Recap of Justin Bieber and Issa Rae’s Saturday Night Live Episode

Justin and Issa. Courtesy of

Ryan Gorneault, Staff Writer

Saturday Night Live aired the third episode of their 46th season on October 17th. While the show may have lacked the controversy and general sense of chaos that the previous episode brought thanks to a sudden change in musical guest and a reasonably controversial host, Bill Burr, the cast still put in a good effort. Featuring guest host Issa Rae of Insecure and Awkward Black Girl fame, as well as musical guest and global pop-star Justin Bieber, the episode made sure to poke fun at everything from the dueling town hall meetings between Donald Trump on NBC and Joe Biden on ABC, to running into embarrassing exes on first dates, to Montreal-based news programming that relies on “Drake-Watch” segments for viewership.

The cold open featured the now-infamous town hall meetings. However, it portrayed them “as the viewers at home saw them,” featuring channel changes whenever Biden boringly rambled and as Trump increased his debauchery. Jim Carrey returned to play Joe Biden, and Alec Baldwin reprised his role as Donald Trump. Both again watered both candidates down to their most cartoonish personality traits and quirks to perfection. Carrey and Baldwin managed to up the insanity every time the channel changed. By the end, Biden had transformed into Bob Ross, and Trump had started a WWE-style brawl against moderator Savannah Guthrie, played by Kate McKinnon.

SNL’s most famous segment, Weekend Update, again delivered with co-anchor Michael Che likening NBC’s decision to have the Trump Town Hall on their network to their associations with Bill Cosby and Matt Lauer. While also making fun of Kanye West’s campaign for president, likening him running in 2020 to Little Richard running against John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960. Other highlights of the segment include Carla The Famous 80s Cocaine Wife (played by Heidi Gardner), and Aidy Bryant’s mini-segment called Aidy in America, in which Bryant travels the United States to talk to undecided voters (she quite literally could not find any undecided voters, as she got lost in the middle of nowhere, away from any sign of civilization).

Justin Bieber, who was once called one of the worst SNL guest hosts of all time by former cast-member Bill Hader, came full circle with his song Holy (featuring Chance the Rapper) and Lonely (featuring Benny Blanco). Both performances were touching, with Holy being about his relationship with religion and his wife Hailey Bieber, and Lonely’s lyrics touching on becoming famous as a child and how that was a detriment to his mental health.

While the episode ended up being a little lackluster due to lesser-than-great writing and a smaller studio audience, it was still a solid effort. Rae’s inclusion in the sketches seemed to bring fresh energy to the episode, and Bieber successfully redeemed himself during his performances. All-in-all, while not essential viewing, the episode was still a somewhat fun watch. Next week’s episode will feature guest host Adele alongside musical guest H.E.R.