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The 3 Worst Things About Saturday Night Live’s Season Opener

Even this late in his 2nd term, Saturday Night Live is unable to poke even the slightest bit of fun at President Obama. The rest of the show is weak, too.

Bashing Saturday Night Live is an American pastime that rivals baseball, but as someone who has watched it regularly since the 1980s, I tend to defend it. People always say that SNL was better than it was in decades past and they dismiss some of the groundbreaking performances we’ve seen more recently.

But even I can’t deny how absolutely horrible the SNL season opener was. Holy schmoley was it bad.

Here are the three worst things about it.

1) The Opener Could Not Have Been Weaker

It began with a shockingly boring sketch featuring the talented and frequently featured Aidy Bryant as Candy Crowley hosting a Sunday morning talk show about the NFL’s domestic violence problems. Aidy tripped over her lines so much that it made viewers cringe. Jay Pharoah’s normally spot-on with impressions but his Shannon Sharpe send-up was so off in such a way that it came off as racist (quite a feat!). Jokes (or things that “smell like jokes,” to quote SNL writer Maria Semple) required so much insider knowledge as to fall flat. As with much of the show, host Chris Pratt was the best part of this skit, but was limited by the material.

2) One-Note Sketches A Quarter-Inch Deep

If previous years saw sketches drone on and on and on, this year sketches seem to evoke mostly a “That’s it?” response. An absolutely lame bit regarding toys being turned into real men with real sexual desires didn’t even fill out the brief time it had and played with incest and pedophilia in ways that weren’t even funny. If you’re going to go the incest/pedophilia route, fine, but make sure it’s funny. Another sketch about an animal hospital played on one joke — they kill the animals — and pet-owners’ response to same. Uh, OK.

3) Which Brings Us To The Train Wreck That Was Weekend Update.

Michael Che and Colin Jost should be given time to get comfortable in their new anchor chairs but Che, in particular, should take a remedial course in comedic timing. Jokes and smell-like-jokes failed because he sped through them or messed up the pauses.

But the real failure was that — and I kid you not in any way here — the Weekend Update crew joined with Kenan Thompson to give President Obama a pep talk. A pep talk. Not an are-you-freaking-kidding-me-you-are-a-bad-president evisceration. But a pep talk. A pep talk that — and again, I’m totally serious here — went after President George W. Bush, who left office so long ago that it was from an era when comedy shows knew how to make fun of presidents.

The Hollywood Reporter ran an excerpt of a book about SNL’s politics that included passages that — if I were to put the best construction on them — indicate that drug use is as rampant at SNL as it was during the late 1970s. Here’s Horatio Sanz:

What drug produces that level of disconnect with reality? I’m honestly not sure.

And as for this “Karl Rove” type, Jim Downey, he says he’s a Democrat but that he and former writer, now Sen. Al Franken agree “that the last couple seasons of the show were the only two in the show’s history where we were totally like every other comedy show: basically, an arm of the Hollywood Democratic establishment.”

Yes, obviously. But even Downey says this about Obama:

Oh for crying out loud. If you can’t make fun of this president, you should hang up your hat and go work for Everybody Loves Raymond or something. The degree of difficulty is high? Really? I mean, Sarah Palin manages it so it can’t be that hard, right?

Sheesh. As Kyle Smith wrote:

My husband and I looked at each other with confusion and disgust as the Weekend Update crowd told President Obama to cheer up and that things would get better. There were lines like, “Benghazi used to be a huge deal, now it’s just John McCain’s safe word,” and suggestions that he go on the road with the real first family, Beyonce and Jay-Z. Jost said that Bush had wrecked the economy, bombed every country with sand and that all he had to do was paint one ok picture of a dog to get back in the country’s good graces. Ha ha! All so funny and fresh!

SNL wasn’t a complete loss. The Cialis Turnt commercial and Pete Davidson’s hilarious and already-condemned-as-homophobic bit about prostitution were memorable.

But seriously, guys, that was embarrassing. Hire someone who doesn’t worship Obama for the writing team. Just one. And remedial writing, acting and comedy courses all around.

Follow Mollie on Twitter.

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