HBO’s The Last of Us is one of the biggest TV shows on any platform right now, with audience numbers setting new records from one week to the next. No surprise, then, that Saturday Night Live would figure out a way to give an affectionate nod to the apocalyptic series over the weekend. With Pedro Pascal hosting the latest episode of SNL, that was pretty much a foregone conclusion, right?
The Mario Kart fan in me ended up absolutely loving the show’s approach with its The Last of Us-inspired sketch. The gag is that HBO has done it again, reimagining a beloved video game as a prestige HBO drama replete with moody, atmospheric visuals and a dark and somber protagonist. The game this time? Mario Kart.
SNL Mario Kart sketch
Dressed in overalls and a red shirt, as well as the familiar newsboy-style cap, Pascal’s Mario has his back turned as another character slaps some of Mario Kart’s familiar golden coins on a table while demanding she has important cargo she needs “smuggled to Rainbow Road” — and that “people say you used to drive.”
“People say a lot of things.”
“You got a name?”
“It’s-a me … Mario.”
This sketch was clearly the brainchild of writers with a love of the classic Nintendo game franchise, because it’s all here. The different cars, the fact that a driver is unable to dodge a red shell, the way karts spin chaotically when you drive too close to a banana peel … even little things, like the Princess in this sketch asking Mario what happens if he drives off the road. A tortoise on a cloud with a fishing pole, Mario calmly tells her, brings your kart back.
A giant Goomba even makes an appearance, sauntering around menacingly like one of The Last of Us’ horrific zombies.
The Last of Us Episode 4
Speaking of The Last of Us, fans of the series are bracing themselves for Episode 4 coming Sunday evening, which is titled Please Hold My Hand and looks to be another emotionally devastating hour of TV (following last week’s standout episode that introduced viewers to Bill and Frank).
To get an idea of just how big of a series The Last of Us is for HBO, the network said that last Sunday’s Episode 3 pulled in 6.4 million viewers, up 12% from the week prior and up 37% from the series’ debut (that audience was measured using Nielsen and first-party data).
Moreover, with the show’s viewership now averaging 21.3 million viewers across its first two episodes, it joins three other HBO series in what’s now a first-ever milestone for the network: A total of four current HBO series have what the network describes as cross-platform audiences averaging more than 15 million viewers per episode. The four shows include The Last of Us, House of the Dragon, Euphoria, and The White Lotus.