Huh. That was a weird episode of Saturday Night Live.
What should have been an episode focused on Dakota Johnson (since she was the host) wound up being the capstone to a week of NBC and Jimmy Fallon pushing Justin Timberlake back into the spotlight.
Besides the teasing of an *NSYNC reunion tour that never came to fruition, Justin Timberlake has been laying low, especially in light of recent revelations about his relationship with Britney Spears. It’s been over a decade since Timberlake hosted SNL or was the show’s musical guest, and over that time, the vibe around him has definitely shifted.
Which made it odd to see how hard Fallon was pushing Timberlake on The Tonight Show this past week. If you follow the show on social media, clips of the duo hamming it up as if it were still the early 2010s inundated your feed. I had a hunch that we’d see Fallon pop up in some form during this episode of SNL, but I didn’t expect to see him featured so heavily. In addition to a cringy appearance during Johnson’s monologue, this episode gave us the first new installment of Fallon and Timberlake’s “Barry Gibb Talk Show” since 2013.
Look, I get that SNL loves its cameos, but a former castmember coming back for the musical guest — not the actual host — is strange. (And that’s before we get to the optics of a female host being pushed into the background to focus on Timberlake and Fallon’s schtick.)
“But Justin Timberlake is a member of the Five-Timers Club!” is an excuse for SNL rolling out “The Barry Gibb Talk Show” in this episode. OK, then have Justin Timberlake host.
Also, super weird to have Dave Chappelle hanging around on stage during goodbyes. He didn’t appear in any sketches. (In fairness, Chappelle barely appears in sketches when he’s actually hosting.) Why have someone that divisive sharing the spotlight with the cast?
Before we jump into this edition of Deep SNL Thoughts, can I ask for a favor? Can you take a few minutes to fill out the first ever Popculturology Reader Survey? After more than a year of writing this newsletter (and with the migration putting everything on the table), I’d love to get your feedback and thoughts. The survey is anonymous unless you want to add your name to say hi.
NFL Championship Sunday Cold Open
This one was a clunker of a cold open. Instead of capitalizing on the political news of the week (maybe after years of having Fred Armisen play Barack Obama, SNL is leery about having Heidi Gardner continue to play Nikki Haley?), the show kicked off with the stars of CBS’ NFL crew lamenting the end of the season.
- “After that, it’s all over”: According to Andrew Dismukes’ Tony Romo, the Super Bowl is for “commercials and Usher and people who never watch football.”
I can’t think of Dakota Johnson’s monologue without thinking about how embarrassing it was to see Fallon run out in full Barry Gibbs makeup and costume. The man is so desperate for attention. (You didn’t see Andy Samberg fawning all over Timberlake this episode despite their Digital Short history.)