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The Rundown: The George Washington ‘SNL’ Sketch Is Juuuuust About Perfect

The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items could vary, as could the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday, and we are here to have some fun.

ITEM NUMBER ONE – “No one knows”

I have watched the George Washington sketch from last week’s SNL maybe eight times since it aired. I’ve sent it to everyone I know. I sent it to one person twice because they didn’t respond right away and I forgot I sent it and got a little excited. I bet I watch it again this weekend. I bet I watch it when I paste the link below this paragraph, which I am going to do riiiiiiiight now.

Watch it if you haven’t. Watch it again if you have. It’s very good.

See? See how good that is? I promise I won’t over-examine why and how it’s good. I won’t do that to you. I might do it a little, though. It just takes such a simple little premise (the American system of weights and measures is silly and nonsensical) and takes it to deeply absurd levels, which is already a recipe for a good sketch. And it has Kenan Thompson doing Kenan faces, which has never been anything but delightful. It’s just really good.

Esther Zuckerman at The Atlantic wrote a nice thing about it, too. Listen to Esther.

What followed was an extended riff on the U.S.’s choice to abandon the metric system—and, by extension, a parody of the American vision of liberty. “I dream that one day our proud nation will measure weights in pounds, and that 2,000 pounds shall be called a ‘ton,’” Washington said. When a soldier played by Bowen Yang asked, “And what will 1,000 pounds be called, sir?,” Bargatze deadpanned, “Nothing.” As Bargatze’s Washington waxed poetic about various bizarre American measurements, such as “rulers with two sets of numbers: inches on one side, centimeters on the other,” that “won’t line up and never will,” another soldier (Kenan Thompson) chimed in, asking, “And the slaves, sir, what of them?” Washington ignored the question. The beat landed potently, in part because Bargatze played the general as a slightly dim everyman whose priorities would influence the new nation.

This brings me to the other thing: Nate Bargatze is so good as Washington in this sketch. He’s a great standup comic, so it’s not shocking that he understands things like timing and delivery, and yes, this is where I drop the link to his monologue, which I have also watched a number of times this week…

… but there’s also a bigger point to be made here. I understand why SNL sometimes has to chase Cultural Relevance with its hosting selections, why every now and then the show reaches for someone Very Famous who might not have experience with sketch comedy. These are the things that keep the show relevant with casual viewers and mentioned on daytime talk shows and it’s all really fine. I get it. The sausage has to get made.

But there is something to be said for trotting out a lesser-known entity and giving them some truly weird toys to play with and letting a little magic happen. Magic like this sketch. I can’t even remember the last sketch I enjoyed this much. I think I’m going to watch it again. And I might send it to that buddy of mine a third time. You know, just to be safe.

ITEM NUMBER TWO – This is all just really sad

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Matthew Perry died last weekend. You already knew that. The news has been everywhere. It’s been kind of strange for a lot of us to process, mostly because, like, I don’t think we really grasp how popular Friends was when it was airing on Thursday nights in the 1990s. Something like 20 million people watched every week. That’s, like, 10 percent of the entire country at the time. Sometimes it was more. The episode that aired after the Super Bowl was watched by double that. You could walk up to a total stranger and be like “Joey is at it again” and people would know what you meant. It was a different time in a lot of ways.

The whole thing just made me… sad. Very sad. Perry had famous struggles with substances in his past and seemed to be fighting hard to get past that, but he was also, more importantly, just super talented. The Chandler Bing of it all became a caricature over time as most wildly popular things do (could we BE any more predictable as a society?), but the fact that it got that popular in the first place says a lot about Matthew Perry’s performance.

My colleague Mike Ryan wrote a really nice thing this week about all of it and how sad it is.

Matthew Perry has been a constant part of our lives for almost 30 years now. Friends debuted in September of 1994 and seemingly never went away. It’s hard to explain, now, what a cultural force it was. I was in college when Friends debuted and Thursday night was the big bar night at Mizzou (I assume this translates to all colleges, especially Big XII — at the time — state schools) and people would not leave their televisions until the entire NBC Thursday lineup was completed, after ER. And the bars closed at 1 am, which didn’t leave a lot of time, so that’s how important these shows were. It’s always weird watching a new show, especially a sitcom, as we are thrust into these people’s lives that we are supposed to care about and like. I will never forget the moment the show hooked me when Chandler asked Ross, “Could you want her more?” Ross answers, “Who?” To which Chandler sarcastically says, “Dee, the sarcastic sister from What’s Happening.” That’s a clever line, just esoteric enough that a lot of people will get the reference at the time (probably not now, but Dee was sooooo sarcastic), but not everyone will. I was hooked and Perry did the hooking.

I don’t know, man. I don’t have too much to add to that. I’m not great at articulating bummers. So, instead of doing that, or trying and flailing, I’ll just post this clip I watched again this week.

Rest in peace, buddy.

ITEM NUMBER THREE – A wild week for Guy Fieri

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Good news and bad news on the Guy Fieri beat this week. Bad first, just to get it out of the way.

Remember how Guy Fieri was going to officiate Kristen Stewart’s wedding? How she joked about it and Guy Fieri was like “hell yeah” but serious about it? How all of this happened?

Well, it brings me no pleasure to report that this is no longer happening. Kristen Stewart said so herself, for reasons that are actually pretty understandable.

Fieri’s team “reached out and were like, ‘You know, we are down for this.’ And I was like, ‘Me too, but also I’m bad at planning stuff, so I’ll hit you up soon,’” Stewart told host Andy Cohen. “I think we’ll probably just marry each other and then call Guy and say, ‘You were here in spirit, babe.’”

Okay, fine. It’s her wedding. She can do whatever she wants. I’m sad about it, but still. I can ask Guy Fieri to do my wedding if it’s such a big deal to me. And anyway, it all brings me to the good news, which is cheering me up a lot.

The Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives host created Flavortown Spiked, a line of malt beverages with Two Roads Brewing Co., PEOPLE can exclusively announce. The first flavor to launch the brand is a hard fruit punch, which Fieri describes as “adult Kool-Aid — but not as sweet.”

I must have this at once.

“You can’t say fruit punch and not smile. And you can’t say Flavortown and not smile. And hopefully you can say Guy Fieri and think good times,” the Food Network star tells PEOPLE of deciding on the debut flavor.

The man makes some excellent points here.

PEOPLE got a first taste of the spiked fruit punch and Fieri’s description is spot on. It tastes like the nostalgic drink but more hand-crafted. Rather than overly sweet, it’s refreshing and fruit-forward. You can truly taste the fresh cranberry and citrus notes. The boozy-ness is subtle, even with 6% ABV.

Two notes in conclusion:

  • I hope he sends 50 cases of this to Kristen Stewart for her wedding reception
  • I don’t know how one goes about getting on the “media members who get to taste test Guy Fieri’s new spiked fruit punch” list, but if you see it lying around anywhere, please scribble my name on there

Thank you.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR – Please close your eyes and try to hear these in Winona Ryder’s voice

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Welllllllll Netflix is out here talking about its latest offerings, which means they’re all talking about the next season of Stranger Things, which is still happening even though the kids on the show are now all old enough to sip on a Flavortown Spiked Punch between scenes if they want. I don’t know. It’s weird. But it did give us this quote from executive producer Shawn Levy about approaching Winona Ryder for the role all those years ago.

Series director and executive producer Shawn Levy revealed Ryder’s initial inquiries during a recent interview on the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast.

“She opened by asking, ‘What is Netflix? What is streaming? Is it like TV but different?’” Levy remembered. “That was the starting point… Yeah, Winona took a little onboarding to explain this emerging form of storytelling called Netflix and streaming.”

Three things here, again via bullet point:

  • I choose to believe he said these things while doing a perfect impression of Winona Ryder’s very specific voice and delivery, and if any of you have video that disproves any of that, please keep it to your damn self
  • As my buddy and coworker Martin Rickman noted when he sent me this story, please close your eyes for two seconds and picture this scene in the office and tell me you can’t see the exact faces Winona Ryder is making while saying these things
  • It’s easy to forget now because streaming basically dominates all of television but this was a weird idea at the time and Winona Ryder made some good points here

I’m sorry for swearing at you in that first bullet point. I just get a little passionate about these things.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE – Ariana Grande seems cool

We can be quick here, once again thanks to bullet points:

  • This is a video of Ariana Grande and her Victorious co-star Elizabeth Gillies that they made for Halloween
  • It is a re-creation of a famously campy scene from the movie Showgirls, with Grande in the Elizabeth Berkley role
  • It has long been my position that Ariana Grande seems like a cool and fun person who is probably a lot of fun at a party and nothing I see here does a single thing to disprove any of that

This is cool. More like this, please.

READER MAIL

If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at brian.grubb@uproxx.com (put “RUNDOWN” in the subject line). I am the first writer to ever answer reader mail in a column. Do not look up this last part.

From Amanda:

Do you ever find yourself developing little crushes on television characters on shows you watch? It happens to me all the time. My biggest one is still Ben from Parks and Recreation. I have a whole fictional scenario in my head where we are married and have two children (Abby and Connor) and a fluffy dog named Milo who runs around the yard.

[Brian Grubb voice] I’m normal.

Who are your TV crushes?

This is a great email, partially because I like to know I’m not the only person who watches television like a complete weirdo (lol hi Amanda) and partially because I have an answer that is both current and allows me to link to a thing I just wrote.

I have a crush on the Pirate Queen from Our Flag Means Death.

I don’t know exactly what it is about her. It’s not even like a creepy leering thing. She just fascinates me. The performance by Ruibo Quan helps, with the delivery of the lines and the way she carries herself, but it’s more than that. I mean, look at this.

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She would extremely murder me very much. I think I would be okay with it.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Tennessee!

Approximately 32,000 cases of Twisted Tea worth an estimated $800,000 were stolen from a Memphis distribution center last month, Memphis Police say.

$800,000

TWISTED TEA

HEIST

The manager told police that on September 1, about 17 or 18 trailer loads hauled the beverages from Blues City Brewery to the distribution center. The beverages were scanned, and it was documented that they made it to the correct destination.

But the manager began receiving phone calls from clients saying they had not received their products. The distribution center is not open to the public and only accessible to employees.

Please stop here and get a clear mental image of some dude — let’s say his name is Trevor — screeching up to a house he shares with four buddies in a stolen tractor-trailer and saying “BROS CHECK THIS OUT” and whipping open the back gate of the truck to reveal almost a million dollars worth of contraband spiked iced tea.

They’ll live like kings.

Twisted Tea is a tea-flavored alcoholic beverage.

This remains an ongoing investigation.

Two notes in conclusion:

  • I like to believe the second sentence here is related to the first and this is all just an important part of the journalistic endeavor
  • It’s fun to picture them calling in like The Rock’s character from the Fast & Furious movies to handle this investigation

I would absolutely watch this movie. Good for Trevor.