Are SNL‘s growing pains over as it enters its 40th season? It certainly didn’t seem that way from the show’s bizarre season opener. While Chris Pratt—and Chris Pratt’s abs, in a supporting role—conducted themselves amiably, the show seemed to lack the festive air we’d expect from a premiere tied to such an important season. Instead, it seemed on a mission to prove that a new era has come to Studio 8H—one with a markedly different tone.
There was only one notable cameo, and it came from Pratt’s wife, Anna Faris—not, as might have been expected, his Parks and Recreation costar Amy Poehler. In fact, there was little about the show that was familiar. It seemed intent on showing off the new generation, lingering on new cast member Pete Davidson and its brand-new Weekend Update lineup. Even Leslie Jones, an SNL writer who joined the show midway through last year and made a controversial appearance on Update in May, had a chance to show off her material.
This confidence resonates better than last season’s opener, when the new cast members were forced to endure the “New Cast Member or Arcade Fire” sketch. But in doing so, the show seemed to push aside some of its strongest, more veteran players, like Kate McKinnon and Vanessa Bayer. Let’s move on to specifics: