Last night (October 1) marked the 42nd season premiere of Saturday Night Live, hosted by actress Margot Robbie with musical guest The Weeknd. Robbie performed well in her first time as host, fresh off her star turn as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, while The Weeknd performed his two new singles "Starboy" and "False Alarm" and stopped by the Weekend Update desk to give a new edition of, naturally, "The Weeknd Update."
However, the story of the night was SNL's much-anticipated return to the political fray for the presidential election race, led by Alec Baldwin playing Donald Trump.
Baldwin gave an admirable performance as Trump, though, at this stage of the election, it's hard to find any angle on Trump that hasn't already been explored. It's also tough to watch Baldwin and not think about Darrell Hammond's brilliant impression or Anthony Atamanuik's unhinged take he took on the road (with James Adomian as Bernie Sanders) earlier this year. Most of all, Baldwin just looks like he's making a "Trump face" more than doing a Trump impression. But ultimately, the sketch delivered, anchored by Emmy-winner Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton and an assist from Weekend Update host Michael Che as Lester Holt.
Kate McKinnon is officially SNL's biggest star, receiving a massive pop from the audience upon her Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory–inspired entrance, stealing the sketch with just her facial expressions. The night's biggest applause came after Baldwin-as-Trump gives a rambling, incoherent answer to his first question ("Gina!") and McKinnon-as-Clinton simply replies, "I think I'm going to be president."
Here are some of the episode's other highlights:
Leslie Jones hires fsociety
SNL aired a pitch-perfect Mr. Robot sketch in their 10-to-1 spot, where Pete Davidson (as Elliot Alderson) gets a request from a new client: the show's own Leslie Jones, playing herself.
It was a tumultuous summer for Leslie Jones, to say the least. She played a starring role in this summer's Ghostbusters reboot (along with castmate Kate McKinnon) and was invited to the Rio Olympics for her passionate fandom. She also received unacceptable abuse from racist trolls online and had her private pictures leaked on her personal website. But Leslie Jones happens to be one of the funniest people alive, and she's managed to turn her incredibly difficult situation into something hilarious.
She joins Elliot on the hunt for the people who hacked her photos, spending time inside his hacker collective fsociety, and she's even able to see the imaginary Mr. Robot — who, of course, she proceeds to sexually harass.
Jones, like McKinnon, got some of the biggest audience cheers of the night. They were well deserved.
Family Feud, political edition
The Family Feud sketches are platforms for a large number of impressions and tend to be unbalanced by the sheer length of the introductions (as pointed out by Larry David, returning as Bernie Sanders). But even if the sketch's pacing feels a bit off, keeping it from the heights of "Celebrity Jeopardy," it's still a great way to see some of SNL's best impressions that may not fit anywhere else.
In addition to David's Bernie Sanders and other regular SNL impressions, including Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton and Bobby Moynihan as Chris Christie, Kate McKinnon performed a scathing 'inside baseball' impression of Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, while Beck Bennett contributed an extremely funny impression of Vladimir Putin. (Also making her debut was one of SNL's newest castmembers Melissa Villasenor, playing Sarah Silverman, and I'd be remiss not to mention Cecily Strong's ridiculous impression of next week's host, Lin-Manuel Miranda.)
Kenan Thompson, the master of stunned disbelief, is a TV journalist sent to report on a sinkhole that opened up in a parking lot in Florida, only to be distracted by his eyewitnesses, played by Margot Robbie and newcomer Alex Moffat, her jobless, Croc-wearing husband.
Whenever SNL has an attractive woman as a host, they have a habit of writing several sketches revolving around the woman's hotness. Even though this has resulted in a couple good sketches (notably, Lindsay Lohan's supremely dirty Harry Potter sketch), they always feel a bit uncomfortable, often capped by the host just standing there while everyone else reacts. So it's a good thing that this sketch was still pretty funny, improving as more members of the news team weigh in. And, thankfully, Margot Robbie had opportunities to do some different things throughout the rest of the show.
Yes, this was another sketch revolving around Robbie's looks, but this one, where a teen boy (Bobby Moynihan) pines over an attractive librarian, quickly goes off the rails. Beginning as an '80s teen comedy send-up (complete with Yello's "Oh Yeah" from Ferris Bueller's Day Off), it's clearly apparent that something is wrong with this particular librarian, as she takes out her false teeth and begins to chow down on banana peels. It's reminiscent of Kristen Wiig's sexpot character Shana, but it's insane enough to sell the premise.