It’s been a long, tired season of Donald Trump obsession on “Saturday Night Live.” Last night, perhaps for a bit of juice, the show brought in Dwayne Johnson as host, a man who has teased a potential run for president for quite some time now. But first, how did the program decide to put a bow on its most divisive and partisan season yet?
For the cold open, the writers apparently felt it was a good idea to revisit one of the show’s most unintentionally embarrassing moments: Kate McKinnon’s rendition of “Hallelujah” immediately after Hillary Clinton’s November election loss (in which McKinnon had tears in her eyes as she sung it). It was a maudlin and cringeworthy moment in November that led to mockery — but apparently the show was really, really proud of it. So last night’s repeat of that moment began with Alec Baldwin’s “Donald Trump” sitting at a piano singing the song — as gradually each cast member who has played an administration official this year joined him on stage.
At the end of the song, Baldwin’s Trump barked out, ““I’m not giving up, because I didn’t do anything wrong!” Then he gestured roughly to the team surrounding him at the piano: “But I can’t speak for these people.”
And … that was it for that bit. It was a weak and pitiful attempt to reclaim a moment — and somehow a hope that what happened in November didn’t happen at all.
Then things got interesting. For his opening monologue, Johnson alluded to his recent interview in which he declared he was interested in running for president in 2020. With Baldwin on stage with him, Johnson announced — as he pushed away Baldwin — that he would have Academy Award winner Tom Hanks as his running mate.
Hanks joined him on stage (all are members of the ‘SNL’ “five-time hosting” club) and declared that together, they would earn 100 percent of the votes. He would draw the older voters for his numerous portrayals of World War II characters, said Hanks. And Johnson said he would get the minority vote, because most people assume his ethnicity is, well, “whatever they are.” It was actually some of the most trenchant commentary of the season for the show.
The final “Weekend Update” segment had plenty of material to work with from the past week, yet as we’ve seen before, the effort was lazy and ill-conceived. The hosts referred to Donald Trump as “president for now,” and the coverage of the Comey controversy amounted to essentially repeating a few of the known elements and calling Trump a liar.
A picture of Vice President Mike Pence in baseball attire came up, as the “Update hosts stated he was warming up in the bullpen. In other words, all guilt is assumed — and the conviction is already handed down. And, as usual, “SNL” is essentially delivering exhausted jokes aimed at the Right.
To cap everything off, when the show addressed Trump’s “nut job” comment about Comey, they had to go low: They said they hoped it was not something Trump got in a Russian hotel room. Quite the coda for a season filled with less-than-insightful musings.
What strikes one here is the lopsided cheerleading for one side, and one side only, of the political debate. Clearly the show is encouraging the removal of Trump as president — and they’ve assumed his impeachment is a foregone conclusion. Clearly “SNL” hasn’t thought this through.
The season has seen ratings for the show spike significantly — a direct result of the ascendency of Trump. So the attempt by the show to try to derail the Trump presidency any way it can would also bring an end to its gravy train.