Saturday Night Live closed the book on season 42 this weekend with presidential hopeful The Rock, the return of David S. Pumpkins, a very ravenous Katy Perry performance, and farewells to three cast members (Bobby Moynihan, Vanessa Bayer and Sasheer Zamata).
After struggling to satirize the Republican presidential race last year, SNL stepped up its game this time. It was arguably the most politically-focused season for the show yet, with Trump's entrance into the Oval: Kate McKinnon made Kellyanne Conway almost relatable, Melissa McCarthy turned Sean Spicer's rage spirals into comedy gold, Beck Bennett perfectly played Putin as a shirtless puppet master, Cecily Strong was cold as ice as the impenetrable Melania Trump, Mikey Day deserves extra credit for donning the grim reaper suit to play Steve Bannon, and Alec Baldwin was at the center of it all, portraying Trump.
Between the noticeably sharper political parodies, the historical first time hosts (Dave Chappelle! Aziz Ansari!) and the fact that the president routinely derided the show in his various tweetstorms, this also turned out to be one of the highest rated SNL seasons in over two decades.
As with previous recent seasons, we've compiled our favorite pre-taped segments, live sketches, monologues and fake commercials. This is all highly subjective, but think of it as a cheat sheet for the best of season 42. First up, check out the top 20 pre-taped segments and commercials. (We'll have more later this week.)
The Best Pre-Taped Segments (aka The Digital Shorts Awards)
During the first half of the season, there were several cinematic Melania Moments that popped up again and again to remind us that Melania has an inner life we can barely fathom.
Kate McKinnon helped turn Kellyanne Conway into a household name, and she popped up in a series of sketches throughout the season depicting her life inside and outside the campaign. The best of those came in in Lin-Manuel Miranda's episode, with A Day Off. (The weirdest and darkest was definitely the Fatal Attraction one with Jake Tapper.)
In response to the rise of cable dramas masquerading as half-hour comedies, Tom Hanks led the cast of Funny New Comedy, a new CBS show about a family of adjunct professors who are all diagnosed with depression on the same day.
Another great recurring bit all season was the behind-the-scenes "romance" between Kyle Mooney and Leslie Jones. It kicked off with a sketch in the Chappelle episode; the couple popped up in the background of several pre-taped segments; then was the subject of a full skit in the Melissa McCarthy episode with Mooney and Jones dealing with their marriage problems, jealousy and their child Lorne.
The Kristen Wiig episode showed us that life is still pretty okay in The Bubble, a place where you can escape reality but still have used bookstores and the freshest raw milk.
Through Donald's Eyes, from the John Cena episode, was arguably my favorite Trump-related sketch of the entire season.
Chance The Rapper stole the show in the Obama ode Jingle Barack (though host Casey Affleck was very good as dancing Jesus).
Hillary Actually was a lovely goodbye to Kate McKinnon's Hillary, also in the Affleck episode.
Host Aziz Ansari and Uber driver Bobby Moynihan both get very neurotic trying to have a Five Star ride.
Pete Davidson had a very stressful meet cute with host Kristen Stewart in Meet Cute.
In the Alec Baldwin episode, Leslie Jones decided she was ready to don the orange makeup and wig in Leslie Wants To Play Trump.
The country finally found a conservative to cheer in Republican Movie Trailer in the Octavia Spencer episode.
Cecily Strong had to deal with skeezy guys in Girl At A Bar in Spencer's episode as well.
The U.S. customs welcome video got some updates in Kristen Stewart's episode.
Louis C.K. got the tribute song he deserved in Thank You, Scott for his social media posts which really made all the difference.
Also from the C.K. episode, we find out what the director behind the Pepsi Commercial was thinking.
Birthday Clown, one more from the C.K. episode, was also great thanks to Bobby Moynihan... although it had a controversial origin, being very similar to a short film by Tig Notaro.
The simple physical comedy of Basketball Scene made me laugh out loud quite a lot in the Jimmy Fallon episode.
Things got very real for Chris Pine, Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett in The House.
Kenan Thompson and David S. Pimpkins were the stars of Rap Song from The Rock's season finale episode.
Honorable Mentions: Margot Robie was a very creepy sexy librarian, Melania & Ivanka swore off Donald in a Beyonce parody video, The Sink got its own internal monologue, we learned what happens during A Girl's Halloween, Dave Chappelle brought back a lot of beloved characters for a Walking Dead parody, Vanessa Bayer was perfect in Kids Talk Trump, reality filmmakers went on a Hunt For Hillary, the ladies of SNL put on a "Legally Blonde" musical, and Dyke and Fats solved another case.
The Best Fake Commercials
Some ideas are so simple you wonder how they never existed before. Other ideas are just CHONK, like this perfect little ad from Emily Blunt's episode.
Well For Boys, from Emma Stone's episode, was unexpectedly tender (and comes with its own unique backstory).
This year's installment of the ongoing Totino's ad added a sapphic twist (also in Stewart's episode).
Scarlett Johansson portrayed Ivanka Trump in the pitch perfect Complicit ad.
Amazon Echo got an upgrade for the greatest generation in Melissa McCarthy's episode.
And The Rock sold the heck out of Xentrex, the only enhancement drug that ends erectile dysfunction and causes night terrors.
Honorable Mentions:Koohl Toilet was a spoof of Apple's "1984" commercial, Target advertised its spacious, empty parking lots, Boston accents got out of control in the Dunkin' Donuts ad, and Alec Baldwin sold Harriet Tubman truffles for Russell Stover.