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©2016/Will Heath/NBC

©2016/Will Heath/NBC

By Ellen O’Brien, Glenbard West 

This is my personal apology to host John Cena for underestimating him. Of course, he’s a great wrestler, but this week on “Saturday Night Live”, he, once again, proved his acting and comedic talent in each and every sketch, although his characters didn’t display much variety. Regardless, well-played, Cena. Well-played.



I was extremely impressed with this week’s opener, because it narrowed in on the reality of Donald Trump’s incoming presidency, while still taking some creative leeway. Namely, “SNL” enlisted Breaking Bad’s Walter White, played by the original actor Bryan Cranston, to be Trump’s future head of the DEA. Yeah, the high school science teacher who cooked meth. This was a hilarious reflection upon the president-elect’s controversial – and maybe even ironic – cabinet appointments. And of course, I was thrilled to see Cranston reprise his famous role.


Over and over, Cena attempted to sing the song he “prepared” for his monologue, but was interrupted each time by cast members who wanted to fight him…or seduce him, in Leslie Jones’s case. This turned out to be a funny premise, with every person featured getting a WWE-like introduction. Thank goodness they didn’t make him actually sing!


Things get complicated when the contestant of a dating show, Cecily Strong, falls in love with the host, Cena. This sketch had everything, including cheesy pickup lines from the corny guys Strong was supposed to choose from. It also consisted of Nicholas Sparks-esque dialogue between Strong and Cena, as they learned about one another’s troubled pasts. Their drama played off well against the guys’ hopeful attempts to get the contestant’s attention. Spoiler alert: this ended in a lot of kissing. A lot.


This was a well-executed spoof of The Karate Kid, except in an alternate universe where the blond-haired antagonist, Cena, wins epically against the persistent hero, Mikey Day. Cena’s character was successful in repeatedly beating Day’s tactics with a swift punch, that ultimately sent him through not three, not four, but five walls. Oh, and he punched him out of his pants. Needless to say, Cena mastered playing the classic 80’s high school villain.


Boy, is Cena good at acting like an athlete! I wonder why… In this sketch, he depicted an Alabama football player, declaring that he’d sit out of the next bowl game if he didn’t get an A+ on all of his final exams. Thus, he received some preferential treatment on his science project on – get this – bananas. His naiveté was hilariously contradicted by Day and Vanessa Bayer’s desperation for a good grade on the much harder topics they had. But the best part was seeing Cena so dumb, so determined, and so childish.


I’m a sucker for Kate McKinnon’s Dyke and Aidy Bryant’s Fats, two Chicago police officers, who wound up saving Christmas by rescuing Santa from one of the city’s most notorious gangs. It’s a blessing to have them associated with Chicago. As always, they searched for sexism, too, and found a lick of it in their well-meaning captain, played by Cena. And they got mad.


This was a jam-packed “Update” – Trump jokes, McKinnon’s Angela Merkel, Cecily Strong’s Cathy Anne, the bromance between co-anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che, the whole nine yards. My personal favorite dig at Trump was about how during important meetings, the staff should give him headphones and an iPad and make him watch Frozen. There were tons of laughs at McKinnon and Strong’s characters, and although I couldn’t quite keep up with Cathy Anne, she was still funny. There were even more laughs between Jost and Che at some of the jokes that didn’t go so well.


While this fake game show wasn’t the best of the best, I still respected it in theory; it basically was a competition between three fiscally irresponsible athletes (Cena as Rob Gronkowski, Alex Moffat as Conor McGregor, and Bobby Moynihan as John Daly) to see who could be the most fiscally responsible. Hint: it was none of them, even when the show’s host Charles Barkley, played by Kenan Thompson, told the contestants that the answer to every question was “No”.


This was…genius. I’ve always wondered what the world looks like through the president-elect’s eyes, and now, “SNL” has shown me his delusions, from having huge hands to perceiving himself as John Cena. However, it is a bit troubling how biased “SNL” is, but then again, I’m happy that they don’t put on the pretense that they support Trump, or his tiny hands, in any way.



The only laughable thing about this sketch was Cena’s curly hair. Everything else was meh, as a group of coworkers tried to make a decision about saving their colleague, Bryant, or their Christmas tree, after both of them fell out of the window. You dropped the ball there, “SNL”.


Again, the only redeeming quality of this sketch was Cena’s hair, which was, this time, long and blond and, more often than not, blowing in the wind. Meanwhile, it featured an uncomfortable love affair between Cena and Bryant’s characters at the erotic bookstore they worked at, but it was all talk, no…you know what. I changed my mind – the second redeeming quality of this sketch was that there was no you know what.


I was bored. Cena had long hair again. An owl pooped everywhere. Do with that what you will.

“Saturday Night Live”

10:30 p.m., Saturday, NBC

3.5 out of 4 stars

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