Live From New York… It’s Our Take on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE’s Evolving Cast

cecily strong snl
By: Victoria Nelli

“The show is doomed,” a phrase that has been said about plenty of shows. Usually followed by the show being canceled or completely changing and miraculously being saved, or in SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE’S case, a new season.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE premiered on NBC October 11, 1975, since it’s premiere it’s given 129 improvers a chance to show their talent on one of the longest running shows in television history. From Gilda Radner to Tina Fey, the show has not only jump started countless careers, it has also become a staple of New York, and a show people have grown up with.

With that being said, people grow with the show, but at a certain point the cast that they grew to love changes. They can no longer turn on their TV’s on a Saturday night and see Cheri Oteri, or Molly Shannon. But instead see Kate McKinnon and Vanessa Bayer. Lorne Michaels, the executive producer of the sketch comedy show said, “People attach to the cast they see in high school, in those years they generally can’t drive. They don’t have any money. Staying up late is exciting. So they’re very connected to the cast they see then.” I completely agree with that statement, but to a point. I grew up watching Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, Will Forte, and Kristen Wiig. Sure, I love them, and most of my favorite sketches are from them but my favorite cast members are from earlier years, and later years. People like Jimmy Fallon, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph, who are all from earlier seasons. Also people like Taran Killam and Cecily Strong, who are new to the cast.

Over the past couple of years SNL has slowly hired new cast members, and eventually only having Kenan Thompson and Seth Meyers left from the original bunch, with Seth possibly leaving this year. It’s harder on an audience when new cast members are introduced and old ones aren’t there anymore, no explanations, just gone. This year was a big transition year for the show; it welcomed new cast members, and no longer features Jason Sudeikis and Fred Armisen. With the goodbye of so many instrumental cast members the newbie’s really had to step up their game, and they definitely did! Taran Killam is arguable one of the best cast members on the show; he carries many of the sketches, serving as the lead male in the majority of them. Cecily Strong is another cast member that really proved her self this year, joining Seth on Weekend Update. It’s not an easy task, doing update and hitting the timing right and letting America see you as yourself and not as a character, but she came in and just nailed it. Bobby Moynihan has his drunk uncle bit and is always great, Jay Pharoah’s impressions are a staple on the show, as are Kate McKinnon’s. Kate is extremely talented and has transformed into one of the leading cast members on the show in the short amount of time she’s been in the cast.

This year SNL was in the media more than usual for a number of reasons. One being their racial issue, they hired 5 new white men to the cast this year, and there still isn’t a black female cast member. The media got wind of this and immediately started commenting on the issue. SNL even mocked themselves while SCANDAL star, Kerry Washington was hosting, making Ms. Washington change outfits and characters because of the lack of black female cast members. SNL hired Sasheer Zamata. She has a UCB background and is hilarious, and a perfect fit for the show.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE will be ok. It always is. To me, SNL embodies everything an incredible show is; it’s not going anywhere. There are always going to be the people who say, “it’s not good anymore” or “the original cast was the best.” But the show has to change, it has to mould with the culture it is appealing to. Its one of the longest running shows on television, it still gets nominated for Emmys, it still jump starts peoples careers, and it still entertains people. So say what you want, but I think Lorne Michaels is doing his job right, and the new cast is doing amazing work.

Victoria Nelli loves TV so much that she is paying $30,000 a year to learn about it in College. When she’s not learning about TV she enjoys writing about her favorite shows, interviewing anyone in the industry that will let her, and ranting about how underrated Parks and Recreation is. She is very much aware of her Netflix addiction, and no she will not be seeking help anytime soon. You can follow her on Twitter @VictoriaNelli