Producing stars and overnight sensational skits, “Saturday Night Live” was created by Lorne Michaels in 1975 where it premiered on NBC “live in New York.”
Debuting as “NBC’s Saturday Night,” the show has maintained its humorous charm and exclusiveness as it provides a quick laugh and an evening of smiles for all who watch from home.
SNL draws a certain type of audience to enjoy their material. Most of their viewers appreciate the show’s modern satire, especially when considering the performance is created for comedic pleasure and each script is meant to be a harmless joke.
“Saturday Night Live” hit its peak audience approval in the 1979-80 season when it received a 13.5 household rating. But when the actors from this cast left in the 80s, SNL’s ratings dropped hard with a steady decline in the following years.
The ratings went back up in the “Golden Years” of the early-to-mid ‘90s. “Saturday Night Live” was averaging 12.7 million viewers and a 9.2 household rating in the 1992-1993 season. This period contained many, now, famous actors: Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, David Spade and Will Farrell. These comedians eventually broke out of the SNL light and were able to pursue successful careers in Hollywood.
The ratings continued to go down until “Saturday Night Live” figured out the comedic genius of making fun of politics. Americans are known to stress about their political beliefs, but SNL chooses to focus on the oddities of each political candidate to create skits surrounding their unfortunate moments on television.
The rating went back up in the 2016-2017 season when returning celebrity guest Alec Baldwin and SNL cast’s Kate McKinnon acted as Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton, respectively, during the 2016 election. This was the first innovative take on the tension in political parties. These particular skits made each party’s supporters laugh from its truth to their candidate’s absurdities. But once again, ratings began to plunder after the initial uprise.
When SNL tried to continue their political success in 2020 to obtain a higher viewership, they were met with backlash and many watchers became tired of the repetitiveness and unfunny plots. The political climate was simply too intense to make careless jokes without offending someone. Instead of being humorous, people became upset about the unnecessary, biased bashing of their favorite candidates.
With new cast members moving in and out of the SNL spotlight, many supporters found it hard to continue watching the show when new members were inducted into the program. It seems to take a few years for viewers to adjust to the new dynamics and character relationships, but once they do, ratings tend to improve.
Most people began losing interest in SNL after their glory days in the 90s and early 2000s with now mainstream actresses and screenwriters Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. The newer generations began to think of “Saturday Night Live” as a “parent” TV show and one not with the times.
Pete Davidson joined SNL in 2013 and only found huge stardom in 2018 when he began dating pop star Ariana Grande. People of all ages loved his “Chad” skits and they have helped him develop a loyal fan base and score advertisement deals along with constant headlines on most drama related news sites.
His romances have sparked a new generation’s interest in the show. Staying updated with Davidson’s life and his relations with people in the public eye, has established a high rating report for SNL from the friends he brings to the show. Collaborating with heartthrobs like Timothée Chalamet, Kim Kardashian, Machine Gun Kelly and ex-SNL member John Mulaney on the show, Davidson’s dry, dark humor and boyish charisma engages a fandom of women and men alike.
Currently on its 47th season, comedians Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong, Pete Davidson, Aidy Bryant, Colin Jost and Michael Che are currently ruling SNL’s 2021-2022 term. With hosts from Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd to Kim Kardashian and host/musical guest Billie Eilish for the 2021 half of the term, the celebrity guests have become a huge part in audience viewership.
Kim Kardashian’s hosting of the second episode of the season outdid the season’s premiere for the first time in many years for SNL. It drew 5.27 million people to watch the live episode compared to the 4.94 million from the 47th opening with Owen Wilson. Kardashian’s first-time appearance and powerful roasts targeting her loved ones created an internet frenzy regarding her newfound comedic talent after her recent divorce.
Through making an effort to liven up the cast with younger, relevant cast members and guests, SNL has enabled a generation of growth for their team support. Despite constant view and rating fluctuation on the show, “Saturday Night Live” continues to conquer the media over the decades and has no means of slowing down.
And in the words of SNL news anchor Dennis Miller for seasons 11-16, “Guess what, folks? That’s the news, and I am outta here!”
Modern, most successful retired cast members that got their start on SNL (OPINION by 2021-22 newspaper staff)
- Will Farrell
- Adam Sandler
- Jimmy Fallon
- Tina Fey
- Chris Rock
- Amy Poehler
- Bill Hader
- Seth Meyers
- Jason Sudeikis
- Maya Rudolph
- Kristen Wiig
- Andy Samberg
- David Spade