“Saturday Night Live” was bound to make headlines.
Alec Baldwin, after building on his Donald Trump impression for five-plus months, was hosting for a 17th time. And after Melissa McCarthy’s devastating turn as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer last week, much of the Internet had been hoping for a female-led cast to play the president’s administration. Would the show enlist Rosie O’Donnell, who was willing and available, to guest as Trump’s right-hand man Steve Bannon? (She has the Twitter profile picture, after all.)
In the end, there was no O’Donnell, but “SNL” had four sketches related to Trump. The episode brought in a 7.2 overnight rating in metered market households — its highest overnight ratings since 2011, according to NBC.
The show kicked off with McCarthy returning as Spicer for the cold open. This bit on Spicer’s daily press briefings hit on a number of news topics, including Trump’s tweets about Nordstrom pulling his daughter Ivanka’s clothing line, as well as a presentation on the “extreme” vetting of people entering the U.S. (McCarthy’s Spicer’s gets the point across with Barbie and Moana dolls, saying of the former, “We know she’s OK because she’s blonde.”)
The sketch also featured Kate McKinnon playing recently confirmed Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions.
Elsewhere in the episode, McKinnon reprised her take on Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway — this time, as a psychopath. The filmed sketch showed Conway in full-on “Fatal Attraction” mode, with McKinnon breaking into the home of CNN anchor Jake Tapper (played by Beck Bennett) after not booking her for an appearance.
"I just want to be part of the news," McKinnon’s Conway said.
“We can’t put you on TV if you’re just going to keep lying,” Bennett's Tapper responded.
The skit comes after CNN's communications team said the news outlet did not invite Conway on Tapper’s Sunday morning show “State of the Union” last week. (Tapper did an interview with Conway a couple of days later.)
McKinnon essentially did a round of political musical chairs in Saturday’s episode. She also played Elizabeth Warren later during “Weekend Update.”
Another filmed segment featured Leslie Jones deciding she wanted to impersonate Donald Trump. Jones, who is black, donned a blonde wig and eyebrows.
“I never dreamed I could play the president,” Jones said in the skit. “But then Melissa played Spicer and I was like, ‘Yo, why can’t I play Trump?’”
Jones auditions as Trump for “SNL” Executive Producer Lorne Michaels, to no avail. “Not going to happen,” he says. Vanessa Bayer also appears in the sketch as Trump for an audition.
Somewhat surprisingly, given that he was host, Baldwin’s impression of Trump came somewhat late in the episode. In his eventual appearance, Baldwin’s POTUS finally had his day in court over the blocked travel ban.
A day in “The People’s Court.”
Baldwin’s Trump took on the 9th Circuit judges who declined to reinstate the travel ban.
“Mr. Trump, you understand that this is a TV court, right?” said “The People’s Court” judge, played by Cecily Strong.
“That’s OK, I’m a TV president,” Baldwin’s Trump said.
The sketch also featured the return of the Grim Reaper as Steve Bannon, while Bennett’s shirtless Putin served as a character witness for Trump.
For those keeping a scorecard, four women played men in Saturday’s episode: Jones and Bayer as Trump; McKinnon as Sessions, and McCarthy as Spicer. A tidbit that bears noting after Politico reported that Trump had been displeased after last week’s “SNL” because Spicer had been impersonated by a woman (McCarthy).
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Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles TimesDonald Trump Kate McKinnon Leslie Jones Kellyanne Conway Stephen Bannon Rosie O'Donnell Sean Spicer