As an adult male, I am not a fan of Justin Bieber. Once upon a time, he was a cute, clean-cut and harmless pop idol, but a few years and a lot of success have seen him morph into a wannbe thug who is just as popular as ever despite being the 2013 equivalent of Vanilla Ice. I tried not to let my feelings toward the singer color my reaction to him as host of Saturday Night Live, which ended up being pretty simple. Bieber was easy to dislike as host not because of his baggage or his persona, but because he didn't do a very good job.
A lot of the night's sketches seemed to think it was funny enough to watch Bieber play an awkward or nerdy teenager, so he did that a lot. Otherwise, he mostly played himself. He wasn't very good at doing either, which is too bad because the writing and performances of the show's regular cast were better than usual this week. Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong and Aidy Bryant all had big laughs, and Jason Sudeikis appeared to be having fun in a sketch (not made available on the NBC site) that did nothing more than give him license to take shots at Bieber. It was great to see the cast make the decision to be funny whether or not the host was working, so we got a pretty good episode of the show (not great; there were some rough sketches and a heavy reliance on the familiar this week) that just happened to have a pint-sized black hole at its center. Next week, Oscar winner Christoph Waltz is going to host, but just because the host is a truly talented actor doesn't mean the show isn't going to face the same kinds of problems. (Read the full SNL Justin Bieber recap)
Photo courtesy NBC