Miley Cyrus kept her clothes on for the 41st season premiere of “Saturday Night Live.” As is usually the case with musical hosts, Cyrus’ monologue turned into a song, this one recapping all of the outlandish events that happened during summer hiatus, from the “Entourage” movie to Jared Fogle and Josh Duggar (both played by Bobby Moynihan by wearing, then taking off a pair of glasses).
Things got off to a limp start with a weak Donald Trump sketch that found Cecily Strong playing Melania and Taran Killam relying mostly on a pouty bottom lip and an outdated wig to channel The Donald. (Seriously, Trump wishes he still had that thickness of hair.) This marks Killam’s debut as Trump, so here’s hoping he gets better at it because Trump shows no signs of disappearing.
Maybe he can take lessons from Hillary Rodham Clinton, who delivered a killer Trump impression while also handily winning the night’s viral video award by playing bartender Val, serving Kate McKinnon‘s Hillary and gamely taking some gentle criticism about her delayed support for gay marriage. “I wish you could be president,” McKinnon sighed. “Me too!” Clinton said, before the duo launched into a rousing rendition of “Lean on Me.” This after Darrell Hammond‘s Bill Clinton, summoned by mention of the word “vacation,” ran away in fright at the sight of two Hillarys.
The rest of the episode tried to stake a claim for youthful relevance with misfired sketches like “The Millennials,” about vocal fry-talking 20-somethings glued to their phones; new cast member Pete Davidson providing the “youth” perspective on the election during a subdued Weekend Update; and a funny trailer for “The Squad,” about a dystopia in which everyone but Vanessa Bayer and Aidy Bryant have been swooped up by Taylor Swift for her squad
Cyrus was mostly missing from the show, providing two subdued musical performances–save the weird snapping and snarling during her teary rendition of the truly bizarre “Twinkle Song”–and some small supporting work in sketches. Her largest presence was as a rapping Montana transplant at a 1955 homecoming, one of those classic “SNL” sketches that rely on nostalgia more than jokes. The same could be said for the majority of Weekend Update, which, with its riffs on Pope Francis and Kim Davis, feels as if it was written in advance just to get a head start on the new season. And despite the current lack of any female late-night hosts on television right now, a sketch finding Leslie Jones hosting one is safely wrapped up in the racism of the 1960s, where it can’t make any salient points about 2015 or a lack of progress. The same could be said for the whole episode. At least they get to try again next week, with Amy Schumer.
Watch the video of Clinton below: