SNL: From Funny to Unwatchable!

The slow and miserable descent of Saturday Night Live…

Camilla Bartolone, Junior Writer

SNL has been a huge phenomenon over the years. Producing celebrities and comedians by the unique episode style and theme. Every episode consists of a new celebrity host, sketches and skits, and writers/cast. Each episode is different – but still composed of the same structural elements: opener, monologue, commercials, weekend update, musical performance, etc.

Over the past four or five years, though, SNL has been in the worst state it’s ever been in. Whether that’s due to the lack of talent or lack of the right talent, the comedy is undeveloped and needs retooling. Recently, the writing and acting has significantly gone down (right around 2008) and has ultimately led to just blatantly unfunny skits. However, SNL has never not been funny, though. There are definitely funny moments in the 900-episode series, but the tone of the show has shifted since 2013 and the humor has become poor. 

Each week, on Saturday night, there is a new celebrity host and musical guest that dictates the show’s course and who is in the sketches/skits. The good and interesting thing about SNL is that there are commercial parodies and advertisements thrown into the live acting sketches to make it seem like “real tv.” The ideas are all there, and if executed properly, are quite entertaining to sit down and watch.

The show’s older episodes have a few gems and iconic characters. During the late 90’s and early 2000’s SNL had a hot streak going for them. Famous actors such as Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, and Eddie Murphy started on SNL, so did late night show hosts Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers, and newer but still iconic actors like Bill Hader, Kristen Wig, and Fred Armisen. Recent cast members like Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennit, Kate McKinnon, and Aidy Bryant are what bind the show today. Without these exceptional actors SNL would not be holding off as long as it is. Their talents are shown well, and the sketches that they are in are quite funny. What is good about SNL is experiencing nostalgia throughout the seasons – with old cast members coming back to host, it also makes these episodes the most popular and memorable; it’s fun to watch.

 Now, it seems like they just write anything political to retain an audience’s attention span. Nothing makes me laugh out loud – the type of humor seems to be aimed towards older millennials or to, what the writers assume, people who are chronically online. The show has always been centered around politics, but recently ever since 2016 when Trump got into office, SNL has increased the number of political sketches by nearly double. Comedy with an agenda is not real comedy because it’s meant to make people argue – when it should be just to make people laugh.

Because of its longevity, SNL will always fall victim to curt vexation. It is so much easier to criticize the show’s comedic performance now more than ever, but for good reason. SNL was a huge spectacle decades ago, with so many memorable and iconic moments, however, as recent rankings and critic reviews show, Saturday Night Live has lost its flair. Less and less people watch or have any idea that the show exists, because there is nothing notable about the episodes except which celebrity is hosting or which political sketch the writers decide to put on.

It’s human nature to look back on things more fondly. Admittedly, time is valuable, and SNL has shown just how much people value the past. SNL has been on steady decline since the early 2000s and doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Overall, I would give the show 5.5/10 stars. The show goes live every Saturday night at 11:30/10:30p.m. on NBC!