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‘Saturday Night Live’ Season 40 Recap: Woody Harrelson & Kendrick Lamar

Finally, a really good episode of Saturday Night Live! This week, the host and musical guest were Woody Harrelson and Kendrick Lamar. Lots of callbacks to Harrelson doing drugs. It was the main focus of the monologue and carried through to other sketches in small but noticeable ways.

Cold Open: Featuring Jay Pharoah, Taran Killam, and Sasheer Zamata. President Obama and Mitch McConnell are having drinks in the White House. Grade: D

Monologue: Woody Harrelson does a parody of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space”, and sings about the year 1989 which was full of Harrelson doing drugs and being a series regular on Cheers. Harrelson’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay co-stars Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, and Jennifer Lawrence show up. Lawrence flubs one of her lines. Grade: B

The Dudleys!: A family sitcom starts experiencing changes thanks to viewer feedback. The parents go from a straight white couple to a white gay couple to an interracial gay couple, because it’s 2014 and we need to be more exclusive. The sketch becomes more absurd when one of the daughters becomes Crazy Eyes (guest star Uzo Aduba) from Orange Is the New Black. “Loud and clear.” Grade: A-

MTV’s Match’d: Featuring Cecily Strong, Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, Taran Killam. The sketch parodies a typical MTV dating show. The three contestants are mainly three extremely horny guys who talk very explicitly to Desiree, the 18 year old from St. Louis looking for love. The tables are turned on the guys when they learn that she’s the daughter of the host (Woody Harrelson). Their attitudes change completely. When they think the host is out of earshot, they revert back to their indecent selves, of course. Grade: C+

Marijuana Legalization: Pete Davidson is the lead in this pre-taped sketch in which the stoners of the world finally embark outside their homes when NYC residents are now legally allowed to carry up to 2 ounces of marijuana. “It’s a new day.” Highlights include:

  • A mom with a stroller and a bag of weed
  • Woody Harrelson as a white guy with dreads
  • The stoners flying a Funyuns flag
  • Rugrats

When they learn the new law means they can simply carry 2 ounces, but they can’t actually smoke marijuana in public, everyone returns to their homes. Grade: A

Football Rules: The high school football team isn’t winning because of the new rules about tackling other players. Kenan Thompson is an ex-player who’s clearly suffered some brain damage. Grade: C

Young Tarts & Old Farts: Drawing from Lada Gaga and Tony Bennett’s real life musical collaboration, SNL finds an excuse for some celebrity impersonations, which is always welcomed. This one features duets between older (classic) musicians and contemporary pop stars. The sketch features:

  • Ariana Grande & Lionel Ritchie
  • Kendrick Lamar & Barry Manilow
  • Macklemore & Diana Ross
  • Meghan Trainor & BB King
  • Elton John & Blue Ivy Carter
  • Aretha Franklin & Robyn
  • Crosby, Stills & Psy
  • James Taylor & Sam Smith
  • James Taylor & 2 Chainz
  • Miley Cyrus & Lorde

Grade: A

Kendrick Lamar Performs: Kendrick’s performance of “i” was terrific — full of energy and appropriately intense. The black contacts gave him a demonic appearance, which was a little unsettling.

Weekend Update: 16 million people viewed Kim Kardashian’s Paper magazine cover. Punchline: “Dat ass.” Relationship expert Leslie Jones comments on the woman sneaking into a man’s home through the chimney. Her rant about “crazy bitches” is absolutely fabulous. The punchline to Dennis Rodman sending a letter to Kim Jong-Un to free Kenneth Bae got the biggest laugh from me.

Free Bae.
Love, Bae

Of course, you also had Taran Killam playing Matthew McConaughey in a bit where he and Woody Harrelson talk about True Detective. Killam’s McConaughey is fantastic. Grade: B

Remember The Crack?: Four guys hanging out at a bar are nostalgic for the old NYC. In contemporary NYC, there’s froyo everywhere but Woody Harrelson can’t find any decent crack. Grade: B+

Campfire Song: “Apples. Apples. In the usual way.” Grade: C

Kendrick Lamar: “Pay For It”

Drunk Couple: Woody Harrelson and Kate McKinnon are two drunk people at a bar who start hitting on each other. The sketch escalates to the two making out through plastic wrap. Kenan Thompson is horrified — rightfully so. Grade: C

What did you think of the episode?