‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: Season 40, Episode 20 with Host Reese Witherspoon

By May 11, 2015

The Mother’s Day episode of “Saturday Night Live” has become a nice tradition much like the Halloween or Christmas episodes, and this one certainly brought some charming moments as the cast was accompanied by their real mothers during host Reese Witherspoon’s monologue (her mother stops by too). However, the rest of the night was hit or miss, with a couple hilarious sketches, and a couple downright terrible pieces. See the entire line-up from last weekends episode below.

The Best

Mr. Westerberg – It was the earnestness of Beck Bennett that really pushed this sketch to be the best for me. He was so naive in his exasperation of all the weird stuff that the boss had him do behind closed doors. It felt so genuine and awkward. I just loved it.

Picture Perfect – Plenty of praise is deserved for this bold sketch, almost to the point that it was nearly the best of the night. However, there was a lot of set up for what was essentially just a single joke. And honestly, I would have preferred if the celebrity on the team who was given the difficult drawing clue would have been someone other than Kenan Thompson as Reginald VelJohnson. But still, Bobby Moynihan made put this in a firm spot as the second best sketch of the night.

High School Theatre Show – It looks like the writers of “SNL” noticed that this sketch worked really well the first time around that it’s officially a recurring bit at least once. It’s not quite as funny this time since the originality is gone, but this high school level production is still so bad and pretentious that it’s still very funny.

The Average

Whiskers R We – Kate McKinnon always makes this weird cat lady worth watching, but it seems to be losing more laughs each time it comes back. However, Reese Witherspoon’s caressing of her boob actually got McKinnon to crack a little bit, which was a nice surprise. But otherwise, here’s some cute cats with weird names for peculiar reasons.

Southern Ladies – Southern accents can only take this sketch so far. This actually felt like a different version of the recurring sketch from years ago where some guys were sitting around, drinking beers and reminiscing about the past while a jukebox tune played in the background, allowing them to breakout in song when the refrain came around. But this time there was no music, just weird, mildly amusing stories. Reese Witherspoon’s possessed husband woes made me laugh quite a bit, but the twist ending felt cheap.

The Worst

2016 Republicans – Isn’t it weird to see normally lifeless Republican candidates try to be pumped in front of a wild crowd? There had to be some better way to poke fun at the cavalcade of Republican presidential candidates. The cast didn’t even really get to showcase impressions of these candidates very much, which seemed like a cop out.

The LA Scene – Well, this was just a disaster. A Depends joke and an audible fart. No thanks.

The Weird

The Waterslide – This sketch felt like such an odd bit. Not only did it feel like it was very short, but having Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney basically play the kind of characters who pop up in their recorded shorts which was kind of disorienting. In addition, this looked to be such a complicated set to build, with a small chunk of a functioning waterslide, that it just seemed like a waste of energy all around. Weird and not very funny.

Weekend Update

While it was nice to see Michael Che and Colin Jost have fun with their Update stories texted to them by their real mothers, that was the only highlight for the duo this time. Otherwise, this time it felt kind of stilted and weak. Again, these two need to show more chemistry and interaction.

Leslie Jones on Social Media – We know what to expect from Leslie Jones at this point, and this segment with her commentary just didn’t work for me. But I do always enjoy her aggressively hitting on Colin Jost.

Two Girls You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party – Reese Witherspoon must be pretty fond of this character to double up with Cecily Strong in this segment. It’s very rare that the host actually pops up in Weekend Update, so this was a very fun addition.

Willie On Graduation – This character keeps surprising me with how well he works as a recurring bit. He’s morbidly cheerful about the worst advice and comments made to him throughout his life, and Thompson’s dedication to his blissful ignorance really makes it land.

The Host

At first glance, it seems like “SNL” didn’t really give Reese Witherspoon much to do. But when I thought about it, she actually just blended in with a solid showcase of the cast. Granted, her characters weren’t crazy or outlandish, and they didn’t really seem to build any of the sketches around her as host, but sometimes that’s for the best. In this case, we had a mixed bag of sketches, some that hit, and others that just fell flat on their face. But Witherspoon was pretty solid as host all around. And as for that monologue above, while it wasn’t raucously funny, it was absolutely adorable. I love that they just used a clip from D2: The Mighty Ducks for Kenan Thompson’s home video.


Saturday Night Live - Bobby Moynihan - Picture Perfect

Bobby Moynihan – Since he starred in my two favorite sketches of the night, Moynihan was undoubtedly the MVP for this episode. His panic during the Picture Perfect sketch was hilarious, and even his work in the relatively unfunny Republicans 2016 sketch brought one of the couple chuckles it pulled out of me. His story during the Mother’s Day monologue was also pretty great.

The Final Word

It wasn’t one of the better episodes of the season, but it also wasn’t the worst. At the very least, this was a charming, mostly tame episode for Mother’s Day. Reese Witherspoon was very comfortable with the cast, and while there were a few great sketches, most of them were fairly forgetting. Here’s hoping the cast and writers are saving their good stuff for the season finale with host Louis C.K. on May 16th.

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Ethan Anderton
Some of his favorite films include Ghostbusters, The Empire Strikes Back and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while his favorite TV series include LOST, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live.
  • lily

    I love your SNL recaps, its so handy to get break downs of the best bits, to be honest i often skip watching it live and wait for the review to get published here to see the best bits 😉