"The novelty of living amid the crisis has worn off, and the tedium of coping with the lockdown has given way to the uncomfortable reality that life will remain abnormal for the foreseeable future," says Shirley Li of the third SNL At Home episode, which served as the finale for Season 45. "If the first episode offered 'surreal comforts” and the second attempted to make a standard collection of SNL sketches, the third looked to the future—and realized the unnerving truth that the end isn’t near. The standout moments of the evening all focused on that feeling, that this—this pandemic-induced pressure, this burden, this fear—won’t be over soon," says Li, adding: "This is a Saturday Night Live that couldn’t care less about offering reassurance—a far cry from the first at-home edition, which had a can-do, show-must-go-on attitude spearheaded by its everyman host, Tom Hanks. For the most part, the finale, hosted by the SNL alum Kristen Wiig, was darker and weirder: As she signed off and bid viewers good night, Wiig put on her 'sleep wig' and curled up in bed—only to toss and turn like many struggling to cope with the seemingly never-ending threat of the coronavirus, while the credits rolled over her flailing body. Yes, the show must go on—it will go on, as Wiig promised to 'see ya in September.' But, SNL made clear, it’s going to take time to get there. For now, it’s okay to notice the stress, to let it in, and to try to laugh about how much there is. That’s not the most comforting piece of advice, but it’s a necessary one to take in."
SNL At Home hasn't really been Saturday Night Live -- it's cost-effective comedy that is easily controlled: "I don’t know how much an episode of SNL At Home (as the show has rebranded itself the last three installments) costs to produce, but it’s a whole lot less than usual," says Dennis Perkins. "The ring lights reflecting in eyes, glasses, and background shiny things all testify to how this all-video, all-prerecorded SNL is allowed to coast on elements the infamously meticulous (Lorne) Michaels has long banished from his show. Sketches about Zoom calls are pieced together from grainy, sometimes blurry Zoom calls, the cast’s unadorned living rooms permitted to stand in for expensively mounted sets, and the luxury of retakes and post-production editing smoothing out the inevitable choppiness of the live version. High-profile A-lister guests teleconference in rather than spending the week in New York on NBC’s dime, their reluctance to submit themselves to the show’s grueling and risky weeklong trial by fire overcome by an experience consisting of a series of emailed jokes and maybe a scruffy wig."