SNL Ranked: Scarlett Johansson Can’t Kick the Backside of This Episode Into Shape
Scarlett Johansson is probably the most interesting actress working right now — the reigning queen of sci-fi and ass-kicking Black Widow has smartly strayed from comedies in recent years, but let’s not forget that she’s got some genuine comedic chops. After all, this is the third time the actress has hosted SNL, and I kept my fingers crossed for the return of Fred Armisen for another hilarious Mike sketch. Did Johansson and SNL make my dreams come true? (Spoiler: No.) The episode is top heavy with comedy, but stumbles in the back-half, which is unfortunate given Johansson’s previous stints on the show. Read on for this week’s SNL sketch rankings.
Black Widow Trailer (Johansson, Ensemble)
Holy sh—. SNL always nails it with these movie trailer satires, but Christ on a cracker, this one is absolutely brilliant. Addressing fan complaints (mine included) about the absence of a Black Widow movie, we get the promise that Marvel knows women, and the proof is this stereotypical Black Widow solo film, hitting all the rom-com cliches. She falls in love with the wrong guy (Ultron), she’s so distracted she acts ditzy, he screws her over and apologizes, she gets a dream job, she falls in love with the guy who was right in front of her all along, et al. It’s all girly and dumb and shallow and exactly the kind of Black Widow movie we’re scared might get made, completely dismissing her badass-ness in favor of cliche female storytelling.
Bless you, SNL. You are truly superheroes.
Orioles (Bayer, Killam, Thompson, Moynihan, Johansson, Bennett, Pharoah)
This is how you take serious news and make something funny out of it, which SNL isn’t always able to pull off, but when they do, it yields results like this one. Poking fun at the empty baseball game amid the Baltimore riots this past week, Thompson and Killam play sportscasters enthusiastically stumbling their way through poorly-worded copy (“Throw a brick! Start a fire!”), while Johansson aids as a field reporter, reporting…not much, because there’s no one there. Moynihan’s lonely hot dog vendor is the absolute highlight
Mayweather-Pacquiao Cold Open (Killam, Thompson, Pharoah, Bryant, McKinnon)
This boxing match thing is a pretty big deal, from what I understand. It’s good to see SNL poking fun at itself for its diversity issues via the advisory and Bryant’s inability to understand where the Philippines are. Thankfully, they kept this brief enough, punching (ha) it up with a cameo by McKinnon’s Justin Bieber — Bieber isn’t very cute, but McKinnon’s Bieber is oddly kind of hot.
Weekend Update (Jost, Che, McKinnon, Moynihan, Bayer)
This thing doesn’t really light up until McKinnon’s too-cool-for-school Ruth Bader Gisnburg (who is fine, just fine) leaves and Jost awkwardly attempts to tell jokes about Bruce Jenner — which, you kind of can’t. Che loses it right before he delivers an even better punchline, which leads to Moynihan and Bayer showing up as Samwell and Gilly, the hottest couple from Game of Thrones. Clearly they’ve been doing their homework because both of them deliver near-perfect impressions, complete with all the requisite facial tics. And then Thompson and Pharoah show up to do their Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal thing, which is always goofy, but ultimately fine.
Scarlett Johansson Monologue (Johansson, Killam, Thompson)
Although this is, what, the fourth music-centric monologue in a row, Johansson kills it. As a MILF (Mom In Lots of Movies), she plays up her sex appeal in her version of a “lullaby” because Johansson is sexy even when she sings her new baby to sleep. Shoehorning her sexuality into something like motherhood is a smart joke, one that plays on our notions that women must be attractive and sensual AT. ALL. TIMES. Killam’s horrified reactions are particularly priceless. P.S. Johansson’s hair is amazing. Seriously.
Blazer (Killam, Pharoah, Khalifa, Thompson, Bennett, Moynihan)
Acting in response to what’s happening in Baltimore, Blazer is a cool white dude cop who…only attacks black people. Like, goes out of his way to do so. And then he edits all the footage together from his partner’s body cam to make an ‘80s/early ‘90s-style TV show, idolizing himself. On the surface, this is a silly sketch that acts upon an agreeable premise (police brutality is awful), but like its revealing gimmick, it’s got some layers. It’s hard to make this subject matter funny right now, but they do what they can and the results are decently humorous. That pratfall tag is great, though.
Right Side of the Bed With Scarlett Johansson (Strong, Killam, Johansson, McKinnon)
Points for the Bump-It joke (remember those?!) and for employing Johansson’s hilariously wacky Fran Drescher-esque Jersey accent (“She sounds like a talking pizza”), but I wish I loved these characters more. The concept is solid enough, with Strong’s bawdy southern host against Killam as her obviously gay husband, which she is either oblivious to or chooses to ignore. Johansson is just kind of an accessory in this one, as Strong and Killam run the whole sketch. I guess Johansson’s Jersey girl in this is the closest I’m getting to seeing her play Mike’s daughter again.
Jingle Writers (Johansson, Killam, Mooney, Bryant, McKinnon)
Man, this has really been Killam’s show tonight, almost as if he should have hosted the thing himself, huh? Johansson and Bryant are great and goofy as two earth mother types who write commercial jingles, but they’re all fiercely dramatic and despairing desert tunes. It’s their facial expressions that do the trick, but it bums me out that the episode ends on this sketch, missing an opportunity to do the Former Porn Stars instead (Johansson would have ruled in one of those).
Girlfriends Talk Show With Scarlett Johansson (Bryant, Strong, Johansson)
I am probably one of the only fans of Girlfriends Talk Show, but I can’t defend this one too much. It’s always Bryant’s sketch, with her uncool but very endearing social ineptitude, and while “Basic B” got a big laugh from me, it wasn’t enough to salvage this one, sadly. Maybe next time, ladies.
Virgin Flight (Davidson, Killam, Bayer, Johansson, Moynihan, Bryant, Jones)
Hey, here’s something relatable: when you talk to one of those automated customer service things, and it never hears your response or always misunderstands your request, almost like it’s purposefully created to torture you. Same concept goes here, but with lifelike robot flight attendants (Bayer and Johansson) who wreak havoc in first class. And oh, hey, there’s Leslie Jones for the first time tonight. This is straight-up silly, but I like the realism of Killam’s pilot constantly telling corny jokes. Every pilot thinks he’s a comedian.
Dino Bones (Killam, Johansson, Strong, Thompson, Davidson, Bayer)
This is basically like if Romy and Michele tried to pass themselves off as studious types, but their glasses and conservative home-schooled looks can’t hide their airheaded pondering about fake turds and dino skeletons. It’s kind of a head-scratcher of a sketch — they’re annoying because they keep saying everything is “random,” which is supposed to be funny? But it’s just kind of not?
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