At best, the cold opens just echo the same beats and jokes as all those other programs (every good liberal recycles material). At worst, these sketches just coddle the audience by reflecting all of their assumptions and prejudices back at them: Yes, Trump is dumb, his administration is full of venal lackeys, Jeff Sessions is creepy, Cohen is a crook, all of your obvious, knee-jerk impulses and prejudices are correct. It’s not just playing to the crowd, it’s spoon-feeding the audience their own spit-up. It’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip come to life. It’s exactly the kind of smug, smarmy bullshit that makes conservatives angry enough at the Hollywood elite to vote Trump just to stick it to them.
Seen from the right light, it’s not just an unfunny lead-in to what can otherwise be a fine show. It’s a toxic example of limousine liberalism, millionaires putting on a self-congratulatory show with jokes cribbed from the New York Times editorial page—come to think of it, it’s exactly the kind of un-self-aware institution that a really good comedy show could grind down to size.