Saturday Night Live had one less problem when Ariana Grande stepped in to do double duty as host and musical guest this week. The pop singer, who previously served as musical guest for the Season 40 premiere, proved she has more comedy chops than she ever showcased on Sam and Cat — and she headlined what may have been the most musical episode of SNL ever.
Still, her appearance didn’t go off without a hitch. Midway during her musical monologue about her imagined future scandals, Grande slipped up and dropped the s-word before censors could bleep it out during the live East Coast broadcast. We’ll have to see if there’s any fallout from that, but other than her (possibly) fineable FCC faux pas, Grande’s hosting debut was nearly flawless.
Best Sketch: Feminist Song
Girl power ruled this week, as Grande and the ladies of SNL — Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, Sasheer Zamata, Vanessa Bayer, Aidy Bryant, and Leslie Jones — teamed up for a prerecorded music video about feminism, while trying to convince us that the song wasn’t actually about feminism. This latest SNL all-female musical number had the women declaring that it’s impossible to write a song about sisterhood without offending someone. Bottom line: It’s pretty hard to write a feminist song, but it’s not hard to write a catchy one, so good luck getting this one out of your head this week.
Runner Up: The Drunkest Contestant on The Bachelor
We’re surprised it took this long for Cecily Strong to debut this character — after all, the Internet couldn’t help but notice how much this season’s Bachelor contestant Lace resembles Strong’s Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party. “I know that I am great TV,” Strong-as-Lace slurs, and she’s right.
Worst Sketch: Kids’ Choice Awards
For the first time in weeks, there really wasn’t a terrible sketch. So we’ll go with one that ran a little too long. Just hours after the real Kids’ Choice Awards aired on Grande’s former home, the Nickelodeon network, the singer played red carpet reporter Brynlee Dobbs in a sketch that had three hosts awkwardly trying to fill time before announcing the beginning of the kid-friendly awards show. Grande’s Brynlee was joined by Reece Better (Taran Killam) and Jesse Kerk-Fatone (Vanessa Bayer), and they all mastered the freeze face as they announced multiple false starts to the KCAs. All that was missing was the green slime.
Best Use of Ariana Grande: Tidal Streaming Headquarters
Grande stepped into Bruno Mars’ shoes in this returning theme, which had the “Problem” singer playing Chloe, a Tidal intern who saves the day with her pop star vocals when a system-fail crisis threatens the music steaming service. (Mars’ version was about rival site Pandora.) Grande sang her heart out, delivering perfect knockoffs of Britney Spears, Shakira, Rihanna, Celine Dion and Whitney Houston. The only pop diva she refused to pull off? Ariana Grande. Chloe said she’s “not a big fan.”
Episode MVP: Larry David
We will never tire of Larry David’s spot-on Bernie Sanders impersonation. In this week’s cold open, both David and Darrell Hammond were back as Sanders and Donald Trump, with a hilarious opener that had David’s Sanders questioning what a superdelegate was (“So cocky!” he said of the term), and telling his social media savvy supporters to “get a life.”
After touting his supporters of all ages (you know, “18-year-olds, 19-year-olds”), David/ Sanders issued this mea culpa: “I’d like to apologize to everyone else for making your Facebook feeds so annoying. I’m great but I’m not five-posts-a-day great.” The comic nailed his cameo so well that we can even forgive him for flubbing Ariana Grande’s name when he introduced her musical performance later in the show.
Saturday Night Live airs weekly at 11:35 p.m. on NBC