Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Reel Thoughts: ‘Saturday Night Live’ marks its decline with boring season premiere

The+separation+in+entertainment+value+between+%E2%80%9CWeekend+Update%E2%80%9D+and+the+rest+of+the+show+made+me+question+whether+watching+the+entire+90+minutes+was+worth+my+time.+
Illustration by Shveta Shah
The separation in entertainment value between “Weekend Update” and the rest of the show made me question whether watching the entire 90 minutes was worth my time.

“Saturday Night Live” used to be one of my favorite parts of the week. 

I relished the opportunity to watch every crazy, confusing and concerning moment of the past seven days in sketch form. Does a U.S. Supreme Court decision terrify me? Does a popular song annoy me? Do I feel like the fly on Mike Pence’s head needs more airtime? Yes, yes and definitely yes.

More than any other program, “SNL” has always been clever and comprehensive enough to satisfy my cultural cravings. After six months without an episode due to the Writers Guild of America strike, I couldn’t wait for the show’s return. But this week’s Season 49 premiere, hosted by Pete Davidson, left me feeling pessimistic about the show’s future. 

Over the past few seasons, “SNL” sketches have increasingly looked like an empty regurgitation of the week’s events, with actors reenacting several political snafus or dragging one mildly relatable concept into a three-minute snoozefest. 

This week’s episode epitomized that trend, with five sketches relying on one running joke instead of an actual plot or witty commentary. One featured an imaginary actor answering internet questions about having diarrhea on an airplane, and the next was four long minutes of a ’50s secretary flirting with her boss.

Later in the episode, a man gets buried in the sand and wants a picture (wow!), and “Glamgina,” a new line of makeup for vaginas, stunned an OB-GYN played by Davidson. The show’s last sketch also fit into the recurring pattern of gross, absurdist mediocrity, centering on a group of The Cheesecake Factory workers who quit their jobs to sell feet pics.

As the season premiere dragged on, I felt exactly like Davidson’s character in the “Glamgina” sketch, reeling in confusion and disgust — and only continuing to look because it was my job. 

To its credit, the show had a few great moments, namely a perfect “Weekend Update” segment that might go down as one of my favorites of all time. Colin Jost and Michael Che took a scary political week and made fun of exactly the right things, and Kenan Thompson’s impression of University of Colorado Boulder head football coach Deion Sanders was one of his best. 

In any other week, this excellent showing from Jost, Che and Thompson would have been more than enough to save the episode. But this Saturday, the separation in entertainment value between “Weekend Update” and the rest of the show made me question whether watching the entire 90 minutes was worth my time.  

Perhaps that’s because the jokes and impressions featured in “Weekend Update” represent what I want all of “SNL” to be. They have depth and personality that feel completely lost in the sketches, whose writers conflate absurdity and discomfort with clever humor. 

The product is an episode that’s deeply unsatisfying and only funny in its moments that go viral on Instagram — a far cry from the late-night institution that once seemed like the perfect way to end an eventful week. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @claireconner_

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