My Blog

My WordPress Blog


Scream queen Jenna Ortega hosts a dark and twisted Saturday Night Live

Last year The Hollywood Reporter called Jeanna Ortega the “next big thing” and now she is hosting Saturday Night Live. After a meteoric rise in Hollywood, she now is a first-time host and the youngest of this season. Despite her young age, she has been in the industry for over a decade and she proved it with versatility, commitment, and poise in hosting this legacy sketch show. Similar to last week, SNL benefited from embracing more provocative and twisted content. Ortega’s unique persona blending innocence and darkness enhanced this trend and made for a terrific episode.
It was very hard to pick tonight. However, the simplicity and relatability of “Please Don’t Destroy – Road Trip” won out. A burnt-out Ortega joins the comic trio on a road trip. A great premise, the sketch juxtaposed the hopes and dreams of a road trip with its inevitable and harsh realities. Contrasting the cheerful musical interludes with bursts of passive aggression created a hilarious unease. It was Jean-Paul Satre’s No Exit (pun intended) set in a four-door metal box on the open road.
Tomorrow’s Academy Award red carpet served as tonight’s cold open. By no means horrible, the sketch simply lacked focus. At its best, it was a nice break from the typical reenactments of political press conferences and news reports while remaining topical. Mainly structured as a takedown of Hollywood culture and the inaneness of award shows, it felt like the writers threw as many ideas as possible at the wall just to see what might stick. From Ozempic to Michelle Williams’ Jewish acting coach, or maybe more accurately, acting Jewish coach the sketch had the potential to dig into, but nothing scratched the surface. The entire exercise felt like a revolving door of impressions without any real direction.
Next to “Please Don’t Destroy – Road Trip,” “Waffle House” was the best sketch of the night due to its complexity. Inspired by last year’s viral video of a Waffle House employee catching a chair mid-air, the sketch involved the delicate balance between two different planes of action. Balancing a WB-inspired teen drama with the chaos of Waffle House at night (if you’ve been, you know), the disparate elements came together in perfect comedic harmony. Ortega and Marcello Hernandez’s dedication to playing it straight only amplifies the escalating violence in the background bacchanal. It was the perfect fusion of performance and staging. The sketch was an exercise in restraint by defying the urge to bring the camera into the background action. It was inevitable that the two planes of action collide with someone or something coming through the glass, the reveal of the father was the perfect unexpected twist.
New cast member Molly Kearney had more to do than normal in tonight’s episode. Of many great moments, their portrayal of Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally was their best. As Tennessee and many other Republican-led state legislatures launch attacks on their queer citizens, McNally is a constant reminder of the marriage between politics and hypocrisy. While supporting an anti-LGBTQ+ agenda publicly, McNally has been enjoying queer thirst traps on social media in private (well not very private). From jabbing McNally’s technological ineptitude and lampooning his false sanctimony, the segment was the perfect illustration of blatant bigotry. Anchored by excellent wordplay from “randy” to “Tom, Dick, and hairless,” Kearney’s facial expressions, handwork, and decision to play McNally as a perverted baby was pitch perfect. Hopefully, Kearny celebrates the performance at Flaming Saddles tonight. An honorable mention goes to Ego Nwodim’s sleep-deprived, no-nonsense downstairs neighbor in “Exorcism.”
Nearly everyone in the cast found a moment to shine tonight, but the standout, of course, was Jenna Ortega. Each sketch felt tailor-made for and propelled by Ortega’s unique star power. An enchanting blend of past season hosts like deadpan Aubrey Plaza and showoman Keke Palmer, Ortega’s youth, intelligence, and her particularly quizzical blend of innocence and darkness was the episode’s foundation. She started with a solid monologue, but it was her character work in each sketch that was astounding. Her commitment to each character and her craft was admirable and elevated each sketch. The best proof came from “Jingle Pitch,” which seemed the least suited to Ortega, she still made it work. There was a terrific moment where she nearly breaks in response to Bowen Yang’s frenzied performance, but she manages to hold it all together. Ortega’s performance was a testament that comedy should be taken seriously and rooted in the reality of each character.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *