With her muffin-touting, hardcore screamo antics and help from an all-star cast of “Saturday Night Live” alumnae, not to mention two solid performances from Jay-Z, Betty White helped “SNL” notch its best ratings in nearly two years.
According to figures provided by Nielsen, White gave the 35-year-old late-night staple its highest overnight numbers in more than 18 months, averaging an 8.8 rating, its biggest viewership since a November 1, 2008, show hosted by Ben Affleck that featured appearances by then Republican presidential nominee John McCain and Tina Fey as running mate Sarah Palin. Entertainment Weekly reported that “SNL” was up 66 percent in Nielsen-metered homes over the same night last year.
It helped that a who’s-who of “SNL” alums showed up to provide support for the 88-year-old showbiz legend whose suddenly-hot again status was cemented by a 500,000-member Facebook group that helped convince her to finally say yes to hosting the show after decades of declining invitations.
Among the famous faces reprising some of their most beloved sketches were Maya Rudolph (serving up some of her patented loopy Whitney Houston), Tina Fey and Amy Poehler back behind the “Weekend Update” anchor desk, Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon donning their frumpy wool sweaters for their NPR parody “Delicious Dish” and Rachel Dratch, who played a number of utility roles but whose appearance as her Debbie Downer character was, sadly, left on the cutting-room floor.
The show also featured a nearly 10-minute medley from Jay-Z , who was joined by his new artist Bridget Kelly for “Empire State of Mind” and later by Mr. Hudson for “Young Forever,” which the rapper dedicated to “the most incredible Betty White.”