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10 Best ‘SNL’ Sketches of Season 43, From Natalie Rap 2.0 to ‘Black Panther’

From a priceless Will Ferrell/Kate McKinnon team-up to a Migos-like rap group in therapy – the best of ‘Saturday Night Live’s past season

10 Best 'SNL' Sketches of Season 43

The 10 Best 'SNL' Sketches of Season 43 – from Natalie Rap 2.0 to a 'Black Panther' game show, a perfect Ferrell/McKinnon team-up to Migos in therapy.

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No one expected Saturday Night Live to deliver another 2016-2017 season – a standout run in which the show suddenly surfed the pop-political zeitgeist in a way that it hadn’t done for decades. Yes, you still got Alec Baldwin’s Trump pursing his lips and perversely reflecting back the administration’s boiling-frog slow erosion of American democracy, but it felt a little less urgent this time around … even as our IRL state-of-emergency increased with every breaking-news alert. 

Season 43 didn’t give us the scalpel-sharp satire we needed regarding our POTUS – but it did give us a Jost/Che “Weekend Update” that’s finally hitting its stride rapport-wise, some on-point #MeToo commentary and a handful of incredible digital shorts. (The show is beginning to rely on filmed bits the way it relies on movie-star drop-ins, which definitely hit peak quantity this year.) That, and a lot of tried-and-true surefire set-ups: Even the appearance of cast-members moms on the Mother’s Day episode meta-asked why the show relies on “talk shows and game shows” so much for sketch fodder.

Still, there were a ton of high points from the 2017-2018 SNL year; we could have filled most of this list with bits from the Will Ferrell episode alone. And once again, Kate McKinnon proves she is God. Here are our picks for the 10 Best Sketches from Season 43. (We’re leaving out monologues and “Weekend Update” character stuff, though a shout out to McKinnon’s sassy AF version of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Cecily Strong’s Claire from H.R. and Heidi Gardner’s moody teen critic Bailey Gismert.) 

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‘Welcome to Hell’

It starts with “all these big, cool, powerful guys are turning out to be … what’s the word? Habitual predators?” And from there, this bright, shiny, K-Pop–style video about how sexual harassment has always been a part of a woman’s daily existence – that just because people are paying attention now that things are “button-under-the-desk bad” doesn’t mean this is new – just starts slaying across the board. From the “it’s like a maze here, all full of boners” line to the montage of Melissa Villaseñor as incredulous feminist icons, it’s tough to pick a highlight here. Personally, we’d nominate the list of stuff that’s long been hazardous for women: “parking, and walking, and Uber, and ponytails, bathrobes and nighttime, and drinking, and hotels, and vans.” SNL took on what felt like daily revelations of famous men behaving badly a number of ways, but this ditty hit the most bullseyes. It’s simultaneously a bubbly #TheReckoning cri de couer and an angry eyeroll.

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‘Dinner Discussion’

How do we love this sketch about the minefield of modern dinner conversation in the #MeToo era? Let us count the ways: the use of camera movement and lighting for dramatic effect is spot on; the escalating absurdity of reactions as everyone gingerly tries to avoid saying the wrong thing, peaking in Kate McKinnon pulling a mini-theater curtain (complete with proscenium!) over her face; the way that Aidy Bryant says “Care-fulllll” like an old-timey 1930s character actor and Heidi Gardner says “Watch it” like she’s had emergency jaw surgery; that Pizza Rat insert in the everything-falls-apart montage after Keenan Thompson brings up race. 

Pound for pound, this was one of the single funniest bits of the past season, one that would have worked even if Will Ferrell didn’t bring his death-defying deadpan to the table. But he does – boy, does he! – which seems to force the rest of his scene partners to up their game as well. It felt like an old-fashioned SNL highlight in the best possible way: a great ensemble piece, a well-written bit of commentary, a sketch that understood exactly how to use its guest host and all of its various players’ strengths to a tee. We’ve watched this one a dozen times since it first aired. It’s one of the few Season 43 sketches that, years from now, we could imagine watching a dozen times more.

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