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Thank You, Aubrey Plaza, For the Most Delightfully Unhinged Episode of SNL in Recent Memory

Saturday Night Live has had something of an identity crisis this past season. We’ve got some new writers on the team who, paired with the plethora of new players, have had some trouble finding their footing and coming up with a unique style that they can collectively bring to the show. With that being said, I wasn’t really holding out for this most recent episode—the first of 2023—to be anything worth talking about.

Good lord, how I was wrong. Wow. Turns out all you need is a cavalier woman in her thirties to make things work. And goddamn, she worked.

In what might be the most unhinged episode in recent memory, Aubrey Plaza led the charge and allowed the cast and writers to go totally off the rails in the best way possible. I really need to stress that we have Plaza’s sense of humor to thank for this episode’s quality because she had NO intention of pandering to the audience. She knows she’s funny, she knows that even if they don’t get every single one of her jokes, she’ll still give them a good time. That kind of confidence and authenticity allowed for the entire show to follow suit and let it all hang loose.

For instance, my babygirl Bowen Yang’s recurring George Santos impression:

As well as the FRAAAAANCE:

But of course, who could forget this beautiful Parks and Rec reunion:

Just an absolute stunner of an episode, full of talent from the whole cast (we finally got some more time from Molly and Devon!) as well as a plethora of delightful cameos (Tony Hawke, omg???). Even the musical act helped elevate the evening, which I say as someone who isn’t even a Sam Smith fan. The absurdity of the whole spectacle—Kim Petras coming out of their dress, a gospel choir singing over Sharon Stone (yes, THE Sharon Stone), Smith’s massive fuzzy pink dress–only added to the tone of the night.

Honestly, I’m almost ashamed of myself that I underestimated Plaza’s panache. I’m so used to hosts generally doing whatever the writers tell them at the expense of a genuine performance. Go watch Emily the Criminal, everyone.

(Featured Image: SNL, NBC)

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Madeline (she/her) is a writer and dog mom. She aims to use her writing to positively represent mixed-race people like herself, and is currently working on a novel. However, when she isn't writing, she's either battling insomnia or taking too many naps. You can read her stuff at