Taraji P. Henson was the host of Saturday Night Live. As the ‘Empire’ star made her debut on the famed Studio 8H stage did she deliver? See a roundup of what the TV critics are saying in their reviews and check out video highlights of the episode below!
Taraji P. Henson was a rarity as a black woman hosting the iconic show, which has had its controversy in the past couple of years, over its lack of cast member diversity. It was only after much public shaming that SNL brought on as a cast member. So, it was not a surprise that Henson in her monologue delivered a zinger, “It proves that after 20 years in show business, white people know who I am.” This then leads to a rousing rendition of “I Made It” complete with a full gospel choir to back her.
Indeed. It’s just been in the past few months that she’s gone from famous to uberfamous for her portrayal of Cookie on the first season of Fox’s hit musical drama series, ‘Empire.’
Last time we had a black woman hosting, it was Kerry Washington in the midst of the aforementioned controversy which saw her in a skit hilariously portraying multiple public figures from First Lady Michelle Obama to Oprah Winfrey, thus underscoring the point. Henson similarly takes on a few household names from Nicki Minaj to Wanda Sykes.
As for the cold open, it was a case of welcome to the Presidential Race 2016, as in real life the Hillary Clinton watch is on, and in the SNL universe, cast member Kate McKinnon portrayed the former Secretary of State and expected Presidential candidate. While that was expected, the return of former cast member Darrell Hammond reprising his role as former President Bill Clinton was indeed a studio-audience-pleasing surprise, and pitching his candidacy for “First Dude” as McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton quips, “Aren’t we such a fun, approachable dynasty?”
So what did the critics have to say of Taraji P. Henson as host and the episode as a whole? Here’s a roundup.
“…. There was an inoffensive sameness to almost every sketch tonight, with retreads competing with half-realized premises (often without endings) for bland chuckles. ….” — AV Club
“….If “SNL” had reversed the order of the sketches and showed the “Sesame Street,” “Janelle” and baseball pieces first, the episode would’ve been much stronger. Instead, the writers probably disappointed a lot of “Empire” and Henson fans early on who, more likely than not, gave up before things got good. ….” — The Wrap
“…. The popular co-star of Fox’s runaway hit series proved her formidable comedy (and singing) chops even when the material fell short — as it did more often than not — in her freshman appearance hosting SNL on a night that featured a couple of terrific guest cameos and a robust appearance by Mumfords & Sons. …” — — Deadline Hollywood
“…. Yeah, a few skits didn’t quite live up to their promising concepts — I really wanted that Game of Thrones parody to be great… but the jokes played fairly obviously, and it didn’t give Henson much to do. Still, Cookie Lyon’s portrayer performed with robust energy and a decided lack of self-consciousness that elevated the material she was given…..” – TV Line
See the video highlights of SNL with host Taraji P. Henson below!
>Henson as a QVC host
“South Centros” (“Game of Thrones” parody)
Weekend Update with Billy Crystal cameo
Celebrity Game Night; Henson as Wanda Sykes
“Sesame Street” and “Empire” mashup
Their Own League (Women’s baseball league)
Pictures: PR Photos