Leaves are changing, pumpkin spice lattes are brewing and “Saturday Night Live” is back on NBC— it must be Fall. The Emmy-winning show premiered its 43rd season on Saturday, September 30th, returning after a politically charged Fall/Spring 2016 season; having gained sharp criticisms from the president of the United States in Tweet form and having some of its best ratings in 20 years.
The show kicked off with host Ryan Gosling and musical guest Jay-Z. Opening with a Trump skit titled “The Chaos President Cold Open,” Alec Baldwin returned as Donald Trump, with Sarah Huckabee Sanders played by Aidy Bryant. The two recapped the events of the past few weeks, including the lack of response for Hurricane Maria’s impact on Puerto Rico, the NFL kneeling debate, along with secret meetings Trump has with Chuck Schumer.
After Bryant expressed her regret for saying NFL protests were “a black-and-white issue,” when instead, she meant to say “it’s a black-versus-white issue,” Baldwin chimed in by comparing himself to an NFL player, stating “I’’m combative, I like to win, and I might have a degenerative brain disease.” The jabs at Trump didn’t stop there, as SNL tackled the Puerto Rico situation, apologizing for the “Despacito” relief response, in reference to the hit Latin American song, adding that the island “should’ve signed up for FEMA Prime for faster service.”
Although Gosling has won the title of Canada’s sweetheart by many, his monologue during the SNL premiere fell short. Gosling, who was there to advertise his upcoming movie “Blade Runner 2049,” couldn’t seem to stop talking about his previous film, “La La Land” and how he, a white Canadian man, single handedly saved jazz. Although satirical, his words felt worn out, because the movie has been talked to death.
In his first performance of the night, musical guest Jay-Z performed “Bam,” a track of his new album
“4:44,” alongside reggae artist Damien Marley. No stranger to controversy, the rapper wore a custom made Colin Kapernick jersey with the football player’s number emblazoned on it in support of the #TakeAKnee movement. He also performed “4:44,” another new single, on an empty stage, which intensified the emotional nature of the track.
“Weekend Update” hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che came back with another segment of jabs to the Trump administrative, bringing a serious manner towards the situation in Puerto Rico. After telling the president to “do what you just did for white people twice,” Che continued to exhibit his disapproval with the administration’s slow relief efforts.
The funniest sketch of the evening was one titled “Papyrus,” starring Gosling, in a fervent exploration into the decision to make the font “Papyrus” the “Avatar” title font. Incredulous as to why a multi million dollar movie would have the same font as “hookah bars, Shakira merch and off-brand tees,” Gosling’s character became extremely troubled with Avatar’s logo, along with everyone’s lack of interest. Although Gosling, through the whole show, had been breaking out of character into giggles, he looked as if he was at home with the obsessive, hilarious sketch. And once again, he showed his true talents of being able to act dramatically in the rain.
Nonetheless SNL’s premiere had some strong sketches, however it also had its flaws, in sketches such as “Dive Bar” and “Guy Who Bought A Boat.” Gosling, although he won hearts in movies such as “The Notebook” and “Hey Girl” memes, might have not been the ideal choice to host the premiere, as he lacked the enthusiasm to welcome the show’s return, failing to meet viewers expectations. After a great past season, with memorable sketches, jokes, impersonations and political satire, the season premiere of SNL just doesn’t quite live up to the buzz the show has been receiving.