Hands down, this episode of Saturday Night Live was the best of 2021. Regé-Jean Page, breakout star of the hit new romance Bridgerton hosted. And as you can imagine, jokes were rampant regarding this leading man’s smoldering sex appeal; during the opening monologue Aidy Bryant literally calls him “hot sex man.”
Regé-Jean Page proved himself, too, as a solid comedian anchoring every wild sketch that this week had to offer. And in addition to the first-time host, another actor really shined this week: Pete Davidson. The often underutilized cast member made an appearance in almost every one of the night’s segments.
The Cold Open
The imagined “Oops You Did It Again!” talk show brings together four major players from the week’s news: Britney Spears (Chloe Fineman), Sen. Ted Cruz (Aidy Bryant), Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Pete Davidson), and actress Gina Carano (Cecily Strong). “Oops You Did It Again,” sets guests up to make public apologies, as Spears herself has been receiving so many since the release of Framing Britney Spears. As always, Fineman nails the impression, this time playing up the host’s unnatural jumpiness — and consistently pursed lips. Aidy Bryant is equally deft as a boisterous, sunburned, and corn-rowed Ted Cruz, bounding on-stage with the (now infamous) black rolling suitcase and a Pina Colada in hand. Bryant’s appearance touches on not only Cruz’s betrayal of fellow Texans, but also of his own daughters. After all, “The whole trip was the girls’ idea! They love Cancun! There’s so much for kids to do! The topless beach, shots at Señor Frog’s…”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is the next to arrive, played somewhat inexplicably by Pete Davidson. But since the dire circumstances of Cuomo’s scandal — misreporting the number of nursing home Covid deaths — leaves little to joke about, the awkwardly mismatched casting works as a comedic buffer. And props to the makeup department for nailing the Cuomo eye bags! The next guest is the ousted Mandalorian star, Gina Carano, portrayed effortlessly by Cecily Strong. Strong could play an outspoken, offensive character like Carano in her sleep. So the punchline really lies in Carano’s obvious disgust for Cruz, who tries to buddy up on the couch. “Do not associate yourself with me,” she says. “I am strong. And you are a pile of soup.”
The Opening Monologue
Bridgerton star Regé-Jean Page had a lot to prove in his first Saturday Night Live monologue. Audiences have only recently become acquainted with the handsome actor, as Bridgerton premiered just two months ago. And since his character, the Duke of Hastings, is no regular guy, it can be difficult to imagine what Page is really like. His monologue, helpfully, touches on the craze surrounding the racy Netflix show which has cast him in such a “smoldering, sensual” light. Page oozes confidence through the ironically self-effacing commentary, and seems so comfortable on the NBC stage. Even when fangirling cast members Aidy Bryant and Ego Nwodim pop up to drool all over him. Chloe Fineman appears too, dressed as Page’s Bridgerton co-star Phoebe Dynevor — a look which she’d later reprise in the hilarious “Intimacy Coordinator” sketch.
Top Three Sketches
1. “Intimacy Coordinator”
Full disclosure, I have not watched Bridgerton. But like anyone with a Netflix account, I’m well aware of the regency-era romantic drama, famous for its steamy sex scenes. Here, Regé-Jean Page relives his iconic role as the Duke of Hastings while Chloe Fineman as his love interest, protagonist Daphne Bridgerton. Or, as the crude intimacy coordinator refers to them in the sketch, “Bridgetown” and “Daffy,” respectively. This behind-the-scenes premise considers what filming Bridgerton would be like if the intimacy coordinators were two bumbling weirdos, played by Mikey Day and Pete Davidson. What might seem like an immature premise really lands here, thanks to the good-natured energy of Davidson and Day… and the timely inclusion of the real-life Bridgerton star.
2. “Mr. Chicken Legs Pageant”
Finally, some attention is being paid to this biological anomaly: scrawny legs on grown men. This imaginative pageant, hosted by Regé-Jean Page and Chloe Fineman, features cast members Mikey Day, Andrew Dismukes, and of course, lanky Pete Davidson as contestants vying for the title of Mr. Chicken Legs. As Cecily Strong sings in the spirited theme song: “The legs are skinny, thin, and mini, only one will be Mr. Chicken Legs. They’re adult males, their legs are rails, only one can be Mr. Chicken Legs!” (Spoiler alert: Pete takes the crown.)
3. “The Grocery Rap”
Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, and Andrew Dismukes as wannabe comedy-rappers attempting to film a dumb themed music video inside of a grocery store, mid-pandemic. Regé-Jean Page is delightful as the unamused grocery store manager, begging the trio to put on face masks and not put back fruit after taking a bite. So far, it looks like rookie cast member Dismukes will take after Mooney in portraying the show’s more boyish characters.
Check out “Actors Spotlight” for Kenan Thompson’s stupidly funny take on Ice Cube pretending to be a British actor. Or “Sea Shanty,” a lively skit which features the entire male cast. Similarly, “Drivers License” also spoofs masculinity through covering Disney star Olivia Rodrigo’s adolescent ballad within a sport’s bar setting.
Obviously Colin Jost and Michael Che were going to absolutely roast Ted Cruz’s inappropriate Mexico vacation. But this week’s Weekend Update also featured an interview with Pete Davidson, whose regularly infuses the segment with some casual stand-up. This time, the Staten Island got to talking about spending Valentine’s Day single during the pandemic, plans to move out of his mom’s basement (finally!), and plans for his upcoming tattoo removals. Best line? “My mom has way more of a case to take over my finances than Britney Spears’ dad ever did… All Britney did was shave her head. I got a life-size tattoo of the Tootsie Pop owl.”
Musical Guest: Bad Bunny and Rosalia
Well, here’s the performance that nearly broke the internet. Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny and the Spanish singer-songwriter Rosalia are longtime collaborators. Their hit duet “La Noche De Anoche” had its official music video released on Valentine’s Day. But it’s the recent SNL performance that really got people talking. Although Bad Bunny reportedly has a girlfriend, he and Rosalia are not above teasing their fans with some seriously intense stage flirtation. See for yourself, and tell me they were really not about to kiss on live television.