primetime soap” shares quite a bit of DNA with prior/inferior SNL staple “The Californians” — particularly in the over-the-top accents department. But there were some sharp jokes, too, around the entitlement of employees of a certain age — and Miley herself got the most laughs with her exasperated, “I need to go to the south of France to get some perspective!” I wouldn’t mind a repeat installment – just as long as the show’s writers don’t beat the dead horse ’til it’s nothing but silt and bone fragment.

The final few minutes of the episode turned out to be a messier-than-a-Nature’s-Valley-granola-bar affair in which Mooney whined to pals Beck Bennett and Bobby Moynihan about why he didn’t want to marry Miley — despite her even turning his negatives into positives. Not only did the bit waste Cyrus’ down-for-whatever wackiness, but its fast-forward to the couple’s first child, and then Mooney’s own death, felt like it was thrown together during the commercial break after Weekend Update.

Bad enough that Mooney’s pontiff sounded like Borat, but his characterization of the Pope as a Brooklyn party boy failed in both concept and execution. The polite laughter following his “jokes” about dining on Hawaiian pizza and going to a club with “emojis” as passwords was more damning than any descriptive terms I can conjure up at this moment.

Your turn. What did you think of the SNL Season 41 premiere? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments! (We’ll post video as soon as it’s available on Sunday a.m.)

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. Why the hell was she crying? What was that?

    • shawndee says:

      Did you not see the pics of her pets on the piano? This was a song for her passed dog. The only true emotion we see from this contrived ‘star’ is emotion over her pets – what about the negative- negligent influence and impact she is having over a generation of already jeopardized youg ladies? Gross…

      • I saw them and I figured they were these “dead pets” she mentioned, but I haven’t seen cry-singing since Rembrandt Brown and he was much better at it.

        And don’t you worry about Miley’s influence on young girls. I’m sure there is a sizable demographic that ignore her, much like many in my generation ignored Hanson, Celine Dion and The Spice Girls.

      • Robby says:

        The more I know about man, the more I love my dog.

        Mark Twain

      • Angela says:

        what about the negative- negligent influence and impact she is having over a generation of already jeopardized youg ladies? Gross…
        You realize that 15 or so years ago, people said the exact same things about Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera that you’re saying about Miley, right? Those of us who were fans of those women as teenagers generally turned out okay, so I’m pretty sure teenagers who listen to Miley will, too. Try giving young people some credit and trust them to use their brains.
        Besides that, Miley isn’t young people’s babysitter or parent, you know that, right? It’s not her job to be their role model or teach them the right path to take in life. That’s what their parents are for. And if their parents don’t teach them right from wrong, that’s the parents’ fault. Not Miley’s.

        • Scottie says:

          And before that, it was Madonna. And not only did I turn out fine, I’m raising two teenage girls that may like Miley’s music but think she’s trying too hard with her funky/junky image. Quoted during SNL (first song) “She sings pretty and the song is amazing – why did she feel she had to wear that?!”

  2. Steven says:

    I don’t understand how Kyle Mooney is still a cast member. He just isn’t funny ad his digital sketches are just weird and boring. Also the new guy looks so much like Colin Jost.

    • Patrick says:

      Thank you. He is the worst. There have been other cast members I didn’t like for whatever reason. But every single one of them did have some redeeming skits, bits, or whatever. Mooney doesn’t. He brings the show to a grinding halt every time he comes on screen. I think Lorne thinks he’s funny, and just refuses to acknowledge that no one else does.

    • Mr. Tran K says:

      Kyle Mooney is still the worst cast member on SNL since (think of someone) and the new guy’s name is Jon Rudnitsky (remember the name).

    • Et al. says:

      He’s vile. The only thing I can figure out is he’s one of those terrible things hipsters pretend to like so they feel unique. I genuinely don’t understand how he got one season let alone two.

    • Josh Emerson says:

      Agreed, no clue why he’s still on the show. He is terrible.

    • E. Stevens says:

      I respectfully disagree. I know that’s not a phrase that anyone knows on the Internet anymore, but I’m not going to bash anyone. I actually understand that comedy is not universal. He’s not for everyone, but he is awesome to me and every person I watch with. The Pope part was horrible, I’ll admit. But the only episode I saved on DVR last season was the one with his “Circus” digital short. Friggin rolling every time I play it for someone.

    • Ray says:

      Kyle Mooney is incontrovertibly SNL’s weakest link. His continued presence on the show baffles me.

  3. Dana says:

    The Donald Trump opening was very good, I was surprised with Taram Killam

    • DL says:

      I thought he eased into it very well. At the beginning the voice felt a little off, seemed like he was getting used to doing the character on camera. But by the middle he’d hit his stride and it was perfect. The facial expressions though were spot on throughout!

  4. Valerie LaFortune says:

    Miley has the voice of an angel,her song “don’t be scared, Awesome “

  5. Debbie Matthew says:

    Why is Michael Che back on thr news????? He’s awful! When are you bringing back Cecily Strong???!!!!

  6. michael says:

    WTF is up with Miley Cyrus? I can’t believe she is still around. Her voice is terrible and she looked ridiculous. Lots of good sketches tonight from the whole cast.

    • DL says:

      Her voice was actually pretty great, I thought. I am not a Miley fan at all, refused to watch the MTV awards because I was so turned off by the ads. But I was pleasantly surprised by her performances, both songs and sketches. I am looking forward to when she gets over this crazy wacky phase, because I think she ultimately has a lot of talent — certainly enough to rely on rather than going for shock and awe all the time.

      • Really? I had the opposite reaction. I thought she sang better in the monologue, but her voice was butt ugly during her two performances. And I don’t care about her “phase” or whatever she’s supposed to be. There are weirder, more messed up artists and just the other day, I found out that a singer I’m following is Republican.

  7. michael says:

    Trump, Clinton, Update minus the Pope, and anything with Leslie Jones were all winners tonight. The 50s dance was good too.

  8. DarkDefender says:

    The Hillary sketch was dynamite. Best line: Bill popping in “they’re multiplying!”

  9. Tai Decker says:

    Funny = irreverent…unfortunately #SNL is too politically predictable to understand what potential gold they had and yet unfunny except for 2015 cringe nods.

  10. James Sutton says:

    I was sorry to see SNL jump on the let’s dis Bernie Sanders bandwagon. The Millennials sketch was awful, I am tired of seeing people complain about Millennials when the behavior they are complaining about is more often done by adults, And no I am not a Millennial I am a 65 year old baby boomer.

    • HTGR says:

      Yeah I was surprised they went so heavy with the Sanders dissing.

    • Josh Emerson says:

      THANK YOU. I am so sick of the millennial “jokes”, as if people in that age range can all be considered the same any more than older generations could be. It’s ridiculous and unfunny. I also agree about the Bernie Sanders stuff. I guess that’s how you know the Hillary supporters are scared…

  11. HTGR says:

    Pretty much agree with you, except on the Pope Francis, it wasn’t A+++, but it was kinda funny.

    Yeah the end bit was kinda weak. It didn’t really seem funny.

    All in all though it was better than I’ve seen from show in some time.

  12. shawndee says:

    Miley Cyrus: Hypocritical Narcissis. She has single handedly taken women’s rights back 30 years…disgraceful. Wake up young ladies and others paying her to be an idiot – STOP buying it into it.

  13. shawndee says:

    Just had a thought and had to share: Miley: You are not in the same league as Marilyn, Madonna, Cher, or Lady Gaga…who where sexy and game-changing breaking the mold…you are just porno-level ronchy. NOT cute – NOT a rile model – NOT a game changer (for any good movement for women) – Your discraceful. You are the spokes-woman for everything that has gone wrong in the rearing of our children in this country. Shame on you!

  14. Bromp says:

    I’m not a TV critic, but I 100% feel the exact opposite way of how you reviewed this episode. The squad was not good at all. And was probably the worst of the episode. The political skits were somewhat funny. And I thought the final kyle and Miley skit was the funniest of the episode. It was supposed to go fast and feel rushed together to make it funny and it worked. Kyle usually does a pretty good job of making things work with his acting, even when the sketch feels a little out of sort. I thought it was the best skit. Also Leslie Jones did really good.

    • E. Stevens says:

      Thank you! You remember “Circus” short from The Rock’s episode last season? Still on my DVR.. Hilarious!

      And I agree with you completely!

  15. Ron says:

    I tend to not watch SNL much anymore because I just don’t find it funny like I did in the past. But I always give the first (and last) episode a watch, and if someone I like is hosting. Being the first of the season, I checked it out. Honestly, obviously this is just my opinion, but I really thought one of the funniest performers of the night was the actual Hillary Clinton. All I’m saying is, it’s probably not a good sign for a sketch comedy show and its writers/performers when a politician known for being rather uptight and rigid is funnier than most of your actual cast of actors and comedians…

  16. Luis says:

    All hail Leslie Jones!!!!

    • dan says:

      I didn’t like Leslie’s Update bit or the Katz deli skit, but thought she did a good job with the talk show sketch at the end (and it was nice to see Jay and Sasheer in a live sketch). The new guy got more screen time than most of the full cast members. Didn’t like Kyle’s Pope bit during Update (which was worse than usual except for the young guy who’s name I can’t remember). Very inconsistent premiere.

  17. Luis says:

    Hillary sketch was great, with a welcome drop-in from Darrell Hammond

  18. Mr. Tran K says:

    I give the season premiere of SNL a C. Still can’t stand Kyle Mooney depending on how bad he really is during sketches. The new guy Jon Rudnitsky did OK in his first show but Hillary Clinton really stole one for the team between her on Kate McKinnon in a unforgettable moment.

  19. shkamidit says:

    Weekend Update was so disappointing this week. Colin Jost has got to go, and I’m so tired of Leslie and Pete’s shtick.

    (And this is coming from someone who still loves SNL and isn’t on the “it’s not funny anymore!” train…)

  20. Abe Froman says:

    Is it just me, or is Leslie Jones trying way too hard to be a female Tracy Morgan?

  21. leigh says:

    The entire episode was very lame. I don’t feel anyone lived up to their potential. If this is how Season 41 is going to go, it is going to be a very long, boring season.

  22. Lillian says:

    I haven’t watched SNL in awhile, but like the other poster, I like to give the first one of the season a try. I DVR it, so I can fast forward through commercials and parts of the show that I don’t like. I didn’t do much of that last night. I wish they hadn’t used Valley Girl, or whatever accent they were using for The Millenials, it felt distracting – especially when I couldn’t catch everything they said. I’ve seen this sort of attitude in the workplace, not as extreme, of course, but it was familiar. I liked MC’s voice in the opening monologue, and the entire montage of the summer’s (hopefully) has-beens was great. Thought the Pope bit was bad, had to FF through it. All in all, I liked most of it. Also disappointed with the Sanders dissing as well.

  23. E. Stevens says:

    I’m honestly pretty easy on SNL, in general. I understand how difficult it is to be funny and inventive while remaining current and smart. But that episode had me, my fiancé and two other couples shaking our heads and looking at each other with confusion. I consider it the weakest episode I’ve seen in the past 2 years. That wasn’t Miley’s fault, although her musical performances made me sad at how songwriting and talent has taken a backseat to image in such a large scale. She is one of the most untalented, uninteresting people in show business. Her attempt at “odd” or “strange” comes off so fake, it makes me wonder if there’s anyone in her life that is honest with her. If you’re going to sing, please sing other people’s songs. Her lyrics play like a 12-year-old’s poetry attempt. But I digress..

    I like this cast.. I really do. The “Abilify” commercial was great, the Hillary spot was ok, the Taylor Swift Squad trailer ok and Mooney’s married skit was, we all thought, the funniest thing all night. Can’t believe anyone thought “The Millinneals” was watchable. And though I loved Jost and Che on “Update” all season last year, even it was almost unwatchable. In all, the whole episode was horrible. We felt so let down.

    Here’s to hoping it gets better!!!!

  24. Alaia says:

    Based on the description, I thought The Millennials would be funnier. I’d say that I hope they don’t do it again, but even if they do, the chances of me watching SNL are practically nil at this point.

  25. HTGR says:

    Yeah good point those bringing up the Abilify spot, gotta remove The Squad from the tops pick above and replace it with that one for sure.