Donald Trump’s presidency was the gift that kept on giving for Saturday Night Live. The 2016 election season took the late night sketch show to new creative and ratings highs, and SNL kept the ball rolling this year with biting satire of the president and officials in his administration.
The year’s best sketches were sharp, cutting, often brutal takedowns of politicians and the sexual harassers that were outed in the #MeToo wave. There were also sillier, goofy sketches that poked fun at cultural trends.
Here are the 10 best sketches of the year.
10. Pepsi Commercial
SNL ripped the much-criticized, tone-deaf Pepsi ad starring Kendall Jenner, in which she solved racial tensions with a can of soda. Beck Bennett played the director of the ad, who is horrified as he slowly realizes what a terrible idea it is.
9. ‘La La Land’ Interrogation
The night after Trump’s inauguration, Aziz Ansari brought down the house with a pointed monologue. But he hit a lighter note with this sketch, playing a guy who thought the (almost, but not quite Oscar-winning) movie La La Land was just OK and “kind of dragged in the middle.” That is not acceptable to the cops (Cecily Strong, Bennett) who question him about his questionable tastes.
8. Trump People’s Court
Alec Baldwin’s impersonation of the president was amusingly spot-on in this parody. When the judge (Strong) reminds Trump, who is defending his travel ban, that this is a TV court, he replies, “That’s OK. I’m a TV president.” So true.
7. Weekend Update: Claire From HR
In the wake of many sexual misconduct allegations, starting with Harvey Weinstein, Strong appeared on “Weekend Update” to give a handy HR quiz about appropriate workplace behavior. The questions and answers got increasingly ridiculous (yet still too true), reminding everyone that it shouldn’t be that hard to act like a decent person.
Ivanka Trump comes under fire in this fake perfume commercial, which calls out how the first daughter considers herself a “feminist” and wonders “but, like, how?”
This sketch was a savage skewering of both Kellyanne Conway and the TV news industry. Conway is portrayed as the desperate clown from the movie It, except she’s mostly hungry for screen time from Anderson Cooper (Alex Moffatt), who dumbly plays along.
Host Kristen Stewart and Vanessa Bayer play two women who get hot and steamy over a plate of pizza rolls during a football viewing party. The plot twist, Bayer suddenly speaking French, and the visual gag of the guys cluelessly cheering in the background made for perfection.
3. Welcome to Hell
As the sexual misconduct claims piled up, there was some backlash and befuddlement that this could happen to so many women so much of the time. Well, the ladies of SNL and host Saoirse Ronan were here to snark: Yes. It can. And it does.
Ryan Gosling grows increasingly unhinged about the much-maligned font, which was the title font for the Avatar movies. When he learns that it will continue to be the font for the future sequels, he does not take it well.
1. Sean Spicer Press Conference
Melissa McCarthy deservedly won an Emmy for her work on SNL this year, and it all started with this surprise appearance as Trump’s press secretary. The impersonation was instantly iconic — the gum-chewing, the shouting, the loose relationship with truth. And, you know, Spicer eventually lost his job, so take it as you will.
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