Saturday Night Live is -- by its very nature -- a hit or miss enterprise. Even the best episodes can feature a few sketches that are duds. It's what happens when you're working on such a tight time frame. The axiom from Lorne Michaels -- as repeated by Tina Fey in her book Bossypants -- is that "The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30."
But even though you might have to dig around a little bit, each season has some genuine gems. (And any time John Mulaney hosts the gem quotient goes way up.) As 2019 gets underway, the show is continues on with its 44th season. Over the course of the year we'll be compiling the sketches you need to see.
2019 Oscar Picks for the 91st Academy Awards
7. "Extreme Baking Championship"
Episode date: February 16
We've seen all sorts of baking competitions just on regular old TV, but this sketch has a new idea: What if a supposedly edible creation was so bad it just came alive and begged for death?
6. "Weekend Update: Melissa Villaseñor's Grammy Awards Picks"
Is this just an excuse for Melissa Villaseñor to do her Gaga impression? Yes! Is it a good Gaga impression? Also yes.
5. "Can I Play That?"
Episode date: March 9
The game show format is a crutch for SNL, but sometimes the writers pack a lot into that format. "Can I Play That?" manages to target Twitter outrage, Hollywood bias, actors' self importance, and Rami Malek all by quizzing contestants on which roles they can and cannot play.
4. "Leave Me Alurn"
Episode date: January 19
Every so often SNL churns out a fake ad that's all too relatable. See: "Leave Me Alurn," which hawks a portable urn for women to use when they are traveling. Its purpose? To keep men with a lack of respect for personal space away. Next time a dude bothers you, just making like you're spreading some ashes.
3. "Bodega Bathroom"
Episode date: March 2
The spiritual sequel to last year's "Diner Lobster" turns another New York taboo into a musical theater homage. A rule of living in the city: Never use a bathroom in a bodega, you'll encounter all sort of horrors including a pair of singing cockroaches. Not as thematically consistent as its predecessor which took all of its cues from Les Misérables, "Bodega Bathroom" mixes Willy Wonka vibes with songs from Rent and Cats.
Episode date: January 26
Frankly, I'd listen to James McAvoy's thick Glaswegian brogue for hours on end -- even though I wouldn't understand a single word he says. The host -- on hand to promote Glass -- plays an air traffic controller who isn't very helpful thanks to his impenetrable dialect. The concept is basic, but he pulls it off.
Episode date: March 2
By now it's clear that John Mulaney hosting is the sign of a good episode, and he brought along one of his most reliable collaborators for this brilliant spin on the game show format. Bill Hader's deranged host adds a level of danger to this guessing game that gets difficult when contestants are asked to identify acquaintances like a boss' wife and a close friend's girlfriend.
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