SNL delivers too much Miley for one sitting

Miley Cyrus's Miley-themed hosting turn was the best argument yet for watching the show on Hulu, in small doses

By Neil Drumming

Published October 7, 2013 4:10PM (EDT)


Total DVR fail. This weekend, I set my box to tape SNL and then stepped out to do something far more age-appropriate than sprawling on the couch half-watching Miley Cyrus poke fun at herself. I mean, she's hot, but I'm not into her music. (If you were hoping for a more politicized take on the young pop star's recent exploits, I apologize. That sentence pretty much sums up the entirety of my feelings about her. Given the existing material, I think it's a reasonable enough position to take.)

Anyway, Sunday afternoon I sat down to finally watch and write about the show only to discover that -- due to some sporting event or another -- NBC's broadcast of this latest edition of SNL had been pushed back twenty-seven minutes. My recording cut off right at the end of Weekend Update, lopping off the whole last third of the show, the segment where SNL generally deploys its least accessible sketches -- arguably my favorite part.

After panicking a bit and scrubbing through what felt like every possible Google and Youtube result yielded by a search for "Miley Cyrus Saturday Night Live 2013," I came across a fascinating and useful piece of information: Not only is the entire episode available on Hulu, each individual sketch -- as well as Cyrus' two musical performances -- is available for viewing as a separate chunk.

Here is one superficial reason why that's awesome:

Last night's Miley Cyrus episode of "Saturday Night Live" contained way too much Miley Cyrus for one sitting. I'm happy to see the singer push herself and attempt to appear in almost every skit. But Justin Timberlake set the bar pretty high. Where were the characters? (That Scarlett Johansson gag was a cheat and a dud.) From the monologue to the now-viral "We Did Stop" parody, way too many bits were actually about Miley Cyrus. Listen, we all knew Vanessa Bayer's always-charming Miley impression would make an appearance, and it's good they got it out of the way early. But why follow it up with a slew of self-referential but not at all unexpected material? (Even the Girlfriends Talk Show skit felt like I was watching Cyrus test out a look for her next music video.) By the time the show got around to the "Miley Cyrus Sex Tape" bit featuring new SNL cast member Kyle Mooney -- my favorite bit, by the way -- foam finger fatigue had set in heavy.



The next time an event like this rolls around -- let's say Drake or someone from "The Vampire Diaries" guest hosts -- it's nice to know that the program will already be neatly dissected into pieces for easy digestion or disposal completely at my leisure. I wonder, though, what it all means for SNL. The word "live" in the long-running variety show's title seems to get less and less significant every year. Pre-taped bits certainly seem to get the most circulation come Monday mornings, jostling with wannabe viral contributions from everyone from Kimmel to Fallon. I feel like the only benefit of watching the show in real time comes when some musical guest really eats it or one of the cast accidentally drops an F-bomb and gets NBC in trouble with the FCC for a few days.

On this weekend's edition, a particularly ill-conceived sketch about cheerleaders being kidnapped by aliens went literally haywire with technical difficulties. A production person in all black was actually caught on camera running around behind the actors. Not surprisingly, this happened toward the end of the show, i.e. the dark side of the news. In the future, you may want to rearrange the skits according to your taste. Maybe you can actually make the episode get better over an hour and a half.

Neil Drumming

Neil Drumming is a staff writer for Salon. Follow him on Twitter @Neil_Salon.

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