SNL: Tina Fey Brings Us Brownie Husbands, Women's News, And The Return Of Sarah PalinS

Tina Fey's return to Saturday Night Live had its ups, downs, and delicious brownie husbands:

After a so-so monologue (which isn't available online yet) wherein Fey brought out her nannies and Steve Martin to show how she "gets things done," the show kicked off with a very Liz Lemon-esque commercial for "Duncan Hines' Brownie Husband:"
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Musical guest Justin Bieber co-starred in this borderline creepy skit about Fey, a teacher, fantasizing about her student, Bieber, simply because he's kind to her when all of her other students are. The entire premise is pretty dark (and would probably set off Chris Hansen's alarm bells), but Bieber's sung lines and Fey's dancing make it hard not to laugh:
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Fey returned during Weekend Update to present a special segment called "Women's News," which started off as a silly segment on general lady issues but quickly devolved into a chance for Fey to take shots at Michelle "Bombshell" McGee and other "skanks" and "whores." It was...weird. And not particularly funny, mostly because the jokes seemed about three weeks late (but that can be attributed to the fact that SNL has been on hiatus for the past few weeks, I think):
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Fey going after "trashy" women seemed to be the theme of the night, as she starred as one of Tiger Woods' mistresses:
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A tiny prostitute named Lolene:
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And playing Dina Lohan in a weird Al Roker skit that didn't quite work:
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This school dance skit was actually my favorite one of the night. Nasim Pedrad is so great (as always), playing a teen who loves her Mom and isn't intimidated or mocked by the cool kids that you almost forget that there aren't any obvious jokes or SNL-type catchphrases in the sketch It's funny in a quiet way, and very, very sweet:
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But the highlight of the night was probably the return of Fey's Sarah Palin impression, which she used to introduce "The Sarah Palin Network," a network filled with the kind of programming a Tea Partier could love (including, in the night's best zinger, The Tonight Show With Jay Leno):
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Overall, it was a pretty good show. Fey is always fun to watch, and even when the material isn't great, she elevates it just by being there (which can be said for much, if not all, of this particular SNL cast, especially Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader, and the aforementioned Pedrad, who consistently turn in excellent performances). But there were a few things I noticed that were a bit..off. One would think that Tina Fey's presence on the set would have led to a few more woman-centric skits, but Kristen Wiig was pretty much missing all night (save for a Weekend Update appearance as Aunt Linda), and Jenny Slate and Abby Elliott were, once again, relegated to background characters. It was a bit disappointing, especially when one thinks back to the Fey era of SNL, when Poehler/Rudolph/Dratch/Fey would often dominate shows together, though I guess as the host, she probably didn't have a ton of control over such things—certainly not as much as she did in her head writer days.

Many of our commenters noticed a bit of a Mean Girls streak in Fey last night, in terms of the characters she played and the jokes she dropped during Weekend Update. There seemed to be a need to make fun of other women (particularly lower class women) that kept popping up throughout the episode, which kind of left me, and some of our readers, from what I could see, with a feeling that while many of the jokes were decent, it seemed like they were aiming at the easiest targets. As with most of this season (the Jon Hamm episode being the exception) the show was okay, not great. Most weeks, that's all one really expects from SNL: things are typically uneven because different sketches appeal to different people, though there's usually one skit that hits for everyone. This week, however, I think perhaps our expectations were a bit too high, which might explain why I have a lingering sense of disappointment over the whole thing.

So what did you think, commenters?