Cameron Diaz and Jerry Seinfeld Coach Adam Levine on 'SNL' - Rolling Stone
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Cameron Diaz and Jerry Seinfeld Coach Adam Levine on ‘SNL’

The Sopranos go back to high school and Joe Biden parties at the Dover Motor Speedway

Last night’s Saturday Night Live, hosted by Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine with musical guest Kendrick Lamar, reminded me of high school. Not because of Levine’s acting, which was worse than the time I tried to explain to my math teacher that I had “a make-up drum lesson” for the third week in a row. Nor because Levine’s comedic timing went totally missing (again, “make-up drum lesson”). And not because I was simply over it about half way through, but rather because so many of this week’s sketches represented high school archetypes.

The Popular Beauty: Adam Levine took to the stage for his monologue, dapper in a suit, yet perfectly unshaven. But perhaps in his week with the SNL writers, at some point he realized that he badly needed to hide his insecurities. So former SNL star Andy Samberg, movie star Cameron Diaz and television legend Jerry Seinfeld all joined in for the opening, playing “comedy judges” in a nod to Levine’s role on The Voice. Each star helped shoulder the comedy load, and let Levine focus on where his true talents apparently lie: in taking his shirt off.

The High School Grad Who Comes Back to Party: Remember when Andy Samberg left SNL in a blaze of glory, tying up his Digital Short legacy with a bow by not only creating a blowout 100th Digital Short (featuring Usher, Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Will Ferrell, Natalie Portman, and Michael Bolton), but closing the circle nicely with Lazy Sunday 2? That was last season. Well guess who came back from college to drink at the golf course with this year’s upper classmen? Andy and his Lonely Island cohorts teamed up with Adam Levine and Kendrick Lamar to relive the good old days . . . by doing a Digital Short where they rap about YOLO, an acronym that is beyond ancient in internet time. Better names for the video would have been SMH or zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

The Quiet Nerd Who Will Flourish Down the Line: “The Sopranos Diaries” was an amazing pre-produced video, which re-imagined the main characters of the legendary HBO show, in a 1980s John Hughes-ian world, on the CW network. The attention to detail was what really carried this bit, from the double popped collars of young Tony Soprano (Bobby Moynihan), to Tony’s bestowing the name Big Pussy to a new friend Sal, to a teenage (and also adult) argument with Carmela (Kate McKinnon), to the grey sides of Paulie’s Flock of Seagulls hair. It might not be the most popular sketch of the night, but in years to come, people will look back and give it its proper due.

The Dumb Jock: A bar fight between upbeat bands Maroon 5 and Train?! And throw in Bill Hader as John Mayer and Jason Sudekis as Jason Mraz?! And a Hootie (without the Blowfish) joke?! This one had potential to do great things, but fell into typical amateur traps, and after transferring schools a couple times, came back to town in the end to work as a parking lot attendant.

The Girl Next Door: This sketch was almost too good to be true, the one you initially dismiss, but see that it was definitely worth your time once you give it a shot. SNL’s take on the MTV show Catfish: The TV Series hit on every major theme you want it to: the unbearable focus on cornball host Nev (Adam Levine), his pointless videographer Max (Taran Killam), the sad nature of online “relationships” between people like hopeful redneck Jas (the wonderful Aidy Bryant) and her beau, Ace Applebees, whose family supposedly owns every Applebees restaurant, and who has the face of Brian Williams. Ace is played by – SPOILER ALERT – not Brian Williams, but Jay Pharoah.

The Class Vice President: Who still cares about the Senior Class President? No one . . . until they invite you to your ten-year reunion via Facebook. The person to remember was the fun-loving Vice President, who may have lacked in fully-formed ideas, but made up for it with laughs and energy. And that’s what last night’s Ten-to-One sketch provided in “Biden Bash,” the official Vice-Presidential celebration at the Dover Motor Speedway, featuring a dog show, bouncy castle and Joe Biden’s kung-fu exhibition. Tremendous, and if there’s a god in heaven, an actual event.

Ah, high school. A sweet time, a simpler time, a time when Adam Levine was solely a singer, not an actor.

Last Week’s Recap: ‘SNL’ Takes On Lance Armstrong and Manti Te’o as Jennifer Lawrence Hosts


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