As much as I like Melissa McCarthy—and I do like her quite a bit—I find that her appearances on Saturday Night Live accentuate her weaknesses. Ever since Bridesmaids, she’s really only played rage-filled characters with too much confidence or weirdos with too much confidence. Sure these characters can work, but seeing so many of them all at once—some with even the same characteristics—made an episode that focused on McCarthy seem a bit weaker than it should’ve been.
The show started with a Super Bowl skit, since the show won’t be back until March, where Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are unable to make the game, so they are replaced with the best of Broadway. It’s quite a big production for the cold open, and McCarthy is pretty great as an Auntie Mame (I believe?) substitute.
McCarthy’s monologue involved her wire fighting with Bobby Moynihan, since she said she would kick his ass after being a diva during the last time she hosted. The best part of it all is watching McCarthy being a diva, not flying around in the air and tossing throwing stars.
This week’s episode nailed their prerecorded bits. The first of the night was an ad for CVS, the place where you can get some dumb little thing for your girlfriend, like a mylar balloon that sings “Mambo #5” or G-rated sex dice. Aidy Bryant stating “you have hurt me today” after received a discount Christmas stocking from her boyfriend might have been the greatest line of the night.
We then went to a Delaware news bit with McCarthy playing Congressman Sheila Kelly, who following in Rep. Grimm’s furious footsteps, goes on a string of threatening people as they film her doing awful things. The skit has a nice flow where it keeps going when you think it should end and builds to a pretty entertaining conclusion.
A skit at a women’s group where McCarthy swears she will avenge the death of her father works because it’s McCarthy being restrained, even though her rage is clearly seething. It’s not her running around and being violent, but the same effect is achieved.
But then we get the insane McCarthy. In a gameshow called Guess That Phrase!, McCarthy plays Kathleen, an unemployed crazy person who answers most questions “Pass the Mash!” Her confusion is funny, but mostly because of host Beck Bennett’s frustration with her.
Another killer recorded bit had Kenan Thompson, Jay Pharaoh and Sasheer Zamata singing a cute rap at school about Black History Month before shaming the entirely white class over slavery. Moynihan’s attempt to fix the situation with his own rap is by far one of the most awkward and hilarious things this episode.
Then comes musical guest Imagine Dragons, who just from their name alone, I don’t like. (Imagine Dragons? Really? What’s next? Thinking ’Bout Warlocks? Thank you. Thank you.) But man, after performing at the Grammys with Kendrick Lamar, I respect them far more. So what a nice surprise when during “Radioactive,” Lamar appears out of nowhere to do his verse off the new remix. If Imagine Dragons can just throw Lamar into every song, maybe I’ll like them more, since their second song left me expectedly underwhelmed.
Weekend Update was understandably great, since it’s Seth Meyers’ last show. Amy Poehler and Stefon came back guys! I love that they set up that Stefon now has a rivalry with Cecily Strong and didn’t try to outdo Bill Hader’s unbeatable farewell. Andy Samberg shows up to sing Boyz II Men, everyone gets a bit choked up and Fred Armisen walks by the camera as Gov. Paterson, so it’s quite a nice send off. Colin Jost will be taking the desk next, I assume in March. I’m sure he’ll be great since every head writer-turned-Update host ends up doing a fine job, but I’m still sort of hurt Mike O’Brien won’t be behind the desk. Have they seen 7 Minutes In Heaven? The guy can do an amazing interview.
The last third of the night was one McCarthy wacko after another. First as a person trying to hook up Internet at a museum. Then Girlfriends Talk Show, which is getting quite old at this point and pretty much follows the same script, yet doesn’t have the same flexibility as Drunk Uncle or the former pornstars. Then there’s an intriguing skit with Moynihan reminiscing about his Summer of Diane. It turns out Diane is basically a crazy woman who sat next to him on a bench and ate ribs. She even whacks at imaginary things around her head, the same characteristic her Kathleen character from not even an hour before had.
The episode ended incredibly strong with one of Kyle Mooney’s best bits so far. Mooney nervously goes around and mumbles questions to people around Time Square about the Super Bowl. His reactions and the reactions to the people he talks to show that SNL should get out of the studio and interact with real people more often.
McCarthy can be great on SNL in moderation, yet when we see a variety of, at times, indistinguishable weirdos, the flaws start to appear. I wish there was more experimentation with her, rather than putting her in this box, but it all wears thin after awhile.