At the best of times during this week's Saturday Night Live, the show just felt like any other ordinary mishap. The writing was mediocre, the jokes just didn't hit their mark and the ideas for a couple of sketches were bewilderingly odd. At the worst of times, the episode almost felt like a promotional campaign for its controversial candidate and host, Donald Trump.
The cast and writing staff made the Republican candidate seem as a likeable as they could while riffing on his massive ego and attacking his clan of adoring fans.
Even in scenes when they were attacking his politics and tearing apart his ludicrous antics — including his infamous rants on Twitter — the writers never went after Trump the same way they have other guests.
When democratic candidate Hillary Clinton made an appearance on an episode a couple of weeks ago, for example, the writers took more shots. Clinton’s stance on the Keystone Pipeline, her lack of decision making and her unapproachable demeanor were all brought up during her four minute performance while none of Trump’s stances were seriously challenged.
Yet here, despite an oblique crack calling Trump a racist, which was more about a news story than the candidate, it felt like the writers didn't want to anger Trump. But in not attacking Trump for the things he's said, Saturday Night Live has completely disassociated itself with the anti-establishment brand of comedy it founded itself on
Still, despite Trump's abysmal performance and the weakness of the show overall, it wasn't the worst episode that's aired in the past couple of years. Mostly because of the women of SNL, there were some legitimately funny moments that did make me laugh out loud, but unfortunately they were too few and far in between to make it anywhere near enjoyable.
Here is the official report card for Donald Trump's episode of SNL:
Best Trump Sketch: Live Tweeting
Harping on Donald Trump's weird and often times offensive tweeting, this was one of the few sketches that made me laugh.
Whether or not it was because Trump was off screen and focused on the actors purposely breaking character to call out the Republican candidate for his poor attitude or it was actually just funny is still unknown, the sketch worked.
Using digital "tweets" that would flash across the bottom of the screen while the cast was in the middle of a sketch, the insults were pretty spot on and the cast's reaction to Trump's hurtful words about each of them seemed to sum up perfectly how the majority of people feel when Trump goes on one of his tirades.
It was the best way the writers handled having Trump on the show and incorporating him into a sketch without having to actually give him time on-air.
Worst Trump Sketch: White House 2018
The first sketch of the night directly followed Trump's monologue. White House 2018 was supposed to be a riff on Trump's superego, examining just how "great" the country would be doing if he won the election.
Instead of exaggerating their acting and making sure the jokes were as over-the-top as they'd need to be for a sketch like this to work, it all fell flat, and almost felt like a brief endorsement for Trump. By the end of the sketch, they let Trump talk about how great he would be as President for a full minute, essentially letting him talk about his platform and himself in a way they couldn't even let Clinton work in.
Regardless of personal politics, if part of the reason Trump was allowed to host was because of equal air time, it seems pretty unfair to give him an actual promotional spot while just ripping on Clinton.
Best Sketch Overall: Bad Girls
Whenever the ladies of SNL get together to perform a musical parody, the results are always hilarious. Last night's episode proved to be no different.
Taking on MIA's "Bad Girls," the cast turned everyday moments — like leaving a carton of milk in the bread section at the grocery store — into rebellious acts, dancing around on a yacht in between every bad girl routine.
Like usual, the incredibly talented and under appreciated Aidy Bryant stole the show, but these women work so well together as an ensemble, it makes me wish the writers dedicated more time to giving them something to work with.
Instead, they're usually mixed in with other male lead actors, like Taran Killam or Bobby Moynihan, and the best jokes are given away. It was nice to see this digital sketch respond so well with the audience, and was truly one of the better sketches the show's had all season.
Worst Sketch Overall: Rock Band
SNL usually reserves the weirdest sketches until the end of the show because, aside from it being tradition, they're the ones the writers aren't sure will play well with the audience. Rock Band (in no way related to the game) is a perfect example.
The sketch focuses on Donald Trump being upset that he doesn't get enough time during his band's opening introductions to show off his cool laser instrument. On top of Trump just not having any comedic talents whatsoever — and one of the most boring personalities the show's ever had — the point of the sketch was plain dumb.
It couldn't even be saved by the amount of talent up on stage, including the usually dependable Keenan Thompson. It's sketches like this that make you wonder how they made it onto the show in the first place.
Most Untimely Sketch: Hotline Bling
If you haven't heard about "Hotline Bling" yet, you may want to take a second and read our breakdown of it. If you have, then you'll probably have seen all the memes that have been made with Drake's terrible dancing, incorporating anything from video games to Bernie Sanders in the remixes.
And while it's not the writers fault (the show just came back from a three week hiatus), the time for Hotline Bling jokes are over. They're not funny anymore, and having to watch Donald Trump dance to the song weeks after other candidates and celebrities have done it just felt like a grab for attention.
The premise — Drake's dancing was the equivalent to "dad dancing" — wasn't terrible, but it also wasn't anything new, and considering they've had three weeks to come up with a new spin on "Hotline Bling," it was a little disappointing.
Best Surprise: Larry David's return
Larry David, former writer of SNL, co-creator of Seinfeld and showrunner/star of Curb Your Enthusiasm, first appeared on the show three weeks ago to play Bernie Sanders and show his support for the host that night, his friend Tracy Morgan.
During last night's episode, David reprised his role as Sanders during an okay cold open and then continued to call Donald Trump a racist during Trump's opening monologue. When asked why he was heckling, David alluded to the recent news that an anti-Trump protester who couldn't be at the show was willing to pay $5,000 to anyone who called Trump a racist during the opening monologue.
David's brand of comedy is perfect for SNL and his angry persona worked incredibly well with Trump as host. It was a nice surprise to see him in two straight episodes, but I'll be honest: I hope he doesn't wear out his welcome soon. No one wants another Kristen Wiig fiasco.
Overall, it was a terrible episode, but it wasn't the most terrible. What that says about SNL episodes in recent years (and to an extent, Colin Jost as former head writer), I'm not sure. But if SNL wants to continue their anti-establishment brand of comedy that they're known for, this is not the way to go about it.
Elizabeth Banks will host next week's episode, on Nov. 14, with musical guest, Disclosure.