Lindsay Lohan’s ‘SNL’ Comeback Gets Mixed Reviews

Lohan scored early laughs as host but 'Saturday Night Live' castmembers did heavy comedic lifting.

Following a week of self-deprecating promos and a cold open starring Jason Sudeikis as Mitt Romney and Andy Samberg as Kid Rock, Lindsay Lohan‘s monologue dove right on top of the white elephant inside New York’s Studio 8H: her troubles. And while the crowd (and cast) was clearly supportive at the top of the show, the evening’s sketches featured “SNL” regulars doing the comedic heavy lifting. Lohan’s lines were noticeably few. When she did speak, she clearly read from cue cards.

But the monologue was a great start. Clad in a form fitting blue dress with a leggy slit, she began: “I feel lucky and grateful to be here tonight and that’s why I really want to thank all of my friends at ‘SNL’ who trusted me enough to have me back. This studio feels like home to me,” then suddenly, a mock “house arrest” style alarm sounded when she started to move.

“Wait, so the alarm goes off if I leave the stage? I thought it was if I left the studio!” she said, to supportive laughs.

Keenan Thompson was soon by her side, pretending to check her eyes for dilation. Lohan said she could just as easily be checking him, to which he replied, “Oh, I’ll save you the trouble! I’ve been stoned since ‘Good Burger!’ ” Kristen Wiig was out next. “I do get the feeling that everybody thinks I’m going to screw something up,” Lohan told the “Bridesmaids” star.

“Everybody believes in you,” Wiig said. “We wouldn’t have you back otherwise.” The audience applauded those lines pretty loudly. Then Wiig immediately pretended to pat the host down, jokingly explaining, “I’m a lesbian now.”

“Been there done that,” Lohan replied.

As expected, following Lohan’s invitation on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” on Thursday, Fallon made a short, supportive appearance. “The new / old Lindsay Lohan is back!” the “SNL” veteran declared. “Are you sure?” she asked sheepishly.

“You’re the same little girl who stole our hearts in ‘The Parent Trap,’ you’re the teenager who dazzled us in ‘Mean Girls,’ ” he said, all to loud cheers. “You’re the lady who absolutely blew us away in ‘The Help.’ ” The last line, of course, was a reference to Emma Stone, who played a dazed and confused Lohan in a 2010 “SNL” sketch.

“You can do this,” he added. “And if for any reason you can’t, Jon Hamm is on standby as backup host.” Sure enough, the “Mad Men” star (who was in “Bridesmaids,” and had a recurring role on “30 Rock,” as well) was right there in the audience.

While Hamm never stepped in to take over, the early consensus online was that Lohan was given noticeably little to do and relied heavily on cue cards and / or teleprompters. To be fair, the long-running iconic show is famously rewritten and rehearsed until the eleventh hour and many hosts (and castmembers) often read cue cards.

The studio crowd seemed to want to support her, but Twitter users were much less forgiving. “This may be the first time Lindsay Lohan had trouble doing lines,” @DrunkEnough said.

“The paddling to Comeback Island would be more believable if Lohan didn’t need a teleprompter to remember the plots of her own movies,” tweeted @Shinangovani.

A “Real Housewives of Disney” sketch, during which Lohan threw a mean right cross as a Rapunzel who knowingly wasn’t much different than Lohan’s own public persona, mostly killed. But it was followed by a flat “2012 Psychic Awards” bit opposite Andy Samberg where her reliance on off-camera lines became extremely clear. Next, Hader, Andy Samberg, Bobby Moynihan and Jason Sudeikis were in their usual roles in a “scared straight” sketch, where Thompson played the prison inmate whose stories are derived from famous movies and whose taunts are filled with increasingly vulgar sexual innuendo.

“My name is Lorenzo Macintosh,” Thompson said, with the show’s host beside him. “And I’m Lindsay Lohan,” she replied to much applause, scoring more points with self-deprecation. The “scared straight” sketch had more lines for Lohan than anything else in the episode. There were jokes about spending time in rehab in Malibu and a reference to “Herbie: Fully Loaded,” “Freaky Friday,” “The Parent Trap,” “Mean Girls” and the $2500 necklace she was accused of stealing from an L.A. jewelry store, a violation of her probation from a 2007 driving case. “If you ever think of stealing a diamond,” she warned the trio of young hooligans, “just remember: ‘every kiss begins with rape.’ ” She read all of the lines, flubbing some of them.

After Jack White’s first musical segment and a Lohan-less “Weekend Update,” the host returned as part of a group of ’50s style “delinquent teen girls” dancing in a busy street. Fred Armisen, in drag, was the focal point of the sketch. Lohan did more dancing than speaking (though she looked great in her extremely short shorts) and was absent from the night’s first digital short. As the show hit the hour mark, Lohan had appeared only three times since her opening monologue.

A sketch about a hip-hop morning radio show in Minnesota included Lohan as “our intern, illiterate Lisa.” Two castmembers played the show’s hosts and another castmember played the “news lady.” Lohan’s character briefly read some incorrect copy (she was “Illiterate Lisa,” after all) but the “SNL” trio handled all of the proverbial heavy lifting as the sketch went on. Next was a pharmaceutical commercial sketch featuring Wiig and Hader. Lindsay was once again nowhere to be found.

“East coasters, what’s happening on #SNL? Should I keep practicing and working hard at what I do, or is that not necessary any more?” tweeted Josh Groban.

“That awkward moment when you’re hosting #SNL but you aren’t the star of any of the sketches … ” tweeted user @chescaleigh.

“Lindsay Lohan hasn’t made me laugh yet,” chimed in culture commentator and New York Times best selling author Toure, also via Twitter. “Can we still replace her with Jon Hamm?”

Lohan had a little more to do in a sketch opposite Kristen Wiig, playing it straight to a neck brace-wearing Wiig’s wild antics. But it was clear that she was still reading all of her lines, even studying them during moments where Wiig was performing. The next sketch, a previously aired commercial spoof starring Hader and Armisen, marked yet another Lohan-less moment.

The last sketch of the evening was an ensemble bit with Andy Samberg as “Rude Buddha.” Lohan wasn’t required to do much more than ask, “Is there any way that you can help me reach nirvana?” She had been looking to “SNL” to kickstart a career comeback. Earlier in the week, she told Fallon she had begged producer Lorne Michaels to have her back on the show.

“Saturday Night Live” has played pivotal roles in Lindsay’s career since she was 17. Former “SNL” head writer and castmember Tina Fey wrote and co-starred in “Mean Girls,” which remains Lohan’s biggest hit aside from “Freaky Friday.” Lindsay made her “SNL” hosting debut the day after “Mean Girls” was released, guesting in a pair of, now classic, sketches.

She returned as a surprise guest during a “Weekend Update” segment in December of that year, under a fog of tabloid speculation about her weight loss, love life, medical problems and pop singer aspirations. Two years later, Lohan admitted to Vanity Fair that Fey and “Weekend Update” co-host Amy Poehler had sat her down and expressed concerns for her well being. “I just started bawling,” she told the magazine. “I knew I had a problem and I couldn’t admit it.”

In addition to the hard partying regularly followed by the paparazzi, Lohan has been cast and recast in movie projects (including one about ’70s porn star Linda Lovelace) and tangled with the law, including a situation where she was accused of theft after wearing an expensive necklace out of a Venice, California jewelry store. Four years after Lohan made her third hosting appearance on “SNL” in 2006, Emma Stone played her in a sketch that lampooned the young star’s problems.

On Thursday’s taped appearance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” Lohan publicly asked the ex-”SNL” castmember to drop by Studio 8H during the taping. Fallon also played a clip of the sketch that launched Rachel Dratch’s recurring “Debbie Downer” character back in 2004, the same year that “Mean Girls” (written by “SNL” veteran Tina Fey) was in theaters.

Fallon famously had trouble keeping a straight face during his time on “SNL” and the inaugural “Debbie Downer” sketch was one for the “breaking” record books. Fallon, Lohan, Amy Poehler, Horatio Sanz and Fred Armisen couldn’t stop laughing during Dratch’s dour one-liners. “I was trying to not to laugh,” Fallon recalled. “I know you were, but it made it worse,” noted Lohan.

In an interview with NBC’s “Today ,” also on Thursday (March 1), Lohan told host Matt Lauer that “I still need to go through the process of proving myself, with ‘SNL,’ being on time, keeping my … stuff together.” She also said she had gotten clearance from her legal team to address her recent troubles on the long-running sketch comedy show. She talked openly about staying clean and sober and called her time doing community service in Los Angeles “humbling” and “a learning experience.”

How do you think LiLo performed on “Saturday Night Live?” Share your thoughts and comments below.