SNL Digest: Dakota Johnson/Alabama Shakes (2/28/15)

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Dakota Johnson" Episode 1676 -- Pictured: (l-r) Back Row: Brittany Howard, Heath Fogg, Steve Johnson and Zac Cockrell of musical guest Alabama Shakes; Front Row: Dakota Johnson and Keenan Thompson on February 26, 2015 -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC)
(Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC)

SNL felt oddly off-brand this week, and that’s not Alabama Shakes’ fault.

After a pretty fantastic 40th anniversary special, this week’s SNL felt…off, for reasons I can’t quite explain. All the structure and cadences of jokes were there, but no laughs seemed to be being had by me OR the studio audience. Dakota Johnson is the star of Fifty Shades of Gray, but she seems to be about as wooden as the character in the book she played in the movie. The cast seemed to do the best they could to write around this, but there’s only so much you can do there. On the plus side, there seemed to be a lot of riskier choices made for live TV that makes at least some of this episode worth re-watching.

What You Missed

Monologue: Giuliani

“You warned us that what you were about to say was horrible, so it’s fine!”.  I thought this felt a little generic for an opener, but then it went all Birdman on us and I was back on board.  From a technical level, this was great, but the audience didn’t seem to get it and I’m not sure it really hit its mark or said anything. Which probably makes it a great parody of Birdman.


“50 Shades of Gray is the novel that made you never want to touch your mother’s Kindle again”

Hey!  It’s Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson!  Aside from this, Dakota Johnson’s got a really flat delivery that feels hard to tell if she’s joking or not.


Kathy-Ann returns!  I liked this character the first time, even if no one else seemed to.  Dakota did a great job as the princess.

I’m trying to find things to like this episode you guys, and Dakota is NOT making it easy.

“Five more bongs like that and she’s going to look like hell in a hamburger”

Say What You Wanna Say

Okay, this ad about being open and saying what you mean was fantastic.  Excellent use of Sara Bareilles’ “Brave”. The SNL ladies this year are KILLING it.

Fifty Shades of Gray Pressroom

I was ON BOARD from 5th grade interviewer, especially once it goes dark.  Kyle Mooney does a great job with this character – and I wouldn’t mind seeing it return.

I Can’t

The reveal with Margot on this elevated this from just a character piece on millennials to something great.

Weekend Update

  • Michael Che had a great bit about ISIS.
  • Kate McKinnon as Ruth Bader Ginsberg made my night.
  • Jay as Kanye was also great.
  • I still don’t like Riblet, you guys.  That said, I do like his constant surprise at the Star Wars characters being actors.

ER Doctor

Dakota was totally wooden in this scene, which is a shame, since Keenan did some great work as a doctor dressed as Worf from Star Trek: the Next Generation

Net Effect

This was super bland (and almost hit the skip it column), but Bobby’s outburst saved the sketch.

Dakota’s “Harder!” was totally unnecessary pandering.

MrRiotFilms Social Experiment

I love Good Neighbor’s aesthetic, you guys.  And the small details of this video were fantastic.

What You Didn’t Miss

  • The ISIS ad was pitch-perfect, but didn’t really do anything for me, comedy-wise.

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About Ben Smith 252 Articles
Ben has been writing about TV, music, and pop culture in some form or another since 2009, including stints at Mental Floss and Temporary Obsession. When not solving puzzles of some sort or consuming pop culture at a frightening pace, he can be found collecting shiny pieces of the internet at E-mail: