One of the knocks against Saturday Night Live’s political coverage in the Trump era is that it rarely captures the levels of intricate, grotesque decadence that ooze from a single photograph of our store-brand Caligula, never mind his whole administration. It’s not the kind of problem you actually want the show to solve, first because it’s hard to imagine it’d make for good television, and second because it’s one of those “the abyss gazes also” situations that would undoubtedly bring madness and dissolution to the entire cast and crew of NBC’s long-running sketch comedy show. But although this week’s cold open wasn’t quite as much of a Lovecraftian nightmare as, say, an hour and a half of the President’s dinner conversation, credit where due: “Alan Dershowitz visits Jeffrey Epstein in hell” is a lot closer to the spirit of the age than “What if NATO were a high school cafeteria?” So here’s Saturday Night Live, belatedly entering its baroque phase:
SNL is always on the lookout for sketch structures that allow the cast to do a parade of celebrity impressions, from screen tests to celebrity game shows, and although this particular incarnation leans more on unknown-but-universally-loathed types like “whoever wrote that ‘Baby Shark’ song” than household names, the bones are undeniably there. So if we’re very lucky, this week’s cold open will be the first in a long series of Saturday Night Live sketches premised on the idea that all of the leading cultural and political figures of the day are fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and liars, who shall all have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Also, how great was it to see Jon Lovitz again?