SNL: Anne Hathaway Was a Bright Light on a Dull Night

Saturday Night Live S38E07: "Anne Hathaway / Rihanna"

This week Anne Hathaway—Hollywood's most exuberant and overachieving drama student—hosted Saturday Night Live for the THIRD time. That is a lot of times for someone whom we, as a society, can never seem to decide whether we like or not. Confession: I personally used to be in the "not like" category when it came to Anne Hathaway, but a number of things have changed my mind about her. Hathaway's previous SNL stints, for starters, were good times, and I may have been one of the few people who was charmed by her Oscar hosting gig. But really it was her performance as Catwoman in this past summer's The Dark Knight Rises that really won me over. I just thought Hathaway was so good in that role. Her performance was unlike anything I've seen her do before, and by that I mean she was sinister, grounded, sympathetic, and electrifying. Sure, she was all those things and more in The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, but I still thought The Dark Knight Rises was the better movie overall.

Anyway, here's the thing about Anne Hathaway: Like her or not, she's a very talented and gifted performer. Even when a sketch might not be working, you better believe she'll go all Type-A on it, grab it with both hands and strangle it to the ground. She is a dyed-in-the-wool (what does dyed-in-the-wool mean?), old-school performer, a show-must-go-on whirling dervish, all teeth and lipstick just comin' at you like a talent tornado. I thought she was one of the best parts of this episode of SNL! Too bad the episode was not very good overall. I'll try to explain why on a sketch by sketch basis. (Caution: Negativity MAY follow.)

[Apologies to international readers for these embedded clips, Hulu can be a bit of a jerk.]



Cold Open: Mitt Romney on a Balcony


Things got off to an underwhelming start with this cold open, which should've been an exclamation point to punctuate the season's recent run of strong political cold opens. Instead we got a borderline boring sketch about Mitt Romney swigging milk on his balcony (Mormon humor?) while avoiding the completely silent party in his honor that was going on in the other room. Probably the only joke that worked for me was Taran Killam playing three different Romney sons and Mitt being unable to tell them apart. I chuckled at that! Otherwise this sketch went for a soft/elegaic tone, but its lack of hard laughs or comedic timing made for a ponderous exercise. It's too bad, since Jason Sudeikis's Mitt Romney character was generally pretty great (and Sudeikis is leaving SNL pretty soon). Oh well.



Opening Monologue


In case it wasn't totally clear, Anne Hathaway will be appearing in the upcoming movie adaptation of Les Miserables, so here was a parody of the new song from that soundtrack in which Anne Hathaway and the cast described looking forward to the day after taping. Part of me wished this song was funnier, but I mostly appreciated that the entire cast contributed to what was admittedly a pretty meaningful explanation of how hard it must be to produce this show. Probably the only time I laughed was at the end when Tim Robinson started waving a Mexican flag. So, you know, it wasn't ALL just meaningful explorations of SNL life.



Girlfriends Talk Show


Talk show format. Teenage girls in-fighting. This sketch had some good front-and-center visibility for new cast members Aidy Bryant and Cecily Strong, but unfortunately the central joke didn't do much for me. Between having watched SNL for so long and also having seen plenty of live comedy, I felt like I'd seen this sketch hundreds of times already.



The Legend of Mokiki and the Sloppy Swish


Ding ding ding! THIS WAS BRILLIANT. This was so good. SO GOOD. Perfect. The best. There are so many things I could single out as being my favorite part, but they're all so random and unexplainable that it would just ruin the joke. Just WATCH IT. Then watch it again. And then again! I mean, HE IS WEARING TEVAS. Bingo.



Homeland


You know, there is a difference between doing an accurate impersonation of someone and also having a point. Like, Anne Hathaway, Taran Killam, Bill Hader, and Nasim Pedrad absolutely nailed Carrie, Brody, Saul, and Dana, respectively, but the whole sketch STILL felt like a waste of time? Did somebody forget to come up with a decent premise for a Homeland parody sketch? Just doing impressions felt like enough? I don't know. All this made me want to do was watch an actual episode of Homeland. But again, terrific performances all around.



McDonald's Firing


Okay, I really enjoyed this one. Simple premise: At a McDonald's staff meeting, the mere mention of layoffs causes two loud-mouths to assume they're the ones being let go, so they systematically tell everybody off. Just tons of shouting, hurtful put-downs, and reaction shots from those on the receiving end of their verbal abuse. Personal preference, I love shouty comedy!!!! But this sketch also featured a lot of expert comic timing and a runtime that felt short even though it wasn't. Credit where credit's due: This was a good'un.



Rihanna: "Diamonds"


Haha was this a Tim and Eric sketch? Anyway, the song wasn't bad and I downright dug the retro screensaver greenscreen action. Plus there's something so aggressively lazy about Rihanna's stage presence that I think is pretty hypnotizing. No yeah, I liked this.



Weekend Update


I can't quite explain why (despite the fact that it's literally my job), but I hated Seth Meyers even more than usual this week? Sorry guys. I will probably always, forever, and sincerely dislike Weekend Update with Seth Meyers. Put it on my tombstone.



Commentary: Barack Obama


I hated this too. Was the premise of this sketch to make Obama seem like a mean-spirited jackass? Was it ghostwritten by Bill O'Reilly? Fine, but where were the hard laughs, Bill?



Commentary: Gay Couple from Maine


Terrible premise predicated on the inherent humor of two men being in love, and all on the occasion of an historic civil rights victory. Cool! OR we could just be laughing at the residents of Maine? Just top-notch comedic premises, these. At least Bill Hader and Fred Armisen are individually funny. Otherwise this was very disappointing, regressive garbage.



Commentary: Drunk Uncle


Okay I liked this.



Ellen


This sketch is not online presumably due to its frequent use of Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love." Like the earlier Homeland parody, this functioned more as a showcase for top-notch impressions than actual funny dialogue: Kate McKinnon's Ellen DeGeneres was breathtaking, as was Hathaway's brutal take on Katie Holmes. (During the closing credits Hathaway made a point of thanking Katie Holmes and Claire Danes, presumably to avoid any awkward run-ins from here on out.)



American Gothic


This sketch was about 45 minutes long and frequently walked the line between silly/fun and boring/awful. But really, this was the first episode after a presidential election and THIS sketch made the cut?



Rihanna: "Stay"


Rihanna busted out this ballad for her second performance and it was lovely! I don't know much about Rihanna—she is some kind of princess from another dimension, right?—but for a platinum-selling superstar she is just weird enough to keep my interest.



Fake Ad: Flaritin


Haha okay. Not sure why the fake ad was aired LAST, but I appreciated how mean it was. The product itself was beside the point: The actual comedy was in the assertion that a lot of allergies are just made-up by picky narcissists. I laughed when Nasim Pedrad's character admitted that she wasn't actually allergic to gluten, she was just on a diet. Someone I know IRL recently told me they were allergic to gluten and I silently LOL'd but then felt super guilty about it and now it feels like this fake ad on SNL had my back? Feels okay. Not great, but okay. I appreciated the message more than I laughed.


I didn't think this episode was very good overall, so it's remarkable that it contained a few sketches that were some of my favorites of the season so far. That's totally how SNL rolls, though, and it's why we keep tuning in week after week. The same rule can be applied to life: Sometimes you have to put up with an hour and twenty minutes of disappointment in order to get to the ten minutes of good stuff, am I right? I am probably not right, but you get the point.


How do YOU think Anne Hathaway fared? What was your favorite sketch of the night?

Comments (33)
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Note to Publisher and Price Peterson: While I am not a published writer perhaps keeping texting lingo (non-standard writing) out of articles will keep contradictions such as, "Someone I know IRL [in real life] recently told me they were allergic to gluten and I silently LOL'd [laughed out loud]..." from happening. I agree with you in saying SNL did not have their best work Saturday night; in fact, I laughed harder at your incongruity than at any point during the entire 90 minute program.



Hopefully, as kids are writing more via text message today, official published material can be produced and held up as an example of what proper writing should look like. I am well aware I need all the help I can get and look to articles to try to improve myself, which is why I was startled to see non-standard writing used in your professional publication.



Regards,

Matt
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Probably the worst episode of the season, but I thought the cold open and the gay couple from Maine but were hilarious. This is the same thing with the deaf sketch last week - certain people that get all up in arms over such "regressive garbage" need to just lighten up and realize that everything and anything can be a target in comedy.
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I haven't watched SNL in ages, but Anne was great in what she was featured, even though what she was featured in could have used more work (the writing.) How can anyone not love Anne after her great performance in TDKR, and an even more promising performance in Les Miserables. The Homeland sketch was the best.
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Wait a second where's the usual "Seth Meyers did his thing" when you comment Weekend Update. Ah right, you gave it some more lines. I feel that's one of the weakest segments on each SNL.



I agree with your take on Homeland. Great performances but no writing. I could have been much more better. I'd say the same thing about Ellen, felt kinda short. Some time wasted in Girlfriends talk show.
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I was a big fan of this episode, it was my favorite for the season so far. Anne Hathaway is a gem and there were some very good individual performances. Cecile looks right at home, Kate looks like a 10 year vet she's that good and Bobby continues to be good in everything he does. This episode was more than solid.
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- Totally couldn't stand Mokiki.



- Gay couple from Jersey > Gay couple from Maine.



- Ellen sketch seemed like a lot of setup for very little payoff, but at least Ellen herself, according to her twitter, liked it.



- Rihanna sounded horrible live, as usual, but at least she was less horrible this time than the previous 3.



- Weekend Update would be much better if we could just get Stefon and Drunk Uncle every week.
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It's so embarrassing when these huge stars go o the show and then you can hear how much they can't really sing... I mean, you know that before, but you see them torturing themselves...
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hope the "mcdonalds" workers become recurring characters... can think of lots of situations they could work in.
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1st time in a while the 2nd half of the episode was better than the 1st...
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Whatever they're doing to replace the SNL Digital Shorts is working. Mokiki was weirdly funny and the one with Bruno Mars was sweet. Oh, and Anne Hathaway was awesome as usual.
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Everything but the American Gothic sketch was hillarious this week, including weekend update. I really like the McDonald's sketch.
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I absolutely loved Mokiki! Digital whats?! This is where it's at now, just awesome pre-filmed sketches that are totally weird and amazing. Mokiki, Lincoln, and Sad Mouse were all the highlights of their respective episodes.

Also loved the McDonald's one and of course Drunk Uncle! Who doesn't love Drunk Uncle? No one.

I think there's always a conversation worth having about the portrayal and treatment of characters on TV, particularly that of groups who have historically been underrepresented or misrepresented, like gay characters, people of color, women, etc. In this particular instance I thought the gay Maine fishermen sketch was actually kinda funny- they were the least stereotypically gay couple ever, and most of the comedy hinged on Mainers being weird and obsessed with fishing. THAT'S a stereotype I can have a good laugh at without feeling bad! But I get that other people might not see it that way and that's why discussion is so important. That's just my personal take on the sketch, other takes are of course equally valid!
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Okay I was on board with you until you said you liked "The Legend of Mokiki and the Sloppy Swish." NO! Noooooooo. So much awful. Like the worst thing that's ever been aired on television including Britney and Kevin: Chaotic. Just no. Also, coming from a gay man, you need to lighten up on gay humour. Not every joke involving gay men is laughing at gay men and making light of homophobia. The point of the joke was that people from Maine aren't very romantic. They just used a gay couple because it was timely given the legalization of gay marriage. This was far more offensive (and by that I mean, not at all) to people from Maine than gay people.
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Price, I thought Anne's reading was great throughout this episode, but unlike her past hosting gigs, here she was constantly eyeing the cue cards. This was a rough episode to watch, and I place the blame squarely on the writing staff for bringing absolutely nothing to the table.

Dying wool is not easy, it requires putting the dye into the wool before even spinning it into thread, whereas most fabrics can be dyed after they're woven, but those colors aren't as well-adhered to their threads as wool dye is to wool.

The Legend of Mokiki and the Sloppy Swish felt like a really funny bit that went too long and did too much to justify itself, which caused it to fall apart for me towards the end.

As someone who doesn't watch Homeland, I found that sketch to be entirely unfunny and have no recognizable humor at all. I knew they were doing impersonations, but there was nothing to connect with for me.

The McDonalds one was funny but felt too one-sided.

I think Seth Meyers was shouting more than usual to ensure the audience heard his punchlines over their yawns. He sucked, and weekend update ran too long and it all sucked.

Ellen sketch was just impressions, not terribly funny. I thought Anne's impression of Katie Holmes being trotted out here was meanspirited compared to last time.

You called it on the American Gothic sketch, way too long - I would have kept it in the show but cut half the time.

My poor mom actually is allergic to gluten and lactose, like "writhing on the floor for hours in agony" allergic, so the fake ad at least called out all the dickbags in the world who abuse the concept for their own weak spirits, but it did feel like this was too long and shouldn't have closed the show.

Yeah, a terrible episode, poor use of the host.
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MOKIKI was beyond amazing. I haven't seen something that good on SNL in awhile. It definitely ranks up there with the Samberg stuff like "threw it on the ground" and "jizzed in my pants."
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I love Mokiki, the McDonald's firing, Drunk Uncle and I gotta admit, Homeland sketch cracked me up. The Girlfriends Talk Show was okay, not the best, but I liked seeing the new cast members take front a center.
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Anne Hathaway had me years ago when she hosted snl and did Katie Holmes' stupid half-smile and hair ear tuck. This kid can do no wrong and seems to be smartly setting herself up to be the second coming of Julie Andrews. She can make even dumb crap watchable.
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Anne Hathaway is A+ ,

But SNL is decesed for many years, dont you smell?
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Bla bla bla so people like you have been saying for 20 years now get off it please. When the show is canceled it's done not a second before.
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I liked it all and really don't see what all the criticisms of the Romney sketch are about. You have an ultra religious guy who can't drink any alcohol and has a bunch of clone kids, skit was perfect.
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Anne Hathaway will always bring it. ALWAYS. I don't think she knows how to NOT bring it. And this is why we love her.

Rihanna too always bring it... but HOLY SH*T is it always crazy! Seriously, the hell was up with that screensaver background!? It completely distract me from what I think was a good song (it was a good song, right?)

All and all, I love the show. I laughed hard to a lot of jokes, even some in lukewarm sketches (the 'Trump being racist' putdown in the Romney sketch had me clapping while laughing), and, they may have been pointless, but the "Homeland" and "Ellen" parody were still hilarious.

All and all, I've seen worst episodes this season.
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Yeah the Ellen sketch was funny, but I kept hoping Taran Killam's Ellen-look-alike guy would go somewhere, and then it didn't :(
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I liked the Homeland sketch but that was about it. They keep asking unfunny people to host, and expecting funny results. Next week is Jeremy Renner, so I'm not expecting much more.
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Haha, the Homeland parody is genious!
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Mokiki, Homeland, Drunk uncle, Ellen and McDonalds were great. And you have to admit, Jay Pharoh's Obama is flawless. So glad he's doing it this year.
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Well I know dyed in wool is a great song by Circa Survive.
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The 'Homeland' sketch wasn't just about the impressions. It was parodying all the aspects of the show. That's what was so great about it. The jokes just kept coming fast.

It's insane how much I disagree with you but you hit the nail on the head with the Mokiki sketch. That WAS perfect.

Also, Fred Armisen isn't really funny. He can be funny sometimes but that's only when he's not the focus of a sketch.
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All aspects of the show, including, but not limited to, Carrie's corkboarding and penchant for sleeping with people she interrogates, and Saul's infinite f'ing trust in Carrie no matter how much she screws up.
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Mokiki was prolly the best sketch. It was weirdly absurd yet amusing.
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Liked: Homeland sketch, Girlfriends talk show (Anne Hathaway was perfect), Mokiki, Drunk Uncle, maybe Ellen a little (Anne Hathaway was perfect)

Disliked: almost everything else

Skipped entirely: Rihanna

Truly boring: McDonals's. The ONLY moments that were at least remotely funny were the cuts on the employees' faces and only two or three were actually laugh-worthy.
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I am amazed at how much we disagree. I appreciate your point of view but it is interesting how comedy affects people differently and how people's preferences can vary. To each their own. I enjoyed the impressions. The McDonald's sketch was meh and Drunk Uncle was more annoying than ever. Seth Meyers as always was amazing.
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Have to agree with you. The McDonald's sketch was not funny to me, all it was was shouting insults for way too long. As always, hate Drunk Uncle. I thought the gay sketch was hilarious, Hader and Armesin where just plain funny in it.

Mokiki wins hands down though.
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You like shouty comedy but dislike Seth Meyers? Whaaa...?
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