It’s beginning to look a lot like a COVID-ravaged Christmas on Saturday Night Live, which used this most unconventional holiday season as the basis for multiple skits headlined by Jason Bateman.
The first episode back after a four-week break saw the Ozark star costumed as jolly ol’ Saint Nick in not one, but two sketches — first as the real Kris Kringle in a spot-on parody of an old music video, then as a struggling actor employed as a mall Santa, opposite Cecily Strong’s Mrs. Claus.
Strong was a sight for sore eyes this week. After missing out on much of the fall season to film a new TV show for Apple, she was front and center for much of the episode, including a cold open that parodied Rudy Giuliani’s un-credible witness, Melissa Carone, and another sketch that saw her channel her inner Liza Minnelli.
The third-to-last outing of 2020 also acknowledged the circumstances that led to Morgan Wallen’s delayed turn as musical guest, and saw the return of one of Heidi Gardner’s best Weekend Update characters.
What sketches stood out this week? And what missed the mark? Grade Bateman’s episode, then scroll down for all the highlights and lowlights.
BEST SKETCH: The Christmas Conversation
This timely digital short — in which three women (Lauren Holt, Ego Nwodim and Chloe Fineman) called their mothers (Heidi Garner, Punkie Johnson and Kate McKinnon) to say that they wouldn’t be home for the holidays this year, due to the pandemic — was easily the best thing of the night. The passive-aggressive responses offered by their ‘rents — which ranged from “If you don’t love me, Marie, just say so!” to “Think about your dead mother!” — were so utterly ridiculous, you had to laugh.
HONORABLE MENTION: Stu
Pete Davidson’s spot-on parody of the music video for “Stan” (complete with a cameo by the Real Slim Shady himself) also recreated Eminem’s 2001 Grammys performance. Bowen Yang stole the show as Elton John.
WORST SKETCH: Santa's Village
Bateman and Strong gave this lackluster skit their all, which saw Mall Santa and Mrs. Claus lose their balance in giant plastic bubbles meant to protect them from COVID. (There’s no way Cecily meant to run over Mikey Day, right? That looked like it hurt!)
BEST OF WEEKEND UPDATE: Bailey Gismert
I’m not sure what I enjoyed more: the teen movie critic’s bewilderment with Tom Hanks — who she only knew from the David S. Pumpkins sketch — “doing the voice and everything” in Forrest Gump, or her infatuation with serial killer Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs. (Also great: Gismert telling Michael Che that he’s rarely in sketches, so he “barely works.”)
MUSICAL GUEST: Morgan Wallen
Wallen, who was originally set to perform in October before he violated COVID protocols, allowed himself to be the butt of the joke in this amusing, Christmas Carol-esque sketch that cast Bateman and Yang as near-future versions of the country star. He then went on to perform the songs “7 Summers” and “Still Goin Down” (which you can watch here and here.)