Saturday Night Live bid adieu to 2020 and marked the end of Trump’s presidency during Kristen Wiig‘s homecoming.
The Christmas show largely avoided Trump, but set aside a couple of minutes to run through some of POTUS’ “greatest moments” during Weekend Update. (Colin Jost confirmed this is the last episode before Trump leaves office, so SNL is looking at a five-week break.) Beck Bennett’s Mike Pence made an appearance in the cold open (alongside fellow Trump cronies Rudy Giuliani and Ben Carson), but the sketch was used to introduce Alex Moffat as incoming president Joe Biden. (The skit aired just hours after former portrayer Jim Carrey tweeted his formal resignation.)
After the cold open, Wiig kicked off her third hosting stint (her fourth if you count last spring’s SNL at Home finale) with the help of Kate McKinnon and Kamala Harris impersonator Maya Rudolph, all of whom shared some of their “Favorite Things” during a reworked version of a Sound of Music classic. What followed was a parody of a certain critically derided limited series (featuring some of Ego Nwodim’s best sketch work of the season), a plethora of holiday-themed sketches (including a “deleted scene” from Home Alone 2 and yet another bad take on Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch), and the return of not one, but two of Wiig’s most well-known characters — neither of which would have surprised Aunt Sue.
What sketches stood out this week? And what missed the mark? Grade Wiig’s episode, then scroll down for all the highlights and lowlights.
BEST: A Teacher
Nwodim stole the show as Ms. Williams, the no-nonsense educator who was having none of what her horned-up student (played by Andrew Dismukes) was proposing in this FX on Hulu parody.
“You’re pulling a ‘C-‘ in my class. That’s not hot for me,” she told him, point blank. “You can barely read.”
The digital short featuring Wiig as the forgotten mother on Christmas morning was also pretty great.
HONORABLE MENTION (tie): Secret Word and Aunt Sue
Wiig had soooooo many recurring characters during her seven seasons, which begs the question: Why did she bring back the same two characters — Secret Word contestant Mindy Elise Grayson, and the perpetually surprised Aunt Sue — she brought back the last time she hosted a proper episode, in 2016? Both sketches suffered from diminishing returns. (Plus, I couldn’t help but think how fun it would have been to see how Target Lady’s holding up during the pandemic.)
BEST OF WEEKEND UPDATE: Christmas Joke Swap 2020
Chris Redd, Kenan Thompson and Heidi Gardner’s desk pieces (as Motown singer Smokey Robinson, Michael Che’s next-door neighbor Willie and Instagram influencer Landis Trotter, respectively) couldn’t compete with the anchors’ semi-annual tradition of swapping jokes on air — and the best was saved for last.
“It was announced that Creed singer Scott Stapp will play Frank Sinatra in an upcoming movie,” Jost read aloud. “But the good news is Sammy Davis Jr. will be played by Scarlett Johansson.”
WORST SKETCH: The Grinch
Whereas the Home Alone 2 sketch at least had the surprise bludgeoning of the Wet Bandits, this piss-poor continuation of Dr. Seuss’ holiday classic offered little more than a barrage of obvious sex jokes. (Pete Davidson’s turn as The Mean One wasn’t quite as embarrassing as Matthew Morrison’s recent turn, but it was still pretty bad.)
MUSICAL GUEST: Dua Lipa
After holding her own opposite Wiig and Bowen Yang in the “U.S.O. Performance” sketch, Dua Lipa hit the stage with one of 2020’s biggest hits, “Don’t Start Now” (embedded above). That was followed by a second song, “Levitating” (which you can watch here).