January Jones' Saturday Night Live performance was so abysmal that it's prompted the onset of the yearly "How To Fix SNL" articles. Here's EW's particularly poorly-executed version.
My argument would be that there's always at least one host each year who so completely fouls things up that you can't imagine why anyone would keep watching. Last year's season premiere was Michael Phelps; he was a disaster, there was a lot of hoopla, and then SNL settled down into what turned out to be one of it's strongest seasons since the show's inception.
Of EW's suggestions, a few are actually well-taken, particularly their note of how the show's become too reliant on Kristen Wiig. Wiig's become the show's latest breakout star, which is a big deal when you consider what a boy's club SNL has historically been. I've been reading Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller's SNL history, Live From New York, and in its 35 year history, SNL hasn't had a female of this talent and popularity since... Gilda Radner, probably. Last year, Wiig was in 124 sketches - no one else even broke 100 - and yet while it was clear who the star of the show was, it never felt like overkill (part of that might have been early-season emphasis on Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, both gone this season). This year, it seems like it's been a mess of kah-RAZY Wiig characters - especially on nights when the host is weaker and they need to rely on someone else. Since January Jones couldn't even manage to read her lines off the cue cards*, the show devolved into a one-woman show, with Wiig flailing wildly to hold things together. The Wiig backlash has started, and it won't be long before people are talking about how sick they are of seeing her do "the same thing over and over." This is unfair: Wiig is fantastic, and on a bad night, she simply can't out-energy the deficiencies of the show. Let's be honest - none of the writing this week was any good either.
That said, it was one bad show, and just one week after Taylor Swift's triumph that everyone's already forgotten about. I'm betting donuts to dollars that Joseph Gordon-Levitt kills tomorrow night, and by Monday, all the bad press goes away. If you don't believe me, remember I'm the guy who correctly predicted two weeks ago that January Jones would be an unmitigated disaster.
Though maybe I'm the kind of guy who can only sense failure. It would certainly seem appropriate.
Anyway, here's Jones' only good sketch from last week, gently spoofing 60's house manners in a manner less effective but at least considerably shorter than any Mad Men episode.
* You know it's a bad night when everyone starts their critique with the statement "January Jones looked beautiful last night, but -"