Thanksgiving isn't the only holiday that brings politics to the dinner table. This week, Saturday Night Live's cold open took a peek inside three very different households at Christmastime as they discussed the state of affairs: a progressive home in California, a staunchly conservative family in South Carolina, and a Georgia-based brood that had purposefully checked out of most of Washington's squabbles but still had some grim thoughts about how 2020's election will shake out. The discussions were each lively little stretches of discourse, but, as the storyteller snowman (Aidy Bryant) reminded us, they didn't matter one bit because the next presidential election will really be decided by the key swing states. "It all comes down to 1,000 people in Wisconsin who won't even think about the election until the morning of," faux Frosty proclaimed. "And that's the magic of the electoral college!"
Fruitless as they might be, though, the mini-debates were still worth watching. The San Francisco group, for example, lauded the House of Representatives' decision to move forward with impeaching Donald Trump, with one member proclaiming, "He violated the Constitution, and there has to be consequences!" And the Charlestonians dug their heels in to support Trump, claiming that the only "crime" actually committed by POTUS was "being an alpha male who actually gets things done." Meanwhile, the folks in Atlanta spent more effort dissecting the The Masked Singer than D.C. because, when prompted to talk politics, the patriarch said, "Oh, you mean how Trump is definitely getting impeached, and then Trump is definitely getting reelected? I'm good."
The cold open might've been complete enough with that, but then the segment took a delightfully strange turn in the end when Kate McKinnon popped in as climate crisis activist Greta Thunberg to deliver a dire warning that if things don't change, that very snowman might not be around next year. She also seized the opportunity to send a message to Trump, who'd criticized the real Thunberg's selection as Time's Person of the Year on Twitter. "Merry maybe our last Christmas to all," she warned, before adding, "Donald Trump, step to me, and I'll come at you like a plastic straw comes at a turtle. I can't believe I'm saying this to a 70-year-old man, but grow up."
After the cold open, six-time host Scarlett Johansson came along to deliver her holiday monologue about being in the spirit of the season and such, but things went off the rails when people started disintegrating like the victims of Thanos from Avengers: Infinity War. Considering that gag was so 2018, Beck Bennett was pretty on point when he lept in to note, "This monologue ... doesn't seem super topical, right? Is this like a backup from the last time you hosted or something?" Nevertheless, Johansson's joke kept right on rolling until they discovered that it was actually SNL's "resident young person" Pete Davidson who'd gotten his hand on the gauntlet and snapped his cast mates over to NBC's new streaming service, Peacock.
Luckily, Davidson was feeling holly jolly enough to bring them all back for the holidays, and Johansson finished her monologue on a more serious note. "I just want to say that this place means so much to me. I have so many friends here, and I met the love of my life here," she said before planting a smooch on her fiancé and "Weekend Update" star Colin Jost. D'aw.
Johansson went on to help recreate a memorable scene from Marriage Story, her performance in which has already featured prominently in awards season — only this time, she was the therapist, and it was George (Bennett) and Kellyanne Conway (McKinnon) who were attempting to find nice things to say about one another during their therapy session despite their different public positions on Trump.
"She works so hard for her boss, even though I hate his guts," he offered. "I loved when my boss called him a 'stone cold loser and the husband from hell.' Sorry, that's not something George did, but I love it," she added. The two went on to churn out a few subtweets before finding common ground, but they were both all too disappointed to learn that their feud would not be publicized by their therapist. Instead of continuing with those confidential sessions, then, the Conways decided to take their tiffs to The View because all's fair in love and war and publicity.
Another imaginative romantic riff came by way of "Hallmark Dating Show," a segment which featured Johansson as a woman who claimed to be far too busy with that obligatory Santa exposé to fall in love but still had her pick of the prototypical holiday hunks that pop up in the network's film slate. The eligible bachelors included a small-town Christmas tree farmer who needed to raise money to save his crops by Christmas, a strapping prince who needed to get hitched to execute a peace treaty, and a Santa on the sly, of course.
"Prince Simon, I live in stock footage of New York City that still has the Twin Towers in it, but Caucasia sounds incredible. What's it like?" she asked of her potential prince. "Well, there's snowy mountains, and we all have British accents, so vague Europe?" From there, the tropes continued to get trounced — the prince's BFF remained nameless, for example, and no one could correctly identify a menorah — until the host wrapped things up with, "That's right, the true meaning of Christmas is husband." Even if you love Hallmark's holiday fare, this skit is all too true.
Other highlights of Johansson's episode include a swinging rendition of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," an awkward post-holiday party apology session, and a trash-talking Baby Yoda on "Weekend Update."
Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11:30/10:30c on NBC.
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