"After a monthlong break, the show struggled to find its footing and seemed woefully outpaced by a world that’s changed drastically since the venerable sketch comedy, now in its 46th season, was last on the air in December," says Lorraine Ali. "Despite all the grist — an astounding U.S. Capitol insurrection, Kim and Kanye’s split, Bernie Sanders’ inauguration mittens meme, QAnon idiots in fur, vaccine roll-out blunders, GameStop goofballs gaming Wall Street — host John Krasinski and the cast were given little to nothing to work with by SNL’s writers. There was a Ratatouille spoof, in which the precocious rodent of the film was reimagined as a rat that controlled Krasinski’s moves in the bedroom. There was an unfunny take on Supermarket Sweep, a weak 'Weekend Update' with jokes about transgender 'tucking' in the military, and other lazy, crude gags scattered about in sketches I’ve already forgotten. If Trump has had one victory in the last month, it may be that SNL suddenly seems lost without him. The big orange beacon of ridicule has left the building, and where’s the joy in poking fun at Biden (played most recently by Alex Moffat, who replaced Jim Carrey) or Vice President Kamala Harris (Maya Rudolph) when all there is to work with so far is an aggressively normal inauguration and civil daily news briefings. The new team in Washington will surely be parodied as it embarks on one of the most challenging terms in modern memory, but it’ll never spin the drama like its predecessor. SNL will have to widen its scope again, because wringing humor out of the White House is never going to be as easy as it has been the last four years. The nation’s health depends on a boring POTUS."
SNL greeted the historical events of the past six weeks with a big shrug: Was this a preview of the Biden era?: Saturday Night Live returned "after a six-week hiatus, ready to tackle a turbulent period that included the insurrection at the Capitol, the inauguration of Joe Biden, and the second impeachment of Donald Trump—the kind of chaotic political fodder that’s been a mainstay of the show for the past four years," says David Sims. "I tuned in with a tinge of dread, expecting perhaps a dramatic send-off for Alec Baldwin’s tenure as Trump, or some other cavalcade of impressions and celebrity drop-ins to preview the show’s approach to the Biden administration. Instead, I was greeted with a big shrug—a sleepy acknowledgment that current events might remain tumultuous, but SNL just doesn’t have the energy for that right now...It’s more than understandable that the cast and crew of SNL, like so many of us, might feel weary about analyzing the news right now. Beyond that, the complications of the pandemic and the way the show is currently produced probably make it more difficult for A-list stars to pop by for a goofy cameo. But this week’s episode, which had some limp political humor, a few decent laughs in its big sketches, and a solid but unspectacular performance from its host, John Krasinski, might have served as a larger preview of SNL’s approach to the Biden era after years of capitalizing on topical virality."
John Krasinski shined as a first-time host: "The recipe for a great SNL host is elusive," says Dennis Perkins. "Can’t-misses miss, and seeming stiffs can be pleasantly surprising, the show’s eccentric and multifarious demands separating merely those who are good at hosting Saturday Night Live for hard-to-define reasons, and those who aren’t. (That’s not a helpful description, but its really that singular a gig.) Krasinski’s a great SNL host, for the following reasons applicable only to this case. He’s comfortable on camera, and in front of a live audience. He’s willing and able to hop into different characters, and there’s always the sense that he’s invested in both the performance and in landing the sketch as a whole. I can picture him in the writers’ offices pitching in as to how he can better bring a piece to life. He adapted his talents to the needs of the comic logic of each sketch and never seemed to be just bulling his way through something for the sake of it. Yes, even when doing a love scene with a rat and a cockroach puppet on his head."