Saturday Night Live: James Franco, SZA
December 9, 2017 10:37 PM - Season 43, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Host: James Franco, Musical Guest: SZA

  • Santa Land - Kate McKinnon, Kenan Thompson
  • Opening Monologue - James Franco
  • Sexual Harassment Charlie - Beck Bennett, Aidy Bryant, Cecily Strong, Leslie Jones, Melissa VillaseƱor, James Franco, Kenan Thompson, Mikey Day
  • Gift Wrap - Kate McKinnon, James Franco, Heidi Gardner, Beck Bennett, Leslie Jones, Kenan Thompson
  • Scrudge - Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, Alex Moffat, Chris Redd, Heidi Gardner, Mikey Day, James Franco,
  • Spelling Bee - Kate McKinnon, Alex Moffat, James Franco, Melissa VillaseƱor, Luke Null, Chris Redd, Pete Davidson
  • SZA - The Weekend
  • Weekend Update - Michael Che, Colin Jost
    • Cathy Anne - Cecily Strong
    • A White Woman Named Gretchen - Michael Che, Heidi Gardner, Aidy Bryant, Chris Redd, Mikey Day, James Franco, Alex Moffat, Leslie Jones

  • Za - Heidi Gardner, Pete Davidson, Kenan Thompson, James Franco, Chris Redd

  • Christmas Charity - Cecily Strong, James Franco,

  • SZA - Love Galore

  • Franco Family Reunion - James Franco, Heidi Gardner, Dave Franco

posted by DizzyOnBugSpray (21 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Weekend Update segment with Michael Che going undercover as "A White Woman Named Gretchen" was incredibly funny. Word to Lululemon.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:16 AM on December 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

All the pre-filmed bits were good this week, but the sketches weren't funny for me. I feel like James Franco isn't good live? He was great in Christmas Charity.
posted by gladly at 7:33 AM on December 10, 2017

Two sketches where he plays himself? What is he, a politician?
posted by ckape at 10:21 AM on December 10, 2017

Needed more Seth Rogen.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:49 AM on December 10, 2017

This was...ok, I guess. I found myself wandering my apartment and checking out the Drew Carey Show a little so I missed most of the news. Seems like the Gift Wrap and Za sketches were mostly hammering some improv exercises, possibly to stretch time. Spelling Bee and Scrudge were my favorites. Reunion had good bones but suffered in execution.
posted by rhizome at 1:14 PM on December 10, 2017

I thought it was OK with a couple of annoying low points. I felt like last week's much-lauded Welcome to Hell thing was more like some Buzzfeed listicle than satire, and this week things swung hard the other way with two sketches where women en masse were depicted as smug idiots. With the sexual harassment thing it felt like we were supposed to sympathize with Franco's businessman character, who just wanted to say relatively mild sexist stuff to women, while the women were being harsh to him and they were fawning over a superficially charming but truly predatory old black guy. WTF? Then we had Che's Gretchen bit in WU, which just felt like an endless regurgitation of cliches about those clueless, entitled liberal white women. Sometimes I get the feeling Che dislikes lefties and women almost as much as he dislikes Trump's gang, and that's not a good look on a comedian in 2017. SNL's feminist comedy can feel really preachy and contrived, like they're ticking off a bunch of boxes. (Last week they literally had Leslie Jones interrupt the Welcome to Hell sketch to tell the pretty feminist white ladies that feminist black ladies have it so much worse, to which they all promptly agreed. That didn't feel like a joke so much as an attempt to avoid an angry article on the Root.) Then you have stuff like this, which just seems like the male writers pushing back without much intelligence or empathy. It's like there's a low-grade tug-of-war going on in the writers' room. The feminist comedy seems "thoughtful" to a fault, while the anti-feminist stuff doesn't seem thoughtful at all.

I thought Franco did fine, and his commitment was the only thing that kept the pizza bit from being a train wreck. He's one of the gigglers, but when he's not giggling he seems to know what he's doing. I liked his weird read in the spelling bee sketch. (Although I suspect it's pronounced like Euro-philiac, James. As in urinary.)

Leslie Jones had a really weird energy in the bit where Franco was bleeding all over the place. She's often kind of stiff in sketches, but this time she seemed so genuinely upset that I wondered if she was choking on a mouthful of prop blood and she was going to hurl or something. Maybe it was just a great performance, but I had the feeling she was really going through something there. And oh God, those poor kids in the cold open! Most of them were great, but when those other kids froze it was excruciating. Putting little children on live TV and expecting them to carry a sketch turns out to maybe not be such a great idea.

Man, I hope Heidi Gardner's "Franco's weird cousin" character doesn't become recurring. That sketch kind of dragged and I got this bad tingle like they were trying her out to see if maybe she could be every guest host's cousin. The show doesn't lean on plodding recurring sketches like it used to, and that's a good thing. No more The Californians, ever!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:42 PM on December 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think I almost lost consciousness when the candy cane jar started filling with blood. That was intense.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 2:17 PM on December 10, 2017

I enjoyed the Santa sketch, but the Charlie one was wrong. No woman would be finding Charlie charming just because he comes off as friendly if he was doing that shit. Even if he was an old man. Nope nope nope.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:53 PM on December 10, 2017

The Franco character had a lot more power relative to the women. While harassment is harassment, the power differential exacerbated the offenses. That power dynamic needs to be highlighted some so people understand that it does make a difference.

Not excusing the other guy.
posted by amtho at 8:37 PM on December 10, 2017

I really thought Leslie Jones was on the verge of puking too. Turns out she was! That makes it the best sketch of the night.
posted by ejs at 10:53 PM on December 10, 2017 [5 favorites]

Thank you ejs, I came to Fanfare to see if Leslie Jones was really freaking out. It looked that way to me.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:48 PM on December 10, 2017

God, poor Jones! It's really impressive how she was still trying to choke out her lines at a moment like that. Of course, if she had puked in that sketch, it would've become a legendary SNL moment. How has this show done 40+ seasons of live episodes, many of them with casts coked up to the tits, without even one onstage puking?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:03 AM on December 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

A couple of the sketches were derivative of older sketches. The Che as the white woman one reminded me of Eddie Murphy's White Like me and the gift wrapping sketch was very similar to the Dan Aykroyd Julie child sketch.

Good to know that about Leslie. I was trying to figure out what was going on, I couldn't imagine her lines were just "pretend to choke"

The Santa Land opener had me laughing out loud a couple of times. They always take a risk having kids in live sketches and there were a couple of times when Keenan saved the sketch. He's a pro.

I almost went to bed during Franco Family Reunion. That was a pretty annoying character.

He often doesn't do much other than be Steve Martin, but I am always totally happy when Steve Martin shows up.
posted by bondcliff at 7:12 AM on December 11, 2017

That was more life I've seen in Steve Martin than I've seen in at least one decade, possibly two.

I watched Gift Wrap again last night. Franco basically spit a mouthful of the blood into Leslie's mouth.
posted by rhizome at 9:57 AM on December 11, 2017

I started to post comments that took longer to write than the part of the episode I watched. Basically everything ursula said about the dumping on women.

Also: the gift wrapping sketch was very similar to the Dan Aykroyd Julie child sketch.

Yep, that's when I said, "Danny did this better 40 years ago, bye."

And why not just have some of the cast play kids? (Bring back Vanessa Bayer!)
posted by NorthernLite at 6:53 PM on December 11, 2017

That could be a good sign. Jost already having held the position means it's a bigger promotion for Che, and perhaps Jost is there for seniority and as a moderating influence (Lorne's avatar) as Che takes a bigger role.
posted by rhizome at 6:34 PM on December 12, 2017

Here's hoping we don't see the feminist stuff completely buried in favor of, "White feminist women and their brunches, amirite?"
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:32 PM on December 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I hated the blood sketch so much. Ugh.

I thought the Gretchen sketch was funny. I was just talking with (another white, feminist woman) friend about how the harshest callouts we see on race stuff are from other white people, especially white women, and how weird a dynamic this is. So this was well-timed for me.
posted by lunasol at 5:01 PM on December 18, 2017

Prince Santa!
posted by rhizome at 1:18 AM on December 24, 2017

Too bad they cut that, it might have been the funniest bit in the show! Was that Danica McKellar (AKA Winnie Cooper) as one of the vaguely-familiar actors? (Also, was this one of those things that seems like it's taking the piss out of some company but it's actually really weird product placement?)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:43 AM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

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