After finally watching it on my DVR, I was going to get around to writing a review of “Saturday Night Live At Home,” but then I read Jen Chaney’s piece for Vulture and realized she said everything I wanted to — and more. An excerpt:
There was something fundamentally awkward about the Saturday Night Live at Home experience that couldn’t be avoided. Almost every sketch wound up being a riff on a digital form: Pete Davidson’s rap parodies, Mikey Day’s Twitch gamer show “Cam Playz Dat,” Heidi Gardner’s adaptation of her “Weekend Update” bit as the YouTube video “Bailey at the Movies,” Kate McKinnon’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg impression reimagined as workout video, Ego Nwodim’s funny makeup tutorial done with Crayola markers. Given the limits of having to do everything individually and online, this kind of repetition was inevitable and understandable. That didn’t make it less repetitive.
The SNL staple that seems easiest to replicate in a videoconferencing format is “Weekend Update,” but even that didn’t work quite as well as it could have. Colin Jost and Michael Che made the decision to include a laugh track, a.k.a. Zoom audio of a handful of staffers cracking up at their jokes about Bernie Sanders and Rudy Giuliani. That was supposed to make “Weekend Update” feel more like it does under normal circumstances, but it had the opposite effect: It was a distraction that made the whole segment seem like a contrived exercise in trying too hard.