Live from New York: A fresh new look for a comedy staple “Saturday Night Live”

Going into its 48th season, SNL enters a transitional period in its history

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Official “SNL” poster | IMDB

By Asha Baron, Assistant Op/Ed Editor

“Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”

These are words that have been spoken hundreds of times from Studio 8H in 30 Rockefeller Plaza. SNL, or “Saturday Night Live,” has been a staple of comedy and late-night television since it’s premiere in 1975.

As the program  gets ready for its 48th season, viewers can expect to hear those famous words broadcast across the country once again. This season, however, will look and sound a little different from last. With the loss of well-loved cast members and the addition of some very new faces, SNL is entering a new era.

At the end of last season, it was announced that Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney and Pete Davidson would not be returning for the show’s 48th season. Earlier this month, it was announced that Melissa Villasenor, Alex Moffat, and Aristotle Athari would also be leaving the show. On Sept. 20, Chris Redd announced that he would also not be returning for the next season, bringing the total cast members departures up to eight.

It is unfortunate  to see these cast members depart, as many people, including me, grew up watching them on the show. Throughout their time on SNL , they have become well-loved fan favorites. Audiences tuned in every week to watch McKinnon’s vast array of political impressions, or Davidson’s Weekend Update segments on mental health. Their names and their faces have become synonymous with the show itself. So, what happens to program now that they’re gone?

Though it is sad for the audience to see so many cast members go, it was time for the actors to move on. Some had been with the program for years, and eventually, their time would run out. The last season of SNL had an extremely talented, though very crowded, cast of repertory players. The excess  of cast members made it hard for all the actors to get their sketches into the show. Many lesser-known cast members, such as Melissa Villasenor, got very little airtime throughout the season, where in previous years, their talents shined. It’s not that surprising for cast members to leave the show, but so many at once is rare.

This mass departure of cast members will begin a transitional period for the late-night comedy show. SNL veterans  Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong, and Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che will lead the charge, with the help of newer cast members Sarah Sherman and James Austin Johnson. This transition will allow SNL to experiment with new types of comedy and will, hopefully, bring a fresh feel to the show. Though it is time for a transition, SNL faces big losses as it enters a new season. Cast members and show runners alike will have to work very hard to fill the shoes left behind by eight departing cast members.

Arguably the  biggest loss SNL faces this season is Kate McKinnon. During her ten years on the show, McKinnon quickly became a fan favorite, even securing two back-to-back Emmy wins during her run. Political sketches will not be the same this season without her, especially with midterms around the corner.

McKinnon is known for her various political impressions crossing party lines, including Hilary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Rudy Giuliani, Jeff Sessions, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and many more. While the show still has decent impressionists, none have garnered as much popularity as Kate McKinnon did during her years on the show. Political sketches will not be the same without McKinnon in them.

Though the show faces many losses going into the new season, there will also be some promising new faces. SNL announced this month that there will be four new cast members joining this season: Marcello Hernandez, Molly Kearney, Michael Longfellow and Devon Walker. Molly Kearney will be the first nonbinary cast member to appear on the show.

There is an immense amount of pressure for the newcomers to live up to the legacies of past cast members, but they should be given a chance to find their place in comedy and create a name for themselves. These cast members will bring new characters and impressions to the show, giving fans something new to look forward to each week.

SNL undoubtedly has big losses to make up for, but they are definitely up for the challenge. The show has gone strong for 48 seasons and remains a staple of comedy in America. Year after year, they have continued to make comedy; through wars, a global pandemic and many political scandals. SNL has continued to pump out sketches that have helped many people, myself included, cope with hard times. New cast members will bring a fresh perspective  to the show and continue the legacy  for many years to come.

Though I am sad to see so many veteran cast members leave, I will still be tuning into watch the magic of the show come together to see how they cope with these losses and incorporate the new faces. “Saturday Night Live” premieres on October 1.

Asha Baron can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ashajbaron.