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‘Look at Her Now:’ Selena Gomez Shines on SNL

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Selena Gomez graced the audience with her lively presence on Saturday Night Live as host alongside Post Malone as the musical guest on May 14. Gomez served as the musical guest for a 2016 SNL episode, hosted by WWE wrestler Ronda Rousey; however, this marked her first time hosting the American late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show.

Like all other hosts on SNL, Gomez opened the show with her monologue by expressing her excitement, as well as talking about her impressive acting career that started when she was only seven years old. From making her on-screen debut as Gianna on the children’s series “Barney & Friends” from 2002 to 2004, she went on to become one of Disney channel’s most iconic stars through her role as lovable and witty teenage wizard Alex Russo in “Wizards of Waverly Place.” Leaving her Disney days behind, Gomez has since gone on to have a successful singing career and made a name for herself as an executive producer on popular television shows like Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why.” 

Recently, she starred as Mabel Mora in Hulu’s true-crime comedy show, “Only Murders in the Building,” alongside Steve Martin and Martin Short, who she will be reuniting with for the show’s second season. Given that both Martin and Short are SNL legends, Gomez found it fitting to ask for their advice on hosting for the first time. While Martin advised her to “trust no one,” Short hilariously commented that he thinks Martin was using his credit card. 

Gomez also asked Miley Cyrus, another iconic Disney star and old friend, for advice since Cyrus also hosted the show back in 2015. Doing a spot-on impersonation of Cyrus’ deep Southern accent, Gomez recited Cyrus’ advice of “Just be yourself and have fun,” which was met with an uproar of laughter and applause from the audience as Gomez joked that it was the perfect excuse to imitate Cyrus.

Photo provided by vulture.com

Given SNL’s history of being the ultimate Hollywood matchmaker, from forming couples like Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost and Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson, a single and ready-to-mingle Gomez admitted that she was open to finding love on set. As SNL cast members lined up to volunteer as Gomez’s new love interest quickly afterwards, it was refreshing to see Gomez embracing the single life, especially after her love life had been scrutinized and exploited by the tabloids for years on end. Despite having gone off the grid for four and a half years after her “Revival” album era, her growth in maturity and self-love has been truly awe-inspiring and was clearly reflected in her 2020 “Rare” album that saw her reclaiming her self-confidence after taking the time to truly find herself. 

In SNL fashion, Gomez starred alongside the show’s cast members in nine satirical skits that showed off her acting range — from portraying a sassy Bratz Doll in “Bratz Dolls” with Bowen Yang and Aidy Bryant, to a perfectly posh British princess in “Three Daughters” alongside Ego Nwodim and Kate McKinnon. 

While “A Peek at Pico” saw her embracing her Latina side by playing TV show host Sofia, with Melissa Anne Villaseñor as TV show host Vanessa, “Irish Play” had her play a clueless understudy who only had 30 minutes to rehearse before going on stage, with Kenan Thompson taking over as an anxious director who had to remind his actors their lines every second. 

In “Guidance Counselors,” Gomez played a supermodel who returned to her high school as an alumna at the request of the school’s guidance counselors to encourage its hopeless students to pursue a career in modeling instead of going to college.

Taking a jab at modern day romance, she played a distressed girlfriend in “Intuition” who worried that her boyfriend was cheating on her, leading her to check all of his text messages before proceeding to smash his belongings despite finding no evidence of him cheating and letting her intuition get the best of her. 

Photo provided by theguardian.com

In reference to international pop culture references, “Old Enough! Long Term Boyfriends!” is a parody of Netflix’s Japanese show “Old Enough!” that sees children run errands by themselves for the very first time as a camera crew follows along, except SNL replaced the children with “useless” long-term boyfriends. Gomez, playing girlfriend Kelsey, tested her long-term boyfriend Matt, who was played by Mikey Day, to run errands for her, such as buying groceries and makeup products for her.

The episode also included special guest appearances with Post Malone appearing briefly in “Baby Monitor” as a gigantic baby. In this skit, Gomez played a teenager who called her friends over to hang out at her house even though she was supposed to babysit two babies. Martin made a cameo in the filmed segment “American Inventor” where Gomez narrated a profile on Arthur Gizmo played by Martin — a fictional innovative engineer behind the whoopee cushion. 

At times, the hilarious skits had Gomez breaking character before she quickly composed herself back and finished up the skit. However, Gomez’s quick-witted and innate acting skills blended seamlessly with SNL’s cast members, as though she was one of them. Gomez has and will continue to amaze the world with her talents — whether it be her singing career, her acting capabilities, becoming an executive producer, running her successful make-up empire “Rare Beauty,” starring in her own cooking show “Selena + Chef” or launching her own cookware brand “Our Place.” Gomez is clearly just getting started, and we can only wait and anticipate what else she has lined up next. 

Annabella Johan is an Entertainment Staff Writer. She can be reached at ajohan@uci.edu.