Saturday Night Live fans are going to look back on the last season of SNL fondly years from now. They’re going to remember Alec Baldwin’s Trump. They’re going to remember Kate McKinnon’s many contributions. They’re going to remember Melissa McCarthy and David S. Pumpkin, and they’re going to remember the year’s best skit:
They are also going to forget that 65-70 percent of the season was mediocre to bad (trust me, it’s true), that “Weekend Update” is a trash fire, and that Kyle Mooney is still a thing. Saturday Night Live is a lot like family vacations: You remember the great moments, but you forget the fact that you were hot and sweaty most of the time, the countless hours your children fought FOR NO REASON AT ALL, or the hour and a half argument you had with your spouse over what to have for dinner every night.
That’s OK. That’s the way it should be. Last year was a huge year for SNL, thanks to Donald Trump, thanks to a few terrific hosts, and thanks to the increasing diversity on SNL which put them in a position to create some of last year’s most memorable sketches. The show is as relevant as it has ever been, and it will be nice to have an institution beating Trump up weekly on the national stage again.
Heading into this weekend’s season premiere, there has been some minor turnover. Bobby Moynihan has left the show after his sitcom was picked up by CBS (it’s decent!); the underused Sasheer Zamata quietly left the show in May; and Vanessa Bayer is gone. I will miss her most of all.
Those three, however, have been replaced by featured players most of us have never heard of: Heidi Gardner, Luke Null, and Chris Redd.
The show has also added seven new writers — Sam Jay, Gary Richardson, Erik Marino, Andrew Dismukes, Steven Castillo, Claire Friedman and Nimesh Patel — and the good news is, at least three of them are people of color. The bad news is, only one identifies as a woman.
Unfortunately, the “Weekend Update” desk has remained unchanged.
The season kicks off on Saturday with hosts Ryan Gosling and musical guest Jay-Z, followed by hosts Gal Gadot and Kumail Nanjiani. We’ll be covering it, as usual, on Saturday night and Sunday morning. I expect that McKinnon will continue to crush it, and I think Melissa Villaseñor is going to rise this season, but I also think that this will be the year of Mikey Day.