It was bound to be a highlight of the season: Jimmy Fallon returned Saturday to SNL, with Justin Timberlake as a musical guest. The cameo-filled episode also included a number of sketches that the duo were famous for, enough so that it could be forgiven for someone not paying attention to think they were hosting together.
Yet it was a skit that relied almost completely on a different portion of the SNL team – the six current women cast members – that for me was the true highlight of Saturday evening’s show. A clever thought – bringing a boyfriend/husband to the old family home for the holidays when the childhood bedroom is largely unchanged – turns into a wicked Pussycat Dolls-like song (it sounds just a bit like “Buttons” in structure and form) featuring the women singing about getting it on in their old bed.
The song has all sorts of amazing callouts, from an X-Files VHS collection, trophies won at school, all the way down to a seventh-grade picture hanging on the wall, which leads to all of the women (as well as Fallon, who appears briefly) dancing in front of their grade school pictures that was as cute as it was hilarious.
For the last 20 years in particular, the women cast on SNL have pulled focus regularly, pushing the envelope in ways the guys generally can’t (most inevitably seem to fall back into frat-style humor, a pattern that goes back to the days of Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, etc.).
The latest crop of women, in my opinion led by the amazing Kate McKinnon but with a talented roster that includes Aidy Bryant, Vanessa Bayer, Nesim Pedrad and Cecily Strong, seem queued up to carry the torch previously carried by Cheri Oteri, Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Kristin Wiig, among others. The continuing strength of the women cast has been borne out by the number of fantastic shows they’ve led after SNL (such as “30 Rock” and “Parks and Recreation”) and led to them coming together for Betty White’s episode awhile back.
“Twin Bed” puts the spotlight back on them, and once again they deliver. This year, a transition year after the departure of a number of popular cast members last summer, seems to be heading in another solid direction. For a show that’s almost 40 years old, things don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.