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Saturday Night Live: Brad Pitt plays Dr Anthony Fauci in standout virtual episode | Television & radio


For the second time this month, Saturday Night Live made a surprise return to deliver a new episode filmed remotely. This time, virtual hosting duties fell to Brad Pitt, playing lead member of the White House coronavirus task force, Dr Anthony Fauci. The raspy voiced physician thanks “all the older women in America who have sent me supportive, inspiring and sometimes graphic emails”, before clearing up a number of President Trump’s false claims about coronavirus.

Regarding Trump’s statements about a vaccine being ready “relatively soon”, Fauci explains, “If you were to tell a friend, I’ll be over relatively soon, and then showed up a year-and-a-half later, your friend may be relatively pissed off.” Per the president’s claims that “everyone” has access to the tests, he translates: “What he meant was – almost no one.” By the time he gets to Trump’s latest ramblings, regarding injecting light and disinfectant in the human body, he’s too dumbstruck to even respond. Pitt wraps up by removing his prosthetics and sincerely thanking Fauci and all medical first responders for their service, before announcing: “Live, kinda, from all across America, it’s Saturday Night.”

What’s Up with That: At Home? is a gameshow hosted by Jheri-curled soul singer Diondre Cole (Kenan Thompson). He attempts to introduce the day’s contestants – Charles Barkley, DJ Khalid and perennial guest Linsey Buckingham (Bill Hader) – but his free associative stylings lead him into an nonstop jam session alongside a mini-saxophonist (Fred Armisen), breakdancer (Jason Sudeikis), and Howie Hot Wheels and the Lego Kid (Mikey Day and his real-life son, making the first of two appearances this episode). It’s a funny and funky opener that shows more life than any of the sketches from the previous episode.

Snapchat Filter Reporter sees news anchor Brian Sutter reporting from home about his experience dealing with Covid-19. His vindictive daughter, to whom he passed the virus, uses various Snapchat filters on her phone (from which he’s broadcasting) to turn him into a pirate, baby, and a banana. If you find Snapchat filters funny then you’ll probably get a kick out of this.

Stuck in the House is the latest rap from Pete Davidson about the mindnumbing repetition of our new way of living. This one soars thanks to the silly and sweet contributions of the great Adam Sandler, as well as a very brief and very funny appearance from Rob Schneider.

A commercial for Bartensen’s Grocery Store alerts customers to items still left in stock: frozen Hawaiian Pizza, little bags of dry, hard beans, mint Pringles, Dasani water, Ukrainian yogurt, impossible lobster, Pepto-Bismol Oreos, and more Dasani water (now vegetarian). As many a harried shopper can attest, the list of “certain items we will never not have” is only a tiny bit exaggerated.

Big Papi’s Cooking Show sees motormouthed retired ballplayer and product hype man David Ortiz teach viewers how to use “regular pantry stuff”– such as pollo, jamon, carne molida, langosta Espinosa, manos de mono, legnua de ballena – to make delicious home meals, like his Seven Meat Sancoco, “the dish that Peta calls, ‘a genocide’.” It’s basically a Spanish language version of the previous sketch, but it’s equally enjoyable.

A commercial for Airbnb sees a stressed-out host living a nightmare now that her last guest – a monstrous party animal from Sweden – is forced to live with her indefinitely. It’s a darkly funny showcase for Chloe Fineman, who impressively pulls double duty in both roles.

In Released Early, Chris Redd plays T-Ready, an ex-con cut loose from his 600-year prison sentence (for pirating a Sopranos DVD box set) thanks to “the ‘Rona”. He tries to set up a booty call via FaceTime, but his prospective hookups, including a couple old flames and a jail penpal, all rebuff him for one reason or another. Rapid fire jokes and good chemistry between Redd and co make this one a quick winner.

The night’s musical guest is Miley Cyrus. Sitting in a backyard, awash in the red glow of a nearby fire pit and accompanied by a single acoustic guitarist, she performs an absolutely killer cover of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here.

Weekend Update: Home Edition starts off by laying into Trump’s latest insane ramblings (“You know things are going well when ‘Don’t drink bleach’ is trending nationally after a president’s speech”) and the morons protesting the shutdown (“It’s funny that all the people protesting the stay at home order live in places where there’s nowhere to go anyway”). The segment wisely drops the awkward, seemingly forced offscreen laughter from last time, but the silence that meets each punchline has the effect of making it seem like all the jokes bomb.

Later, Thompson (the MVP of this episode) plays “America’s Dad”, OJ Simpson, who updates everyone via Twitter on how he’s doing during the pandemic. Lacking any self-awareness, The Juice mistakes all the disgust and fear directed his way as paranoia over coronavirus. It’s funny enough, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to matching the absurdity of the real OJ’s Twitter messages.

In FaceTime with Rudd, Paul Rudd video chats with his long-lost cousin, “Pretty” Mandy (Heidi Gardner). A weirdo barfly (last seen playing James Franco’s cousin in a 2017 episode), Mandy quickly manages to cut the A-list star down to size, needling him about not being invited to contribute to that awful celebrity Imagine video and his recent Golden Globe loss to Ramy Youssef. This is followed by an advertisement for Pornhub, which takes the same treacly, socially conscious tone of seemingly every other commercial currently running, as it assures viewers that they’re “Here for you … for however long it takes.” You can see the punchline coming a mile away.

Whiskers R We sees Kate McKinnon play the elderly proprietor of a cat rescue shelter. Desperate to unload her animals since “my small business loan didn’t go through, it went to Shake Shack”, she introduces various kittens, including Dr Anthony Meow-ci (“because of his curious nature and because I’d have sex with him in a heartbeat”), Baxter (“He’s into BDSM: Biting Dem Silly Mice”) and Boots (“because of the markings on her feet and because she’s a dominatrix specializing in spit play and ding dong punishment”).

In the most ambitious segment of the night, Kyle Mooney plays several guests at a party, including an aggressive bro who puts another guy on the spot after he can’t remember his name, which leads into a music video for a gauzy synth-pop song called What’s My Name?

In the night’s final segment, Aidy Bryant reads from her old journals. Her childhood diaries are chock full of endearing kid stuff – badly drawn pictures of beavers, keychain locks, Lists of Cool Stuff (Tamagotchis, TV, “shoping, or shopping, if you will”, Rosie O’Donnell) but from 14-28, they’re “all just about how horny and sad I am”. The final moments, in which she spirals into all-consuming fear and anxiety over the uncertain future, makes for a welcomingly dark endnote to the entire episode.

A marked improvement in terms of creativity and technical prowess, this episode stands as one of the best of the season, even without taking into account the circumstances surrounding it. Bravo all around.

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