Saturday Night Live: Jennifer Lopez plays the hand she’s dealt

Jennifer Lopez (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for NBC)
Jennifer Lopez (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for NBC) /

Jennifer Lopez hosted another cameo-filled Saturday Night Live that fell flat more times than not.

Jennifer Lopez started off her third time hosting Saturday Night Live with a callback to her first time hosting in 2001. The monologue set the theme for the entire episode that looked backwards more than forward.

Lopez followed Will Ferrell and Harry Styles as host, both of whom found success albeit in different ways. Styles performance was so-so but his rabid fanbase gave many of his sketches a second life on online by sharing clips across social media. Ferrell, returning to host for a fifth time, continued to a sure thing and helped delivered the highest ratings of season 45.

That momentum didn’t exactly continue with Jennifer Lopez as host. It was certainly no fault of Lopez, an experienced and capable performer regardless of the format. This wasn’t a case of the cast having to carry a host through sketches but rather the sketches falling flat or failing to show much inspiration.

Lopez’s monologue featured a reference to her 2001 monologue in which she wore her iconic dress. It came at the end of Lopez recapping her impressive year which only confirmed why she was a solid choice to host.

This followed a cold open which once again relied on cameos to make a splash. Saturday Night Live  took on the story involving world leaders mocking President Donald Trump. Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump is a given at this point. But former cast member Jimmy Fallon showed up as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, frequent host Paul Rudd was French President Emmanuel Macron, and Late Late Show host James Corden debuted as British Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

It was a clever premise and many fans expected that story to be the basis of the cold open. It will no doubt end up as the most watched sketch from the night and find an audience among casual Saturday Night Live fans. But SNL’s dedicated watchers are growing a bit tired of the constant cameos as opportunities for talented cast members to shine are handed to celebrity guest stars.

The top sketch featuring Jennifer Lopez was “Surprise Home Makeover” featuring Mikey Day and Kenan Thompson. Thompson remains the king of the reaction shot and Day remains one of the most versatile performers in the cast. And Bowen Yang continues to be a must-watch performer anytime he shows up in a sketch.

Saturday Night Live fans know that this isn’t the first time Matt Schatt has made an appearance. A season 42 episode hosted by Margot Robbie was the debut of the Schatts. It looks like Schatt has moved on from Robbie and found a second wife in Jennifer Lopez. According to Day, the official canon is that the original Mrs. Schatt passed away in a terrible moped accident.

It was another recurring character that helped another sketch for Lopez. Fans were treated to the return of Chad, Pete Davidson’s signature character. This edition feature Chad as a roadie for Lopez’s tour and featured a cameo by Lopez’s fiancee Alex Rodriguez. Davidson has been mostly absent from season 45 due in part to filming The Suicide Squad but this past episode featured more of the headline-making comedian.

Sketches like “Barry’s Bootcamp” and “Wisconsin Women” were also not exactly new territory despite being entertaining enough. It was only a month ago that SNL mocked SoulCycle instructors and it was more of the same with “Barry’s Bootcamp.” Initially, “Wisconsin Women” looked to be a continuation of characters introduced in Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s episode.

So from the cold open to the monologue and to the two biggest sketches of the night, Saturday Night Live relied on what was familiar. Cameos will always be well-received by the general viewing public but may leave hardcore Saturday Night Live fans a little sour. And there is certainly nothing wrong with bringing back popular characters; it’s what makes the show what it is.

But some fans are still looking for season 45 to find its groove when it comes to new ideas. More sketches like “PottyPM” and “Hoops,” thought not everyone’s cup of tea, typically find their audiences.

Jennifer Lopez will probably host Saturday Night Live again in the future. Her career longevity is impressive and she has proved that she can take on any sketch idea thrown at her.

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Now that we’re in the holiday season, it is only more likely that cameos continue on Saturday Night Live. The Christmas episode routinely features some surprise appearances and fans shouldn’t expect that script to change. Next week Scarlett Johansson returns to host and she will be followed by Eddie Murphy. Keep checking Last Night On for updates, news, and highlights.