Over the course of its 45 year run time, “Saturday Night Live” has had many highs and lows. Known for poking fun at celebrities and politicians, this season of “SNL” proves to be no different. The 2020 Presidential Election is less than a year away now, which means all the political talk will just get a lot more intense as we near the caucus.
So far in Season 45, which premiered in late September, Woody Harrelson, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, David Harbor, Chance the Rapper, Kristen Stewart and Harry Styles have hosted. “SNL” has had some rocky moments in years prior, especially with Alec Baldwin portraying Donald Trump in essentially every cold open sketch.
This season they have been trying to mix it up by still having politically relevant cold opens, but instead focusing more on the slew of Democratic candidates. Kate McKinnon is playing Elizabeth Warren, channeling some of her Ruth Bader Ginsburg impression, as Warren has now polled ahead of Joe Biden in Iowa.
McKinnon has been a consistently strong cast member on “SNL” since her premiere on the show in 2012. During the episode hosted by Kristen Stewart, the “SNL” writers were clearly highlighting the missing gaps in Warren’s political platforms.
The sketches that “Saturday Night Live” has been producing and airing so far this season have been improving slowly after a couple years of low ratings and missing the mark on certain comedic deliveries. “SNL” walks a fine line of keeping viewers on their toes and keeping ratings up, all while still being politically relevant.
This season’s opener from Sept. 28 was its lowest rating opener since 2014.
In the ages 18-49 demographic, it went down 30 percent from the Season 44 opener and had an overall 1.6/10 rating. “SNL” doesn’t hit the same emotional notes for people the same way it used to. The digital sketches they produce prove to gain more YouTube views rather than any live sketch they produce from the show.
David Harbor’s spoof on “The Joker” portraying “The Grouch” gained 6.5 million views on YouTube. The Oct. 12 show only had a 4.0/11 rating. Overall, this is lower compared to most seasons from years prior.
The best sketches are ones that are taped beforehand, providing strong consistency for the show. In 2018 when Donald Glover hosted, he starred in a spoof about riffing on the latest blockbuster hit at the, “The Quiet Place,” intertwining the jokes with Kanye West’s tweets, calling it “A Kanye Place.” It was simply funny. It’s very rare to get those types of skits and content from “Saturday Night Live” anymore. All of this obviously depends on the host, what is occurring in the political climate and what the writers can deliver.
The most recent episode of “SNL,” where Harry Styles did double duty as host and musical guest had a 3.9/10 household rating and took the number two slot for the night, right behind ABC’s Oklahoma vs. Baylor College Football. Despite these bad ratings, Styles’ performance of his new single “Watermelon Sugar” quickly had over 500,000 views on YouTube by Sunday morning. Harry Styles, who is popular among the millennial demographic, will probably continue to garner viewers online.
The cold open for the show poked fun at the impeachment hearings which proved to have quality jokes aimed at Rudy Guiliani, Replublican Rep. Jim Jordan, former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and White House Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff. As the impeachment hearings get more intense, they provide ample ammo for jokes and comedic gestures.
Having a host that is game to play around in sketches and make fun of themselves proves to enhance the show’s content and quality. Styles was fun and was clearly excited to break out of the mold a little bit, and it’s always a good time to watch Harry Styles do essentially anything.