As we noted over the weekend, NBC and “Saturday Night Live” may have won in terms of ratings, but they lost any ounce of credibility by providing a platform to Donald Trump.
It’s not just the hundreds of advocates who rallied outside of NBC Studios or the over half a million petition signers who feel that way either. Major television critics agree Trump’s tightly-scripted appearance was a colossal belly flop, with the New York Times commenting the show’s curtain call featuring Trump and a visibly-uncomfortable cast “played like a hostage video.”
The Washington Post, “Trump’s sorry night on SNL: An overhyped bummer for us all”:
Donald Trump’s highly touted and almost certainly inappropriate hosting gig on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” turned out to be an anemic and halfhearted dud. The ratings were high — SNL’s best in years — but they come with a heavy tax on the show’s integrity.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, there might have been a lesson to learn from Saturday’s boring and misspent episode — but that world no longer exists, certainly not where politics and TV intersect. Everything is turned upside down. Bring back the old America, I say, the one where our preeminent vehicle for topical satire would have ably skewered a hateful, nonsensical, vainglorious presidential candidate rather than invite him into the club and give him more of the empty-calorie media attention he seeks.
Having Trump host SNL is a tacit nod of approval — of his message, his antics and, yes, his campaign to be the Republican presidential nominee. Worst of all, it provided Trump with more dubious evidence of his own preeminence.
New York Times, “Review: Donald Trump on ‘Saturday Night Live”:
It would be unfair to blame Mr. Trump alone for the deadness of the Nov. 7 episode. It’s hardly the first time the show has worked with a host who struggled with comedy line readings (some were professional actors). The bigger problem was the anodyne material. Mr. Trump said he hosted the episode to show he could “take a joke,” but “S.N.L.” hardly threw any his way…
…And what did “S.N.L.” and producer Lorne Michaels get? The ratings, but then again, any new viewers tuned in to see a joyless, unfunny show, which ended in a curtain call with Mr. Trump and the cast that played like a hostage video.
In this bargain, Donald Trump won. And just like he’d warned us, it was boring.
Variety, “Donald Trump on ‘Saturday Night Live’: Not Hugely Entertaining”:
The fevered lead-up to Donald Trump’s “Saturday Night Live” episode turned out to be more exciting than the edition of the show he hosted.
Most of the sketches involving Trump were weak, timid or predictable, and we have Drake to thank for one of the few moments that worked.
Bloomberg, “Kind of Dead as Donald Trump Hosts Saturday Night Live”:
Did Trump do himself any good with his appearance? It’s tough to see how. He wasn’t particularly funny—it’s always good to remember that being a showman in the realm of politics and a showman in the realm of entertainment are two far different things—and he didn’t look comfortable either. (Also: His suit was too big on him.) He surely will increase SNL’s ratings, a fact he’ll happily boast about it, but in a way that probably doesn’t benefit him or the show: He looks more like a huckster—the show actually made him look a little small, though again, maybe that was the suit—and the show got a lot more eyeballs to watch one of the worst episodes of the last several seasons. There was no breakout, instantly memorable moment, which ultimately seems to be by design. It was a night that everyone involved with wanted to move past as quickly as possible and hope no one ever discusses it again. It shouldn’t make much of a dent in the news cycle, but the oral history written five years from now, with the cast members talking about that lost, dead look they all had in their eyes the week Trump hosted…now that’ll be a must-read.
Fusion, “Everybody hated Donald Trump’s ‘SNL’ appearance”:
Did you catch Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live”? For your sake, hopefully the answer to that is no.
It is hard to find anyone who has a good word to say about Trump’s “SNL” hosting gig. The protests, the fears about racism, the equal-time controversies—all melted away as viewers gazed in gobsmacked confusion about what was unfolding in front of them. Trump barely spent any time onscreen, and the moments he did participate in featured such satirical gems as “Donald Trump will be an awesome president” and “Donald Trump plays lasers (?)” For good measure, the show continued its stellar historyof getting white people to play Latinos by getting a white guy to play the president of Mexico. The cast members often gave off the air of appearing in a highly priced hostage video, telegraphing “Save me” looks to the audience.
Time, “Donald Trump Played It Safe on Saturday Night Live”:
The show was at odds with itself in a manner that made truly bad TV. The things that have recently brought Trump to a new level of prominence are too charged to make comedy with the man himself in the room and granted veto power. One of Saturday Night Live‘s central tenets (more and more in recent years, as its bloated 40th-anniversary special proved) is that celebrities are always funny, or at least can make anything funnier. But Trump’s presence had a depressing effect on any potential comedy.