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Sunday, 21 of October of 2018

Tag » Saturday Night Live

Why SNL’s “Crab Legs” Sketch Was the Worst

Jolene (Kristen Wiig) and Wendy (Zooey Deschanel) talk up their crab legs.

Even Kristen Wiig can't vamp her way out of this.

Most of my Sunday morning was dominated by conversation on one thing. Sure, I also talked about where to go for breakfast and whether the farmers market is worth bearing Hollywood, but it always circled back to how SNL terrorized America with the “Crab Legs” sketch.

Officially, it’s called “Patio Party” on Hulu but it’s such a general term that the horror is diluted. It’s like calling “2 Girls 1 Cup” “Bedroom Scene.” To spare you the trouble of watching the video: two excited women with big hair and a questionable relationship (roommates? lovers? hype women hired by the national crab board?) are overjoyed to feed their neighbors crab legs in their backyard until they realize there’s a misunderstanding and they have no crab legs to actually serve. So they turn out the lights. That’s it. That’s the whole thing. The more I ruminate on it, the more offended I am that this sketch made it through pitch, rehearsals, dress rehearsals, the early show audience, and then to live audience. So many chances for us to be saved. So many chances for us to be spared.

Do you think I’m being hyperbolic? Have you seen this sketch? I’m going to take you through this perfect storm of comedy abyss and show you why this abomination stole life from you, not only chronologically but maybe spiritually. The more one thinks about it, the more prone to ennui one becomes and, by God, if I’m going to spin into an existential crisis, you’re coming with me. It all starts with —

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Saturday Night Live – “Emma Stone with Kings of Leon”

“No, I will not make out with you.”

Emma Stone on stage for the Saturday Night Life monologue.

Pants!

One can’t really be a closeted Emma Stone fan if one keeps telling everyone about it. There’s some sort of shame in me for being attracted to Emma Stone, not for her level of talent or aesthetic or charismatic presence but, almost solely, for her age. She’s drinking age and almost a full four years above jailbait but, for some reason, I reflect on the fact that, when I turned drinking age, she was dropping out as a freshman in high school and convincing her parents to move to Hollywood. And while she started to get down to the work that eventually brought her to the SNL stage, I spent it putzing around Atlanta, squandering my youth.

The point is the girl was 14 and probably more mature than I was in 2002 and it’s this duality, maturity in youth (aided by a deep husk in her voice), I think, that I detect when I hear the sheepish admissions of men my age and later of a crush on the chick from Superbad. But this SNL sadly reminded me of another popular crushed upon female celebrity (one that people more emphatically admit to): Megan Fox.

Though the two figures don’t share much outside relative age range (Fox is only two years older) and being obsessions of GQ editors, their SNL stints were equally lackluster. My issue with Megan Fox’s run were the skits primarily based on her being either a prostitute, male fantasy character, or herself, and her roles were generally uninspired (she only speaks gibberish Russian-sound-alike in one). While Emma Stone was allowed to play more varied roles, the skits themselves were relatively uninspired and failed to use her ability, save two where she was stepped all over.

So here are some quick reviews of last night’s SNL, ranked good (“Easy A”), bad (“Easy C”), or ugly (“Easy Fail”). You’ll see the list is a bit lopsided.

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Psych Live! – or How the World Will Ruin an Old Woman’s Victory

Shawn and Gus bump fists in a Psych promo.

Let’s take it down. What?

Saturday Night Live is busted. It’s not broken forever and the format isn’t dead. But it limps into every Saturday evening on the backs of Weekend Update, The Lonely Island, maybe the musical guest, and whichever topical host that wants to shill their product that week. The show is burdened by unfunny sketches and a desperate search for its identity. We are in the midst of building years for the series (as it has gone through several times in its history) and, while the writers try to rediscover their voice and themselves, the show is grasping for hooks anywhere they can.

Notice I said “topical” hosts. This typically means whatever male or female actor who has a new movie coming out or a television project on the network with some synergy value. But with hosts like Tom Brady, Michael Phelps, and Taylor Swift stepping into Alec Baldwin and Christopher Walken’s shoes, the host position isn’t just the coveted prize of any quick-thinking, steady-nerved actor but is a contribution of fame to anyone remotely recognizable.

It speaks to our times that viewers could amass enough clout to campaign for a woman they mostly knew as Rose Nylund to host the show in the twilight of her life. Betty White was a brilliant choice for Saturday Night Live host, even if most of the participants in the campaign weren’t aware of her decades of legit and television history before spinning tales of St. Olaf. It was remarkable that a grassroots movement could affect the casting decision of an institution. They never needed help before. But that is something that identifies the current paradigm of television audiences. We’ve gone from accepting what little we were given to turning the channel on something we don’t like to attempting to dictate what we consume, no longer viewing the medium (and those in charge) as being walled-off from the masses. And in an industry where viewing habits are shaking the foundations of an aging, if not antiquated, business model, the industry is willing to let the people speak (a little bit anyway).

But it may have opened the door to madness. Facebook is flooded with nominees to host SNL from Stephen Colbert to Joe Rogan to, er, Blake. And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with these pages inherently. Sure, the unified effort to push Betty White back into the spotlight has to splinter a little bit among all these choices but pages like this have always been around, just no one expected much of them (although I fully support the Nathan Fillion and Bruce Campbell efforts).

Among these efforts is one to place James Roday and Dule Hill as joint hosts. And I support it, if only because this might be their golden opportunity to do it and it could mean a deconstruction of SNL‘s hobbled format. But I fear the expectation of what a desperate network might require if this thing is successful. It could mean great things. Or it could be completely disastrous for the franchise.

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