SNL: The Show That Wouldn’t Die
In recent months Nielsen (the Godfather of TV ratings) has declared Saturday Night Live to be among the season’s top-ten regularly scheduled entertainment series, for adults 18-50. A lofty approval rating never before awarded to a non-prime time show. Viewership for this NBC’s sketch comedy series soared by more than 30 percent, compared to last season, reaching levels it hasn’t seen since the Clinton era. Who can forget the infamous Monica Lewinsky sketch played by John Goodman?
This 42nd Season of SNL has been loaded with spot on sketches, most provided by actors and actresses who ‘guest appeared’ or ‘hosted’ the show. Alec Baldwin as President Trump has been touted ‘perfection’ by the public and those who reside in tinsel town. Baldwin’s antics as President hopeful Donald Trump were done to such a delicious degree, rumors spread throughout TV land that Baldwin should be awarded the Best Actor Emmy Award for his portrayal. And who can forget the ‘surprise’ visit by Trump’s Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, overzealously played by an almost unrecognizable Melissa McCarthy? The video of McCarthy throwing back gum and yelling at the press corps went viral almost immediately and will go down in history as one of the funniest SNL sketches of all time.
Saturday Night Live has been on NBC since October 11, 1975. This mark of longevity for a TV show is not only incredible but truly unbelievable. It concluded its forty-second season on May 20, 2017, earning it the prestige of being one of the longest-running network television programs in the United States. Throughout the years there have been many ups and downs and at times the show was considered ‘lackluster’ and lacking the appeal to keep it on the air. Throughout the marginal years where executives discussed cancelling the show and letting it have a sudden death, the ratings have also dived and dipped. So what has happened to ‘revive’ this show, this icon? Was it just the political hot button that all of America seemed to have their hand on? Or was it something more, something not political at all, but entertaining?
SNL’s improved numbers cannot be linked solely to the loyal fan base or the quality it delivers. It would be ludicrous to ignore the fact that America was waking up each morning to political news that was ripe with anger and hatred, a fight among us. Trump with his outspoken, unrehearsed (at times) comments that caused a stir in his own party. Hillary Clinton, the first woman to run for the presidency, already polished and poised from years of living with Bill in the White House, yet steeped in scandal over a private email account. Their antics being rebroadcasted every Saturday night on SNL by Baldwin as Trump and Hillary Clinton, expertly portrayed by SNL regular, Kate McKinnon. Yet, was that the deciding factor for such a huge sweep in the ratings? Perhaps a strong push, yes, but we must also consider it’s the only LIVE Variety/Sketch Comedy Show on TV. Having no competition is always a good thing for any TV show. One factor that the industry would be certain to point out is the fact that the series was able to add 3+ million viewers each week simply through delayed viewing. Set the DVR and go to sleep, you’ll get to see the show in the morning or that evening after work. This allowed all those viewers who are just too old to stay awake to watch SNL on Saturday night, to see it the next day. This aided in SNL’s biggest demographic gains this season: kids 2 to 11 (+54 percent) and adults over 65 (+50).
So will SNL continue its reign and hold onto its large share of the Nielsen pie next season? If you’re the betting type you’d wager yes. The next four years are going to be abundant with political satire perfect for the SNL stage. SNL: four decades and still going strong.
As one favorite and beloved SNL comedian said so famously:
“Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell, no!” John Belushi in “Animal House.”
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