I think we can safely say that nobody really had high expectations for the Jennifer Lopez-hosted episode of SNL last night, which was good, because the show was a bit of a clunker. Still, there were a few highlights:
The show opened with a parody of the "We Are The World" remake, which gave the cast an opportunity to do their most ridiculous celebrity impressions. Kristen Wiig's Gwen Stefani was particularly impressive:
Though the cold open was pretty funny (and, mercifully, a break from the drag-on-forever political openings that have been dominating this season), most of the commenters in our live thread felt it was already pretty dated, what with the Olympics dominating most of the news coverage over the past two weeks of the show's hiatus. The show did cover the Olympics later, however, but we'll get to that in a second. For now, let's talk about J-Lo.
Her monologue was painful, and set up the tone of the rest of the show: whenever she appeared, things got awkward and strained and decidedly unfunny. She spent half of the show playing herself, and the other half playing a Latina stereotype, which seemed to be the only thing the writers knew what to do with her. Her appearance on the show—bizarro Hallmark lyric songs included—was a very obvious attempt at rebranding herself as a down-to-earth, un-diva-like sweetheart, but it just came across as weird and overly acted. It was almost as if she was sitting down with the cast of The View as opposed to performing on a sketch comedy show:
One of the highlights of the show came quite early though: a digital short called "Flags of the World," starring Andy Samberg and Abby Elliott and a cast of wacky flags, including the "Neo-Nazi Potsie Flag." The difference in tone between the digital shorts and the rest of the show gets more and more noticeable each week, and one wonders why Lorne Michaels just doesn't give The Lonely Island its own show ala The Kids in the Hall (though I guess the obvious answer is that SNL would be in even more trouble without them):
Also, in case you missed it, there were two noticeable shout outs during that flag sketch—one to Betty White, who is currently being supported by a Facebook campaign to host the show:
And one to John Mayer, who represented the "jags" of the world on the "Jag Flag." Ouch!
Lopez's main skits were all focused around stereotypes; she appeared in this Telemundo Olympics sketch (where her accent was worse than Fred Armisen's, btw):
She was also in a telenovela sketch that is apparently not working on either NBC.com or Hulu right now, so I'll keep you posted.
And she also showed up to help Jenny Slate promote car horns in a return of Slate's "doorbell" character:
Weirdly enough, the most shocking parts of the evening were Lopez' musical performances, where she sang what sounded like country songs discarded by Faith Hill and hit about 50% of the notes. The songs haven't been released by NBC or Hulu yet, so either there's a licensing issue or Lopez doesn't want the fairly terrible singing available to the good people of the internet. The best sketch of the evening, wherein a young girl is being haunted by the band Smashmouth (it's kind of hard to explain) isn't available either, and music licenses are probably to blame, as Smashmouth's "All-Star" was a centerpiece of the skit.
Overall, it was a pretty craptacular show. You almost felt bad for Lopez, who was clearly there to kickstart her slumping career and, instead, most likely succeeded in killing any chance she had to revive her musical career and didn't do much in the way of proving her comedic talents, either. Of course, the material wasn't great either: it would have been nice if the show had focused on something other than stereotypes and had Lopez do something that didn't involve Telemundo and telenovelas, but maybe that's all she gave the writers room to work with.
In true SNL fashion, however, I expect this dud of a show to be followed by a great one next week. How could it not be, with Zach Galifianakis hosting?