SNL Cold Opening Highlights How Much We Missed Our Moms Over Quarantine

A soulful performance from pop star Miley Cyrus—covering one of her godmother's classic songs—brought on all the feels.

Saturday Night Live knows how to (playfully) have some fun with moms. Gifs and memes from the 2013 "Mom Jeans" sketch are still all over social media. And two years ago, Heidi Gardner and Emma Thompson hilariously showcased the realities of motherhood while dismantling the idea that there's a "perfect mom."

But this year, SNL struck a more emotional chord in its cold open. Though controversial entrepreneur Elon Musk had hosting duties, Miley Cyrus took center stage with a rendition of "Light of a Clear Blue Morning," a song originally sung by Cyrus' godmother, Dolly Parton.

The lyrics ("It's been a long, long time/Since I've known the taste of freedom") were a poignant nod to the Mother's Day reunions many were having with their families. As COVID-19 cases begin to fall and vaccination rates pick up in the U.S., some were able to see their mothers for the first time in more than a year—SNL cast members included.

Throughout the seven-minute performance, the comedians and their mothers hugged and joked. Kate McKinnon and her mom reenacted a classic Molly Shannon performance on SNL. Keenan Thompson credited his mom for teaching him how to perfect reaction shots. Cecily Strong was too emotional to deliver a punchline, opting to tearfully embrace her mother instead. And Colin Jost's mama was tempted to read Michael Che's jokes on live TV (he stopped her right before the whole family got canceled).

As the song ended, Cyrus belted out, "Everything's gonna be alright," as her own mother, Tish, joined her, the rest of the cast and their mothers on stage.

Usually, SNL aims to make people laugh so hard they cry, but this open brought on the happy tears. It may not produce a decade's worth of social media content like the "Mom Jeans" sketch, but it was undoubtedly a memory that will last a lifetime for the cast members and their mothers.

Miley Cyrus Performing on Saturday Night Live
Getty Images

Around the country, people had similarly emotional reunions this past weekend. A woman's surprise reunion with her mother in Palm Springs brought her mama to tears and went viral on Twitter. Another woman saw her mom for the first time in a year with a special news reveal—she's going to be a grandma.

Personally, I had my son at the end of February last year, right before the pandemic began. He met his cousins twice—through the window of a car. Yesterday, we were finally all able to get together in my mother-in-law's backyard. Our reunion didn't air on national television or go viral, and I was too busy living in the moment to even snap a photo. But I hope it's the first of many safe gatherings for years to come.

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