Saturday Night Live season 44 premiere recap: Adam Driver


Saturday Night Live returned for its season 44 opener with a new cast member and a new opening sequence. But host Adam Driver was the true MVP of the night.

Fall TV is officially in full swing, and Saturday Night Live was back once again poke fun at as many laughable moments as they could since ending its last season in May. Adam Driver returned to host for a second time, and Kanye West was back for yet another performance as well. Where Driver thrived, Kanye did not. Driver was almost underutilized, and for such a great actor, this episode didn’t come close to his first time hosting.

In an almost unprecedented move, Kanye West got an additional third performance, cutting time from cherished goodbye from the host at the end. To add salt to the wound, Kanye performed his final song in a Make America Great Again. Aside from that, SNL got a new black and white opening, and a new cast member, Ego Nwodim — who was rarely used in her first appearance, of course. For the rest of the episode, here’s our breakdown of the good, the “meh” and the bad from SNL’s season 44 premiere.

The Good

Cold Open: Matt Damon nails it as Brett Kavanaugh

As predicted, SNL went for the big story of the week for the cold open: the Ford-Kavanaugh hearings. What was unexpected was the arrival of Matt Damon, who played Brett Kavanaugh to a tee. The yelling. The sniffling. Even the looks. It was all there.

In something as ridiculous as what went down during Kavanaugh’s hearing (talking about being black-out drunk, “boofing,” and that high school yearbook), the jokes pretty much wrote themselves. But in the 13-minute sketch, SNL handled it expertly.

’80s Party

In line with the Kavanaugh hearings, SNL used one of its digital sketches to go back to simpler times when life was like a John Hughes movies in the ’80s. It focused on a wild college party where everyone agreed that nothing they did that night would matter. But of course, things turned out much differently those poor teens on that night of terrible decision making. Moral of the story, folks: be a decent human being, be responsible for your actions, and don’t make excuses.

Weekend Update

Yet another hit for SNL, once again, was talking about Brett Kavanaugh — this time during Weekend Update. Fresh off of hosting the Emmys, Michael Che and Colin Jost each had their own funny moments. Leslie Jones made a brief appearance as Serena Williams. Pete Davidson gave us the inside scoop on what it’s like to be engaged to Ariana Grande (hint: he isn’t worthy and he knows it). And later, Kate McKinnon came back to play the notorious Ruthe Bader Ginsberg in a sorta laugh-worthy talk with Jost.

Career Day

I typically hate classroom sketches, but Adam Driver really saved this sketch. Driver played the part of Mr. Parnassus, a Victorian-bootstraps oil tycoon. He was the ancient-old father to Pete Davidson’s character who told the class his twisted, hardboiled success story. Maybe with another host, this sketch would have fallen flat. But Driver brought such an animosity to the character that Davidson let out his inner Jimmy Fallon, and couldn’t resist breaking character a few times.

The Meh

Fornite Squad

It was bound to happen any day now: a Fornite sketch. In this sketch, Driver played an out-of-touch father learning how to play Fortnite to impress his son. With a few of the actors playing identifiable Fornite characters on stage, I appreciated the creativity in the sketch. But the novelty soon wore off, and it was about as annoying as watching a real parent try to play Fortnite.

New Look

This week in awkward Kyle Mooney: Mooney tries to be as cool as castmate Pete Davidson because he’s engaged to Ariana Grande. Jealous of Davidson for being instantly cooler, Mooney tries his hand at being cool, too. This leads Mooney to pull stunts like getting his own famous girlfriend: Wendy Williams. Okay… The duel at the end was pretty funny, at least.

The Bad

The monologue: An afterthought

A sad waste of talent, Adam Driver’s monologue made it to the very end of this list. After the super long and funny cold open, Driver’s shortened monologue seemed like an afterthought. The focus of the monology: not wanting to hear how people’s summers went. Relatable, sure. Expertly executed? Not so much. Perhaps the funniest part was when Kenan Thompson arrived, because Thompson is usually a great scene saver for SNL just with his presence alone.

Neo-Confederate Meeting

Maybe Driver’s involvement in BlacKkKlansmen inspired this sketch, but there wasn’t a lot to go on. Neo-confederates held a meeting in search of a white paradise they could all flee to, and Driver’s character suggests Vermont. The sketch probably would have been funnier for people who’ve actually been to Vermont, I can only assume.

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Overall, the SNL season opener had its good moments, but sorely underutilized Adam Driver’s talents. Next week, SNL returns with host Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians) with musical guest Travis Scott.