Sydney Sweeney hosts ‘SNL,’ and Glen Powell makes a cameo

Sydney Sweeney’s debut as “Saturday Night Live” guest host was a smooth one. The star of “Euphoria” and “The White Lotus” showed in sketch after sketch that she could hold her own comedically even if a lot of the material didn’t give her much to work with beyond playing off her sex-symbol public image or one-note stereotype characters.

That doesn’t mean the show didn’t have its moments. Maybe it was because of the very-short performances from musical guest Kacey Musgraves, but this week’s episode of “SNL” had a lot of live sketches. Sweeney played a 22-year-old intern who helps the NYPD solve cold cases by being good at social media; she flirted with Air Bud the dog as a high school cheerleader who will date the most popular player on the team no matter the species; a plaintiff on a silly 17-judge courtroom show called “Big Bench”; one of two wedding makeup artists who have bad timing in asking for money and Instagram pics when a groom runs off; and a Hooters waitress who keeps getting huge tips while her coworkers are ignored or abused by customers.

None of these were bad sketches, they just didn’t give Sweeney a lot of range to show, and they didn’t rise very far beyond their basic premises. She was much better served with “Bowen’s Straight,” a video sketch about all the people cast member Bowen Yang hooks up with because he’s secretly straight (they include a guest-starring Gina Gershon), a Please Don’t Destroy video we’ll talk about in a bit and an end-of-show piece about a couple on a date night that find ways to shut down noisy tables around them.

Musical guest Kacey Musgraves performed “Deeper Well” and “Too Good To Be True.”

This week’s cold open was a spoof of “Inside Politics with Dana Bash” featuring Heidi Gardner as the host. Guests including California Gov. Gavin Newsom (Michael Longfellow), White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (Ego Nwodim), Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas (Marcello Hernandez) and NBA star Draymond Green (Devon Walker) each took turns exaggerating President Joe Biden’s mental acuity and physical feats. Newsom claimed that Biden can catch a baseball in his sleep like Robert DeNiro in “Awakenings” while Jean-Pierre went over a presidential schedule that includes leading a SoulCycle class and winning a push-up contest. Mayorkas said Biden parkoured up the U.S.-Mexico border wall, dived into the Rio Grande river and came back up with a fish in his mouth. Each supporter repeated the phrase “Behind closed doors” as an increasingly skeptical Bash pressed for proof that these stories were true. When Newsom calls Biden (Mikey Day) on FaceTime, the frazzled president can’t raise the volume and instead hangs up on the call.

In her monologue, Sweeney joked that while you may have seen her in the movie “Anyone But You” or the show “Euphoria,” you definitely didn’t see her in the recent “Madame Web” (presumably due to its poor box office). She mentioned her upcoming role as a nun in “Immaculate”: “I play a nun so it’s perfect casting.” The actress said people know her for roles in which she’s either screaming, crying, having sex or doing all three at the same time. She charmed by showing a five-point PowerPoint plan she put together as a child to convince her parents she could break into acting, the joke being that her Plan B was “Show boobs.” Lastly, she addressed what she called false rumors that she and her movie co-star Glen Powell had an affair. Sweeney said her fiancé Jonathan Davino was on the set of “Anyone But You” every day and was, in fact, in the audience. But when the camera cut to show him, a surprised Powell appeared instead. Powell returned for the show’s last sketch as a boss having an affair with his employee (Sweeney).

Best sketch of the night: Airbnb interior designers

Sweeney and Chloe Troast play black-robe-clad interior designers Chanel and Chanel (the second pronounced “Channel”), who have a business helping Airbnb renters decorate their houses and apartments in ways we’ve come to expect. There’s “a single unsettling photo of the family that actually lives here,” worse sheets than you’d get in a hotel, a camera in the toilet and a 12-page packet on how to take out the garbage. Buried late in the show, it packs the most great jokes of any sketch in the episode, and will ring true to anyone who’s ever marveled at the bad decor in a short-term rental they’re occupying.

Also good: R.I.P. Rev. Butt Cheek P. Rosenthal

The Please Don’t Destroy boys returned this week with a very silly pre-taped sketch in which they are grieving the loss of their friend, a 1,500-pound man named Rev. Butt Cheek P. Rosenthal. He died after being kicked so hard in the privates by a donkey that he fell into the Grand Canyon. Sweeney hears the story and is incredulous, believing the guys are lying to her, until they show her video footage of the incident. It somehow involves Chef Boyardee and Tweets from Joe Biden, Malala Yousafzai and The Pope. This was a nice return to form for Please Don’t Destroy; oftentimes, these sketches don’t have to make sense, they just have to be really absurd, funny and well-edited.

‘Weekend Update’ winner: The ‘immaculated’ North Carolina stingray

Gardner played a slurring “Woman Who’s Aging Gracefully,” but it was Nwodim’s portrayal of Charlotte, a stingray who was mysteriously impregnated at a North Carolina aquarium, that won the segment. Nwodim, dressed in a huge stingray costume, immediately implicated “Weekend Update” co-host Michael Che as the father of the “little Che Ray” she plans to have. Unfortunately, she says, she may be having quadruplets and she knows Che can’t afford to raise them: “You work one day a week,” she said. While some have speculated that the real stingray’s pregnancy may be the result of an immaculate conception, Charlotte shoots that down: “You immaculated and then I immaculated three times back to back,” she tells Che. “I would say you broke my back, but I ain’t got no bones,” she concludes.

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