NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” got off to a star-studded start when host Woody Harrelson was joined on stage by “Hunger Games: Mockingjay” co-stars Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, and even Jennifer Lawrence.
Harrelson, who plays Haymitch Abernathy in the blockbuster Lionsgate franchise, began his opening monologue by singing a parody of Taylor Swift’s “1989.” But then, his younger co-stars, who weren’t even alive in that year, crashed the party and just started making fun of him for smoking pot.
“We just know the stuff you told us about 1989,” Hutcherson said. “Like the Berlin Wall was torn down by the Kool-Aid Man.”
“You’re always so stoned,” Lawrence said after flubbing an impression of Harrelson being, well, stoned.
The writers kept Harrelson’s well-known drug of choice in the mix later on in the broadcast by addressing New York City’s recent decision to decriminalize the possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana. A pre-taped sketch promised “a new day” for stoners living in the Big Apple. After hearing the news, they slowly came outside to see the light, and celebrate the legislative decision with a bong-toting Harrelson.
While it was great to see Harrelson clothed like a man his age still living in his mother’s basement, the funniest sketch of the night came earlier when “SNL” skewered the television network’s reaction to the barrage of complaints that viewers can easily issue through social media.
The fake commercial for fictional CBS sitcom “The Dudleys,” a prototypical white family seen so many times throughout television history, revolved around the network advertising changes it made due to complaints received over Twitter.
“It’s 2014, why can’t any of the Dudleys be gay?” one tweet read.
Poof! Mrs. Dudley is instantly turned into Harrelson. But then he’s too gay. And why can’t his husband be black? Poof! “SNL” regular Keenan Thompson appears.
“Hugging? Why can’t a real couple show intimacy on TV?” Cut to a graphic sex scene, and so on.
The riff on never-ending viewer unrest ended with a spectacular kicker when the network starts addressing paper letters, which are a hilarious nod to CBS’ older demographic, who haven’t quite mastered the internet.
“What happened to the whites?” one letter reads. “These aren’t my Dudleys,” another reads. “P.S. repeal Obamacare.”
Some of you might have noticed Kim Kardashian’s bare butt and breasts trying to “break the internet” this week, and you’ll be happy to hear “SNL” writers addressed the trend quickly and cleverly.
After pointing out the Paper magazine cover has been viewed by 16 million people, Weekend Update co-anchor Michael Che joked, “Thank you, Kim. I can now find porn just Googling the word ‘paper.'”
Harrelson swung through the news segment to chime in on Season 2 of HBO hit “True Detective,” but Taran Killam stole the show as Matthew McConaughey, who was recently the subject of parody when Jim Carrey hosted.
The topical episode also dedicated a sketch about the concussion controversy still surrounding football — a sport, in which tackling your opponent is an intricate component.
Harrelson led the bit as a high school football coach teaching his players how to tackle other players to the ground safely. Or as Harrelson said, “Put your princess to bed.” The sketch seemed to favor America’s most popular sport, until Thompson showed up as a former Pittsburgh Steeler who couldn’t maintain a coherent stream of thought as he told the student athletes to hit hard on the field.
Outside of current events, “SNL” hit a home run by parodying MTV’s usually awful dating shows with “Match’d” — a game show featuring three horny guys gunning for the affection of a female contestant.
The twist? The host, played by Harrelson, is her father.
The confident and cocky contestants MTV viewers are used to sputtering off pre-written sexual puns on dating game shows like “Taildaters” and “Next” turn into fearful suck-ups trying to get the approval of the former Marine father, rather than impress his daughter.
Saturday marked 25 years since Harrelson first took a stab at hosting “SNL” in 1989, and it appears he’ll be welcome back with open arms when the next “Hunger Games” movie hits theaters this time next year.
Watch video from the episode above and below: