Here's a question I never thought I'd ask: does SNL need more men?
Of course not, right? Only recently has SNL begun to shake off its "boys club" reputation, with a cast of seven men and six women (not counting the two male Weekend Update hosts), and a writers room still predominantly male. The current female lineup is more stacked and well-rounded than ever — there are few roles that Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, Aidy Bryant, Leslie Jones, Sasheer Zamata, or Vanessa Bayer can't handle, and I hope that deep field of female talent is here to stay. Considering how pathetic the gender ratio is throughout the late night landscape, and the way Hollywood reacted to a Ghostbusters reboot starring SNL ladies, true gender equality in the comedy world is still a long way off.
However, a new development has emerged in SNL's gender balance, in that many of this season's stronger episodes have featured a "guy's guy" host (Chris Pratt, Woody Harrelson, Chris Hemsworth, and now, Dwayne Johnson), while suitably funny female hosts (Sarah Silverman, Amy Adams, and Dakota Johnson) have struggled to stand out. While it's easy — and usually correct — to accuse viewers and critics of holding women to a tougher standard, in this case I wonder if the cast's masculinity shortage may help set the table for traditional alpha-males to steal the show. Of the men in the cast, only Taran Killam seems capable of playing the leading man, but even he tends to subvert that stereotype by going low status (see: "Brother 2 Brother," "Big Joe"). Kenan Thompson, Bobby Moynihan, and Jay Pharoah stick mostly to oddball roles and impressions, while Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, and Pete Davidson skew toward high-school and college-aged boys. The current guys all play to their strengths effectively, but SNL seemed less reliant on musclebound heroes like Starlord, Thor, and The Rock when it possessed everymen like Jason Sudeikis, Jimmy Fallon, or Will Ferrell.
Whatever the reason, Dwayne Johnson became the latest action star this season to hoist the show on his freakish shoulders and carry it across the finish line. In his fourth time hosting the show, Johnson once again leaned on his macho toughness, showing off a trademark bravado that kept the laughs coming with few lulls. While it rarely packed the satirical punch some of this season's finer hours have, this episode gave us the kind of raw, fast, and physical entertainment we love to see from the pro-wrestling and Furious 7 superstar. READ MORE