Saturday Night Live stumbles again despite Maya Rudolph's efforts

The sketch show underwhelmed despite having an alum hosting.
"Loot" screening and Q&A at the opening night of the Apple TV+ Emmy House
"Loot" screening and Q&A at the opening night of the Apple TV+ Emmy House / Eric Charbonneau/GettyImages

Saturday Night Live should have had a season 49 highlight on its hands. After the disappointing results of the Dua Lipa-hosted episode on May 5, the show was reuniting with former cast member Maya Rudolph. Rudolph is a widely beloved alum, and a consistent source of hilarity whenever she drops in for a cameo.

Unfortunately, the magic did not extend to a full episode. It was bizarre, really, but Rudolph fell victim to yet another underwhelming batch of sketch ideas. The cold open was a change up that could have gone over well, with the cast members bringing out their mothers, but the whole thing was handled so awkwardly that the sweetness quickly turned saccharine.

Maya Rudolph's chops carried the best sketches

Saturday Night Live has had a confidence problem over the last few years, and it seeps through whether they attempt sincerity or silliness. It's as though the cast members don't have faith in the premise of whatever they're attempting, which in turn ensures that the sketch doesn't deliver. We get to see countless examples of this throughout Rudolph's May 11 episode.

The former SNL is still very much game, and the sketches that allow her to take center stage and really chew the scenery are the ones that work best. Rudolph does another Hot Ones spoof as the pop queen herself, Beyonce, and a humorous sketch in which she's a difficult actress modeled after Faye Dunaway. Neither have the viral potential of season 49's best, but they achieve what they set out to do.

A lot of the material lacked confidence

It's the stuff in which Rudolph is forced to play alongside the rest of the cast that things really fall apart. The British Cavemen and Teacher PSA have good premises on the surface, but they become painfully unfunny fast, and both devolve into cast members mugging and overreacting their way through stilted jokes. Like we said, lack of confidence.

It's frustrating to watch a talent like Rudolph contend with material that's mostly beneath her, but she does do an admirable job of trying to make something out of it. There's effort on her part, and the few moments of genuine comedic inspiration all belong to her.

The May 11 episode was an improvement over its predecessor, but the show really needs to regain its momentum sooner rather than later.

Next. RDS. Kimmel calls Ron DeSantis a "pathetic worm". dark