TV Lists

Was “Saturday Night Live at Home” Better Than the Usual Show?

In a world increasingly moving away from traditional TV formats, maybe this is the way the show should be.

When's the last time you actually watched an episode of Saturday Night Live all the way through?

If you're younger than 60, you probably consume the iconic short form comedy show mostly in clips shared on the Internet. It used to be that fans would have to watch the entirety of the broadcast to see the few comedic gems amidst the mediocre filler, but now all you have to do is wait for your social media algorithms to decide which skits are worth your time. This has had the affect of making SNL much less about the flow of the entire show and much more about the individual skits and bits. Now, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, this is more true than ever.

For the first time ever, SNL aired a special non-live version of the show this past weekend. All of the skits were pre-recorded in the comedian's various homes. Tom Hanks hosted, which only consisted of an opening monologue, introducing the musical act, Chris Martin, and a good-bye. Tons of famous SNL alums and other regulars made appearances, including Larry David, Alec Baldwin, Fred Armisen, and more.

This version of SNL was not the polished, high-budget production audiences are used to. Instead, it was simpler, messier, and incredibly charming. One might even argue that in removing all the usual frills of the show, the "At Home" version allowed the brilliant comedic talent of the SNL cast to shine in a way that isn't usually possible.

One thing is definite: We got way more viral, ultra-sharable clips than usual. So maybe this is the future of skit comedy: shorter, simpler bits ready to be shared online. Whether you preferred this version of SNL or not, it's definitely worth checking out some of the show's highlights.

5. Tom Hanks Opening Monologue

Tom Hanks hosts 1st remote 'Saturday Night Live' at home l GMA www.youtube.com


4. Larry David as Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders Address - SNL youtu.be


3. Kate Mckinnon RBG Workout

RBG Workout - SNL youtu.be


2. Zoom Call

Zoom Call - SNL youtu.be


1. Quarantine Masterclass With Timothée Chalamet

MasterClass Quarantine Edition - SNL youtu.be

MUSIC

Why Is Wale So Insecure?

As the rapper gears up to release his sixth studio album next week, lets revisit how Wale developed a reputation of being corny

To look at the history of Wale is to dive down a rabbit hole with many twists and turns.

As a rapper, he travels in prominent circles but has never seemed to quite fit in with his mainstream peers. His success has always come in the form of radio-ready singles, while his longer projects have historically garnered tepid critical reviews. The rapper seemed to have found his footing in the early-2010s. 2011's Ambition and 2013's The Gifted were crowning achievements for the rapper, the latter going number 1 on the Billboard album charts, while the former spawned the single "Lotus Flower Bomb," which went platinum and earned a Grammy nomination. For the first time since his debut, Wale's talent was noted in the public eye, and he wanted his due respect.

So when Complex's annual roundup of "50 Best Albums of the Year" exempted Wale's The Gifted from the list, Wale was fed up. He called the magazine and berated the staff, at one point threatening violence. The phone call made the rounds online and painted Wale as cocky, corny, and overly sensitive. In a tense interview later that year, Wale stood by his antics, saying he wouldn't apologize to "Williamsburg hipsters." It was the perfect example of what has forever been Wale's Achilles Heel: He tries too hard to be liked. "They think he has reacted to too much," said Joe Budden of Wale's haters. "Anytime your reactions are perceived to be emotion-based [it's corny in Hip-Hop,] and Wale has emotionally reacted to so much."

Is Wale Corny? | The Joe Budden Podcast www.youtube.com

But does an emotional reaction mean Wale should be dismissed as a viable artist? No, but his antics are painfully hard to overlook. In 2017 the rapper went on Everyday Struggle to talk about his fourth album, Shine. The album was a commercial flop, partially because the rapper aggressively leaned on radio-friendly sounds. "There's not a song here that feels grounded in much more than the desire to enjoy the moment or at least feign doing so well enough to make radio playlists," wrote Pitchfork. Shine was littered with potential summer hits, but they all sounded fraudulent and none of them sounded like Wale. The project felt rushed and curated for a very specific purpose, with singles like "My Love" coming off as a desperate hail Mary for mainstream relevance at a time when Wale felt his star was waning.

But in some ways, he was still highly discussed. Wale's previous project, 2015's The Album About Nothing, was warmly received by critics and served as a comeback of sorts for the rapper. It was a thematic continuation of the Seinfeld-tropes that put Wale on the map in 2008, with the welcomed addition of Jerry Seinfeld himself. Together, the comedian and rapper filmed a series of charming videos, both in the studio and at a coffee shop, discussing everything from music to strippers to Wale's over-sensitivity. Seinfeld directly helped with the album, and the duo even filmed a skit in which Seinfeld pressures Wale to make the infamous Complex call in 2013. The album went to number 1 on the Billboard 200 its debut week and was Wale's first number one project since 2013. "Why do you give these people meaning?" Seinfeld asks Wale at one point, referring to haters. "I don't know, Jerry!" Wale responds.

Seinfeld & Wale Talk “The List" | Complex www.youtube.com

Frank conversations like these, ones which paint the rapper as passionate and relatable, are what made the lack of authenticity on Shine so surprising. It seemed like Wale had turned a corner. It seemed he had realized that seeking everyone's approval is futile. But as Shine suffered, the question resurfaced as to whether or not Wale was just a try-hard willing to do whatever it took to stay famous. It seemed his identity was reliant on being our friend. "A lot of the mainstream artists that you're championing right now, I don't believe in my mind they're capable of making a song like 'Golden Salvation,'" Wale told Everyday Struggle when they confronted him on why Shine performed so poorly. The song, which was a deep cut off The Gifted, is a dense analysis of consumerism, and it critiques rappers that claim to stand by religion without embodying its teachings. But that was 2013. The hosts pressed him for more clarification. He then dove into an awkward verse-by-verse re-hash of his song "CC White," the only lyrical track on Shine. The track is lyrically stimulating, but the strange re-hash and overall denial of Shine's failure brought the discussion of the emcee's insecurity back into the limelight.

There is no doubt a lot of pressure on Wale in 2019. With the success of his radio singles now in the rear view due to the popularity of streaming, it's hard to see where Wale will fit in a genre that is overcrowded with budding talent. "I feel when the radio single kinda died, Wale died with it," said Joe Budden of Wale's relevancy.

It's sad if that's true. The emcee has a lot to be proud of. He's worked with a diverse array of artists including Lady Gaga, Jerry Seinfeld, Pharrell, and Waka Flocka Flame, and has proven to be a lyrical underdog to boot. With the release of his new album, Wow...That's Crazy, we can only hope he shifts focus to the lyrical content that has always been his passion, and disregard the rest. "They told me to get help...so I did," Wale wrote on Instagram before announcing the album. The collection will thematically follow Wale's journey through therapy, which seems like a fitting place for the rapper to end up at this point in his luke-warm career. One can only hope the project is genuine, because if it isn't, it might just label him corny for the rest of time. "Let me tell you why they don't like you," Seinfeld said to Wale. "Every person has a different reason, and none of them have anything to do with you." Wale snapped back, "Aren't I allowed to wanna know why, though?" Let's hope he's found his answer.

Wale - On Chill (feat. Jeremih) [Official Music Video] www.youtube.com

TV

SNL 2020 DNC Election Impressions RANKED

Voters need to think about which person they'd prefer to see consistently parodied on Saturday Night Live.

NBC/Saturday Night Live

When deciding who to vote for in the 2020 Democratic primary, there's more to consider than the candidates' policies and whether or not they'll push to prosecute Trump for treason.

Voters also need to think about which person they'd prefer to see consistently parodied on Saturday Night Live.

In their Season 45 premiere, SNL debuted their full slate of 2020 DNC characters, including one major surprise celebrity appearance. We've gone to the trouble of ranking the impressions so you know which candidates you can safely vote for (assuming you base your entire vote on a sketch comedy show):

DNC Town Hall - SNL www.youtube.com

9. Colin Jost as Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg SNL NBC/Saturday Night Live

This one is probably more on the writers than on Colin Jost. Buttigieg barely got any screen time or any jokes, and Jost didn't look much like him either.

8. Chris Redd as Cory Booker

Cory Booker SNL NBC/Saturday Night Live

Again, this ranking falls on the writers. Obviously Cory Booker isn't a relevant candidate, so it's hard to fault SNL for writing him out immediately, but Redd's wild-eyed impression is funny for the five seconds it lasts.

7. Chloe Fineman as Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson SNL NBC/Saturday Night Live

It's nearly impossible to parody Marianne Williamson when she's already a living parody of herself. SNL newcomer Chloe Fineman definitely put herself out there in her role, but unfortunately falls short of Williamson's real-life lunacy.

6. Bowen Yang as Andrew Yang

Andrew Yang SNL NBC/Saturday Night Live

While only onscreen for a single shot, Bowen Yang's stiff-shouldered, almost robotic performance is a pretty spot-on impression of the real Andrew Yang. Andrew Yang seemed to enjoy it, too, tweeting praise for Bowen Yang alongside a note for the writers: "Tip to the @nbcsnl writers - you should work on some new lines for @bowenyang because I'll be here all through 2020."

5. Alex Moffat as Beto O'Rourke

Beto Orourke SNL NBC/Saturday Night Live

Possibly SNL's most under-rated cast member, Alex Moffat kills just about every character role he gets (especially Eric Trump, who he portrays as a barely functional idiot). In the small bit of screen time he gets here, Moffat aces O'Rourke, too, honing in on the totally not self-aware, wannabe-cool-guy vibe that lead a losing Senate candidate to run for president.

4. Larry David as Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders SNL NBC/Saturday Night Live

Larry David basically is Bernie Sanders. He captures the angry New England grandpa so well that Bernie Sanders might as well be portraying himself. At this point, the rankings come down to writing, and unfortunately, the Bernie Sanders jokes don't land as well as the top three.

3. Kate McKinnon as Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren SNL NBC/Saturday Night Live

While all the other candidates' jokes seem to come at the expense of their real-world counterparts, every Elizabeth Warren joke is designed to kind-of, maybe, possibly be usable as taglines for Warren if she wanted. Elizabeth Warren really does have "the energy of a mother of five boys who all play a different sport," and Kate McKinnon nails that energy perfectly. It's clear that the SNL staff are mostly behind Warren (as everyone should be), but that also means that the jokes have a little less bite.

2. Woody Harrelson as Joe Biden

Joe Biden SNL NBC/Saturday Night Live

Definitely the biggest casting surprise, Woody Harrelson plays Joe Biden as toothy and off-putting, prone to constant racial messaging and Obama name-drops. He does an excellent job, perfectly landing Biden's confusion about why people suddenly dislike him: "I'm like plastic straws. I've been around forever, I've always worked, but now you're mad at me?"

1. Maya Rudolph as Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris SNL NBC/Saturday Night Live

Maya Rudolph absolutely slays as Kamala Harris. While the jokes are solid (they really hone in on the "That girl was me" line), Maya Rudolph's performance is next-level. Rudolph is an absolute master of facial expressions, saying more with pursed lips or a pointed smirk than any script could convey. Kamala Harris probably isn't too many people's first choice for president, but if she won, the biggest upside (aside from getting rid of Trump, obviously), would be more Maya Rudolph on SNL.

Oh, and the real Kamala Harris had an awesome exchange with Maya Rudolph on Twitter, too. Talk about earning those likeability points.

TV

Could Someone Please Reassess "Seinfeld" by Woke Standards? I Need to Know If I'm Allowed to Enjoy It

Everything I've ever loved from a bygone era needs to be re-analyzed through a modern lens to determine whether or not it is currently woke, Seinfeld included.

Sony Pictures

It's undeniable that Seinfeld was the quintessential '90s show, perfectly representative of an era before PC culture and 9/11, back when you could call a guy a Nazi for not giving you soup without worrying that anyone would actually think you were calling him a real Nazi.

I spent countless evenings watching "The Puffy Shirt" (that episode always seemed to be playing for some reason), and I cracked up every time that kooky guy with weird hair burst in yelling, "Hey Jerry!" But that was 20 years ago. I'm an adult now. And just like adult me realizes that my head won't actually turn into a deformed banana when I eat Gushers, adult me also believes that everything I've ever loved from a bygone era needs to be re-analyzed through a modern lens to determine whether or not it is currently woke. Since Seinfeld is coming to Netflix in 2021, now seems like a perfect time for someone to really reassess Seinfeld by modern standards.

seinfeld Sony Pictures

If someone were to reassess Seinfeld by modern standards, there are a few burning questions that I'd really like to see explored. For example, the core Seinfeld group is composed of three men and one woman. Isn't that sexist? Wouldn't their friend group be more equally balanced if two of them were women? I'm not entirely sure, but that's something I'd really like to read an Internet writer's take on.

Also, if I remember correctly, all four of them are Jewish, which doesn't seem particularly diverse to me, but I'm also not sure if that's an appropriate thing to say about a minority group. If Seinfeld came out today, at least one of them would probably be non-white, but I'll leave the discussion of the details up to the writer who one day will hopefully tackle this important subject matter.

seinfeld newman Sony Pictures

Another thought: I always found Newman very funny, but I worry that part of the humor was derived from his portly appearance. I'm not sure if it's kosher to laugh at physical comedy nowadays, especially when it comes at the expense of an actor who may not have realized that audiences thought he looked silly. Was Seinfeld intending to fat-shame Newman? That would be very uncool in a modern context considering our current body positivity culture. On the other hand, maybe Newman was supposed to be representative of Americans embracing their bodies even when they don't conform to unrealistic body standards, in which case Seinfeld might have been ahead of the curve. I really have no idea, so perhaps someone else could better inform me on whether or not it's still okay to laugh at Newman.

George Costanza Sony Pictures

Unfortunately, even if it is still okay to enjoy the physical comedy of Seinfeld, navigating the narrative might be a real minefield. For instance, many of George's plotlines revolve around his relationships with women. In many of those relationships, George behaves badly, to say the least. Some of his behavior might even be considered manipulative or gaslighting. It's been a while since I watched, so I don't have any specific examples, but I'd love to see someone really lay into George because I have a feeling that in a modern light, people might view his behavior as somewhat toxic. I hate to say it, but I don't think George Costanza was a very good role model for kids. Maybe we need to #MeToo him?

Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, all of the main characters in Seinfeld were kind of bad people. All four of them were selfish and not particularly nice to one another or the people around them. From what I can remember, every episode revolves around the characters getting into some sort of conflict that was usually their own fault. Is that the kind of television show that modern audiences would be interested in watching––one starring characters of dubious morality? I'm not so sure.

Kramer Sony Pictures

Even worse, it looks like the kooky hair guy was played by Michael Richards, a comedian who went on a racist tirade in 2006. That racist tirade definitely would not hold up nowadays. In fact, I'm fairly certain that if Michael Richards said those things now, he would be canceled on Twitter. This new information presents an important ethical dilemma for modern day viewers: Can we still enjoy Seinfeld now, even though one of the actors said something very offensive 13 years ago? Certainly, this is a unique problem of our modern times that no humans have ever encountered or addressed prior. I'm positive that if anyone were to write a piece really exploring that question, it would be a real watershed moment in media criticism.

Furthermore, is it even possible to enjoy a TV show from yesteryear when the potential exists for someone somewhere on the Internet to re-analyze it later? What if we enjoy it now, but then a few years down the line (when social mores have changed even further), someone writes a think piece that puts everything in an entirely new perspective? Scarier, what if we read their take on the subject, and then still enjoy the show regardless? Is that okay? Are we allowed to apply nuance to the shows we like and understand that media, especially comedy, doesn't exist in a vacuum and that multiple perspectives can be equally valid at the same time? Or perhaps, we should just cancel ourselves upfront?

I don't know the answer, but I hope someone writes an article about it soon.

Frontpage Popular News

Love at (Almost) First Sight – Ariana Grande Engaged to Pete Davidson

They've Only Been Dating for a Few Weeks

Bustle.com

Mazel Tov!

Singer Ariana Grande is officially off the market. After dating for just a few weeks, SNL's Pete Davidson must have really "liked it" and "put a ring on it!" The successful stars saw forever in one another even though they have not spent more than a mere month "boo-ed up" as a couple. Hey, when you know it, you know it, right?

tmz.com

According to an insider, "They are a perfect fit. They are not rushing to get married. Their friends are really excited and supportive. They are both constantly making each other laugh. Their moms have met. They've been very public with their relationship on social media, and they are very in love."

As per TMZ, Davidson asked for Grande's hand in marriage last week and she apparently said "yes." But before the gorgeous Grande found her hilarious husband-to-be, she was dating rapper Mac Miller. "Miller time" was short-lived, but hopefully for Davidson, his red hot romance with the pop princess lasts a lifetime.

If Davidson was Grande's "rebound relationship," then she fills the same shoes for him, as Davidson was previously linked to Curb Your Enthusiasm's Larry David's daughter, Cazzie. Surely, David has some sarcastic musings about his daughter's ex's new honey.

And Davidson must have known his love for Grande would last. He inked himself with a couple of Grande-themed tats behind his ear after dating her for a couple of weeks. If he was willing to permanently pen himself, then what's the big deal about a piece of paper making it official?

tmz.com

Both stars are only 24-years-old, but young love is a powerful thing. We wish them much love and happiness in their upcoming marriage…and not in the "Hollywood" sense, but for all the days of their lives.

akns-images.eonline.com


Melissa A. Kay is a New York-based writer, editor, and content strategist. Follow her work on Popdust as well as sites including TopDust, Chase Bank, P&G, Understood.org, The Richest, GearBrain, The Journiest, Bella, TrueSelf, Better Homes & Gardens, AMC Daycare, and more.


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THE REAL REEL | Could Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm Be Anti-Racist Art?

Could Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm Be Anti-Racist Art?

As one of the lead writers and executive producers of the revered show Seinfeld, and writer and star of his current show Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David, has always pushed the envelope with respect to challenging social norms. Being able to watch characters refuse to just go along with widely accepted "normal" behavior is both hysterical and exciting for the average well-behaved, self conscious, repressed American. David's character on Curb (Lets just call him Larry) is completely un-PC and dares to say aloud what we are all thinking. In the privacy of our own homes without any consequences, except squirming into our own couches, we get to watch Larry play out all of our "Id" fantasies. In Larry's world, there is no holding back, no weighing of social consequences, just a black and white universe where he filters nothing and publicly digests everything. Larry moves through life attempting to meet his immediate needs, stating the social hypocrisies that he cannot bear to tolerate and finds completely unjust. And of course audiences are entertained as he often winds up paying for his choices by getting kicked out of various facilities, peoples' homes, and even their lives. I love watching this man.

Before you remind me that Larry can be a pompous, privileged ass, and wonder if I am forgetting that he is an affluent white straight man, (so the social risks he takes are not that big of a deal since he has less to lose), I want to assure you that I am aware. He isn't worried that his outrageous behavior in a store will get him shot, or that his inappropriate remarks to women will bring on a lawsuit, or that his rude criticism to a hotel manager will get him taken away in handcuffs. He can afford to "blow things up" so to speak.

That being said, his ego takes a hefty beating that even few privileged folks I know would be willing to risk. It would be easy to write off Larry's character as an old, sexist, racist dude. However I argue quite the opposite. Privilege aside, it is Larry's lack of concern for the way he is perceived, that actually allows him to be culturally subversive, and even an advocate for minorities at times. "WHAT!?" you say? Yes, I said Larry is actually an advocate for marginalized populations at times. HE IS. Let me explain.

In one of the recent episodes of Curb, Larry hits a guy's car (who winds up being a total jerk) and his friend Jeff recommends a mechanic to Larry for his own car's damages. Larry talks to the mechanic on the phone and sets up a time to bring in the car. On the day Larry brings the car in, he meets the mechanic in person and sees that he is Black. The first words out of Larry's mouth are something like "oh, you're Black." The mechanic's race was different than Larry envisioned over the phone. Now, a couple of things are going on here. In our society, sociologists argue that not only do we all notice race, it's counterproductive to pretend that we don't. Many Americans still think that if you admit that you notice someone's race, or even mention someone's race, that you must be racist. So of course, when Larry says something like "oh I didn't know you were Black," he sounds like a racist…but really he is saying what most white people are thinking. Just by saying that assumption aloud, Larry makes white viewers squirm in their seats, particularly those viewers who are privileged enough to be able to go days, weeks, and even years without mentioning race. Larry is calling out the elephant in the room here… 'come on white people…you know you see Blackness', and white viewers are clenching their fists and squirming, mortified that Larry is betraying their inner "inappropriate" thoughts. Guess what America… we all see race, and Larry knows this. Seeing race is not the problem.

Larry takes his subversive comedy to another level when Leon (his Black roommate who lives in the pool house) answers Larry's door one day and allows the white guy (who has been extremely aggressive and angry towards Larry for hitting his car) to believe that Leon (a Black guy) is Larry. The white guy, assuming Larry was white is clearly caught off guard. He did the same, but reverse thing Larry just did, assuming over the phone that the person he was talking to was white, and is now faced with the fact that not only was the guy who hit his car Black, this white guy had been being a total jerk to him over the phone. When he assumed Larry was white, he was aggressive, cocky, and told Larry he was going to get the "most expensive estimate from the dealer." When Larry and Leon trick the guy into thinking Larry is Black, the guy spirals into shame, embarrassment, and clearly white-guilt, telling "Black Larry" (actually Leon) that he can just forget about the estimate, forget about the accident, and apologizes awkwardly and hastily, leaving Larry's house as apologetically as possible.

Here, we see Larry's show "poking the bear" of white-guilt. This episode is only funny because it capitalizes on the guilt many white people feel but don't know what to do with and certainly don't know how to articulate. In a world where we are trying to make Black Lives Matter, white people are still so scared to talk about race, it's implications in our society, and even admit that they notice it. While Larry's comedy is a slight exaggeration, he still succeeds at pointing out that if well meaning white people can't even mention race, we are far from being able to fight racism.

Larry is having none of that. Larry, as a white man is calling white people's bluff. OF COURSE YOU NOTICE SOMEONES RACE, of course you feel guilty that you don't have to experience racism as a white person. Larry also points out that, that doesn't make you racist and that it only makes you a hilarious subject of one of his skits. It's 2017, and if you are still a white person pretending not to notice race…well than you are a joke and Larry will make sure we laugh at you.

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