This week, we begin with a mailing of the second presidential debate “Praise Jesus, last”. Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin) tries to play it nice in praising moderator Kristen Welker (Maya Rudolph), though he’s his usual off-balance when he directs personal attacks and crazy lies against Joe Biden (Jim Carrey), who has struggling to keep his cool.
Right off the bat, the sketch is riddled with awkward pauses, missed clues, and wasted lines – a frustrated Carrey exclaims “Shit! – and it quickly turns into an assault between the guest stars (Carrey’s rubber-faced cartoon captures almost none of the specifics of the real Biden, serving instead as a pure ego trip). Towards a weak end, this is the worst cold election opening so far, which really says something.
Adele anime for the first time, explaining how her 2008 performance on the show was the catalyst for her breakthrough in America. She directly thanks Sarah Palin. She then addresses the confusion as to why she is not fulfilling the double duty as host and musical guest – “I’d rather put on a wig, have a glass of wine or six and see it happen.” – the tabloids’ obsession with his weight loss and his penchant for cursing when he’s nervous. There’s little humor, but Adele comes across as laid back, which is a nice change of pace from a few noticeably nervous hosts.
The first sketch takes place in 2019 and sees a group of friends visit a fortune teller, Kate McKinnon, who relays blurry visions of hell that is 2020, which no one can fathom. (She says to one of them, “In 2020 you are doing something so terrible that none of your friends will talk to you anymore… you eat in a restaurant!”) The best sketch of the season to date it really sticks the landing with a final reveal that one of the friends is Jeffrey Toobin’s daughter.
A new sketch of Chad finds the laconic slacker Pete Davidson visiting a haunted house and being confronted by a restless ghost, who tries to confide in him about his murder but accidentally kills him. It’s light even by Chadian standards, but Adele handles it well like the spirit.
On a new season of The Bachelor, Adele is a contender. In search of love after a series of public heartaches, she refuses to calm down emotionally, taking to singing on the drop of a hat, much to the chagrin of the bachelor and the other contestants. It’s a mostly lazy excuse for Adele to strap on some of her hits, but it’s hard to complain since she gives him everything.
A campaign ad for Trump Addicts of America sees Biden voters admitting their fear of a post-Trump world: “My whole personality hates Donald Trump. If he’s gone, what am I supposed to do? Talk to my kids? The premise is solid, as previously apolitical anti-Trump certainly deserve to be ridiculed, but SNL is absolutely in no position to judge. It is impossible not to think, “The lady protests too much. “
The musical guest of the evening is ELLE, who performs moving Damage. On the weekend’s update, Colin Jost compares Biden’s performance in the debate to Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, a much-remembered trip to the 20-yard line earlier this week (a comparison that doesn’t seem to confirm instant post-debate polls, but whatever). In another part of SNL’s patent bilaterism, Jost bemoans the age of the two candidates: “This election is the equivalent of a baseball team giving Willie Mays NOW a four-year contract.”
Melissa Villasenor joins the office to talk about her summer quarantine. She oddly rolls through a number of random impressions – Little Rascals, Zelda’s Link, Stevie Nicks, and Sia. Then after another solid dig at Toobin, this time courtesy of Michael Che – “He’s from the New Yorker, so you know that jerk was dry as hell!” – they welcome the Village People, who respond to Trump’s music at his gatherings by singing “Cease and Desist” to the YMCA tune.
Next, Rudolph plays a grandmother who has visited her grandchildren. They try to calm their struggles with work, money and marriage with millennial jargon, but its constant refrain of “WHA?” breaks them down until they are forced to broadcast their failures in the most basic terms: “We had a threesome and he liked the other girl more!” It’s good to see Rudolph playing a purely silly character again.
A post from Africa’s tourism board sees Adele and McKinnon playing horny divorcees for “tribesmen.” It’s a bit problematic – let’s see if it causes the same scandal Bill Burr had for calling out white women a few weeks ago – but it’s hard to focus on anything other than Adele’s full-bodied breakup. Then HER takes the stage for a performance of Hold On, taking a break from vocals for a solid guitar solo.
The final sketch sees Adele and Rudolph in an advertisement for Ass Angel Perfume Jeans – women’s jeans that use a dangerous amount of chemicals to cover up embarrassing “lady smells”. It hits all the beats of a modern prescription drug ad, albeit set in the ’80s. This strikes me as indicative of one of the major problems of today’s SNL – half-decent ideas fail. not to land because writers can’t commit to a basic principle.
This episode was roughly tied with the last three, although it did contain a few extra laughs. SHE put in a very good performance and Adele held on, except for the break in the penultimate sketch. Luckily we’ll just have to survive a few more times of the election opening, though we can only pray that a Biden victory won’t lead Carrey to stay the way Baldwin did.