Who would have known that Kim Kardashian West would be one of the best hosts in the show’s recent history? So says Travis M. Andrews, who adds: "After last week’s tepid season 47 premiere, which was the lowest-rated episode in the show’s history, SNL was flatlining before it even began in earnest. Part of the issue was the show seemed to have lost its identity. It had unofficially branded itself as something of a resistance movement during Trump’s presidency. Despite — or, perhaps, because of — its weekly conveyor belt of celebrity cameos, led by Alec Baldwin’s exhausting Trump impersonation, it reached a record number of viewers in 2017. Without Trump, the show has felt rudderless, particularly given how carefully it avoids poking fun at the current administration. Leading up to the latest episode, some vocal critics (including Debra Messing) made it clear that they didn’t think Kardashian West had what it takes to turn things around...As it turns out, Kardashian West was the defibrillator the show needed. Key to being a great host, particularly for those not prone to stage performance, is to be game for anything. (See Peyton Manning cursing out kids and pelting them with footballs as an example.) From the second she began her monologue, which was essentially a four-minute self-roast, it was clear she came to play."
SNL turning an episode into a Kim Kardashian infomercial is part of its identity crisis: "In reviewing a Kim Kardashian West-hosted episode of SNL, I’m reminded of the gag in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt where socialite Jacqueline’s decidedly unplugged-from-pop-culture mom realizes to her dismay that she’s absorbed far more information about the Kardashian family than she ever imagined," says Dennis Perkins. "Tonight, there were at least three other Kardashian-Jenners kicking around, with the studio audience dutifully popping in recognition, all hinting, like the monologue, about some hard-nosed backstage negotiating. The Kardashian brand is fame, and Kim represented the label with her customary diligence, dragging along mother and a few sisters into the lucrative limelight. She joked in the monologue that SNL’s measly viewership pales in comparison to the follower count of her heavily branded social media empire, and she’s right. The Kardashians don’t need Saturday Night Live. That Saturday Night Live appeared so willing to turn over a pivotal, early-season episode to a non-performer and her family/product suggests that SNL has no idea what it needs, either."
Kardashian was playing into her brand, and SNL did nothing to challenge it: "You don’t get to the status Kim Kardashian West occupies without knowing exactly what people think about you and using it to your advantage," says Sophie Gilbert. "So when the mogul, former reality star, and Instagram powerhouse walked out onto the Saturday Night Live stage for her hosting debut, her outfit—a skintight turtlenecked bodysuit made of fuchsia crushed velvet that covered her from the tips of her fingers to the points of her stilettos—said more about her than her monologue did. It showed everything, and nothing. The jokes and sketches that followed were all entirely in character for Kardashian West, pointed digs that would have felt sharper if her family hadn’t long since incorporated all of its controversies into its brand."
Kardashian hosting was a disaster -- but not because of her: "In the weeks leading up to her first stint as SNL host on Saturday, Oct. 9, the question was whether Kardashian West would be able to live up to the assignment," says Mick LaSalle. "But the SNL writers apparently didn’t think of it that way. Instead, the tenor of every skit suggested the reverse — the show’s anxiety over whether SNL was good enough for Kim Kardashian West. That bizarre reversal killed a whole night of comedy. On one side, you have a television sketch comedy show that has lasted 46 years and has served as a launching pad for two generations of comedy stars. And on the other side, you have a reality TV star who is famous for being famous. In such a situation, you’d think Kardashian West would be the one feeling the pressure. To her credit, she didn’t, and it must be admitted and appreciated. There is something appealing about self-confidence, even when it’s grounded in nothing, because, in the end, it’s always grounded in something. It might be self-knowledge, or a sense of proportion, or philosophy. In any case, whatever the source of her composure, Kardashian West stepped onto the SNL stage in a pink body suit looking like she owned the place."
The hype surrounding Kim Kardashian as host ended up being more interesting and exciting than the actual episode, which felt like many others: "The choice might seem odd, but it’s not all that unpredictable when you think about the history of the show (this isn’t the first time it’s been hosted by someone with seemingly no qualifications) and Kardashian West’s outsize role in the American public’s imagination," says Lovia Gyarkye of Kardashian hosting. "She’s not a traditional entertainer, but she wields an enormous amount of influence — and she knows it." Gyarkye adds: "The hype surrounding Kardashian West ended up being more interesting and exciting than the actual episode, which felt like many others. This would be the time to ponder whether her performance here could spell another career shift, but I don’t know how much that is worth considering. If this episode made anything clear, it’s that Kardashian West will continue to experiment and, occasionally, surprise us in ways that will keep trapping us into caring."