And with that, Billie Eilish has now set a very high bar as far as hosts & musical guests go for this season of NBC's Saturday Night Live. Could you argue that there was a host or two who were better? Sure, and you could do the same when it comes to the musical guests, too. But Eilish not only pulled off doing double-duty as host & musical guest but she did it brilliantly while being a large chunk of the night's live and filmed sketches. And the best part? She actually looked like she was having fun doing it. Supporting Eilish throughout the night was an SNL cast and writing team that was firing on every cylinder they could get their hands on, without a dud or brain-scratcher in the bunch. Add into that mix that we got the amazing Kate McKinnon back for a large chunk of screen time and also in what felt like a mentoring role for Eilish. But before we start shifting our focus to next week's final host and musical guest for the year (Ghostbusters: Afterlife star Paul Rudd and Charli XCX), here's a look at the five sketches that slapped me upside the head the hardest Saturday night.
"Lonely Christmas Ad": Eilish, McKinnon, and Mikey Day take the now-beaten-to-death-cliched scene of strangers reaching out to one another via messages from their windows to a horrifying and much more realistic extreme. McKinnon is as brilliant as always and this is one of many moments throughout the night that Eilish proved she has some raw comedic acting talent with tons of potential. But bonus points go to Day for a truly disturbing and unexpected turn.
"TikTok": Did you really think you weren't fair game, TikTok? C'mon, we all know the once-cool, now-corporate social media stopped being that "next big thing" once FOX "News" and Taco Bell started using it. The best compliment I can give the sketch is how many people I know on TikTok messaging me saying they felt exposed. And it's about time someone got to the bottom of the Blake Lively/Illuminati connection. Also, bonus points to Eilish for showing off some sick dance moves that the audience clearly reacted to (made just that much better with the sound of cardiac arrest in the background).
"Christmas Cards": Alex Moffat and Melissa Viillaseñor play a married couple who take a few moments to look over the Christmas cards they have decorating their fridge. And if you've ever lived in a house that does this, then you're also going to feel a bit exposed (as I did, especially with the card from Ego Nwodim's dentist Dr. Donna Woods). Bonus points have to be split between Bowen Yang & Kenan Thompson's middle-aged gay couple, as well as whoever was operating the sick dog puppet; and Punkie Johnson & guest star Miley Cyrus explaining how that celebrity holiday card came to be.
"Santa Song": Eilish, McKinnon, and Nwodim play a trio singing about their weird encounters with Thompson's Santa (with most of them seemingly leaning towards the more sexual "Daddy" vibe, which is another discussion for another day). While the subject is Santa and it's based around the holidays, this sketch worked on a broader scale as a "love letter" to those of us who still deal with the social awkwardness of saying the wrong thing as a response because we feel obligated to fill uncomfortable silences.
"Hotel Ad": Once again, SNL has been spying on all of us all of this time. Because my brain was ticking off every single hotel and motel stereotype that this sketch was offering that I've been through in real life. And yes, I'm pretty certain I stayed at a hotel for a conference that was also hosting a Magic: The Gathering tournament, an intervention, some cult deprogramming, and even some after-prom hand stuff. Bonus points go to McKinnon and Eilish for being able to hold it together, though watching McKinnon trying to break Eilish was worth it alone.
I'm permanently removing "Weekend Update" from my review rundown because in the interest of full disclosure? Colin Jost & Michael Che can do no wrong so if a joke doesn't work then it's our fault and not theirs. And look at the rundown of topics they had to work with this week: pot sleep studies, Oreo-flavored wine, cats as human psychopaths, Jussie Smollett being found guilty, President Joe Biden dropping a diplomatic boycott bombshell on Beijing's Winter Olympics (and NBC coverage of it), and a whole ton more. And for the record, that Jeffrey Epstein suicide joke f***ing slayed:
As for the guests who stopped by to offer commentary, Johnson gets all the points for dropping her theory that pain makes for the best potato salad (and getting some good laughs out of Che). Then Andrew Dismukes offered a take on those animal segments that took a very twisted and hysterical turn courtesy of Bongo the Octopus (who can see far more than weekly NFL scores) and Taco the Talking Dog (who really tries to be there for Dismukes). Was the sketch made better by the fact that the dog was looking the other way the entire time, thus making it look like he was reaching back to push buttons because he just couldn't bear looking Dismuskes in the eyes now knowing his fate? Oh yeah…
And if it's a masterclass on how to own the SNL stage that you're looking for, then look no further than Eilish's performances of "Happier Than Ever" and "Male Fantasy":