Yes, yes, internet, Lena Dunham hosted SNL this week, and she brought along some pixilated nudity and a few special guest stars, as if the internet wasn’t already on the verge of melting down about it. Put it this way: last week we had Jim Parsons, star of one of the most-watched, least-discussed shows in America. This time we had Lena, of whom you could say the opposite.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given everything she’s done on Girls, Lena was totally game for the hosting gig and acquitted herself very nicely, using a perfunctory monologue bit to get the whole “I’m naked all the time!” gag out of the way quickly (or so we thought, but more on that in a bit).
After last week’s lackluster affair, the show hit a far more consistent stride here. The only dud was the confusing “Jewelry Party,” which initially seemed to be about a men’s rights activist (Mike O’Brien) and his fiery Venezuelan girlfriend (Cecily Strong, who maybe needs to stop doing that accent), but then morphed into being about Cecily dumping Mike (remember, they’re a real-life couple!) because of his noodle arms. It wasn’t even mirthless, it just felt half-baked. But it’s always good to see O’Brien getting more work on the show. He plays an excellent secret weirdo.
Bobby Moynihan was not a big presence this week but he was the secret MVP of talk show “What Are You Even Doing? You’re Being Crazy,” a showcase for another outstanding excitable teen played by Nasim Pedrad. There’s Bobby in the background, typecast as a lazy stoned college student playing video games, but when the moment comes for everyone to flirt with the camera, he blows it away. Jon Hamm (please come back and host for real, sir!) was in this sketch and he wasn’t the hottest part about it.
Sasheer Zamata, who’s been ever-present since getting cast on the show but hasn’t had much to say, also got a big lead role in a fantastic Scandal spoof, long-overdue on SNL. Until Zamata was cast, this would basically have been impossible to stage without giving Maya Rudolph an embarrassed call. Zamata’s best moment was her spot-on mimicry of Kerry Washington’s scandalized head-shaking any time Fitz lays a hand on her. But it should be noted, this sketch basically belonged to Dunham, whose wide-eyed idolatry of the gladiators was probably just a step away from her reaction as a viewer.
But who was the MVP this week?
The Scandal sketch was probably Lena Dunham’s biggest of the night, but she was a very reliable part of this week’s ensemble, only busting out one impression (a thankfully brief Liza Minnelli) but anchoring several others, including the requisite “Lena Dunham gets naked, OMG!” bit, which was thankfully contextualized as a take on Adam (Driver) and Eve. Considering Dunham has never done this kind of live comedy work before, she gets major points for coming off like a pro, even handling a flubbed line in the “Jewelry Party” sketch gracefully.
But her best work was in the pre-taped sketch “Ooh Child,” where her attempts at singing along with her friends in the car just kept getting interrupted by the GPS lady, more and more, to the point of implausibility. This was also just a standout sketch of the night, a winner mostly because of its sick little stinger, just as you’re getting bored with the original premise of the sketch. To say more would be spoiling things!
You generally don't think of Taran Killam as an impressionist—he certainly doesn't fill the void left by Bill Hader (though that void is being filled quite nicely by Kate McKinnon, not that you could tell from this week's episode)—but he busted out two of his strongest ones this week. We've seen him do Adam Driver before, so watching him in the Garden of Eden gave us another chance to watch Killam inhabit odd Driver quirks like his barrel-chested posture, hair-flipping, and outburst-y delivery. The real revelation, however, was his Matthew McConaughey impersonation on Weekend Update, which was scarily accurate. Part-True Detective riff, part-Oscar speech send-up, Killam nailed McConaughey's spacey self-regard, and it's going to be hard not to refer to Colin Jost as Co-Jo from now on.