Most of us have seen a skit or two from Saturday Night Live at some point in our lives that poked fun at a recent event, or portrayed some quirky or ridiculous situation. In fact, many of us have been fans of SNL and their sarcastic satire. However, the hyper-critical tone of these late-night sketches have increased in recent years, particularly reflecting today's political climate. While some longtime fans of this show agree with this new direction, its ratings have decreased in the new year, causing for suspicion in their choices in satire. Specifically, the plethora of sketches portraying Presidential matters.
Political satire is not a new concept for SNL, by any means. Over the years, political comedy became something that people responded to. Whether it was a result of a dislike towards the political figure, or the openness to teasing and opinion, it was something that the general consensus approved of. You might be wondering, “Why is the portrayal of politics only now becoming an issue?”. Unfortunately, the answer will not be found here simply because there is not one concrete reason. However, I will leave you with my own speculations.
First, it’s important to recognize the ever present tone of politics and the role it continues to play in our day to day lives. Political and social issues are held close to the hearts of many individuals, and for this reason their portrayal, whether negative or positive, have personal effects in the lives of many. Additionally, the multitude of social issues present in our society and their outright display in SNL’s sketches leave many uncomfortable. I think it’s safe to say that while most of these political issues aren’t brand new, they’ve only recently been in the limelight, making their portrayal on SNL important in the lives of many.
SNL’s decreased viewership became evident after Jessica Chastain hosted and took to the stage during the week of the annual Women’s March. Like previous episodes, the “Me Too” movement was highlighted and showcased in multiple sketches throughout the evening which has caused many to wonder if this was the reason the ratings were comparatively unsuccessful. SNL has made a tradition in which every opening is dedicated to something that happened in the White House that week, or politics in general. Nearly all of these openings, since 2016, have portrayed Trump in what some perceive as a negative and inaccurate light. Since 2016, ratings and viewership has decreased approximately 15%, according to Entertainment Weekly, which many are saying is a result of the heated political climate and the stance the show has taken.
While SNL has recently taken their political stance as anti-Trump, the question of whether their ratings will continue to decrease is pressing. Although a majority of frequent watchers identify as liberal, they’re excluding another portion of the population, one that could make or break their future. In my opinion, taking a stance that reflects the values and morals that you believe in are far more important than ratings. (I guess that’s why I’m not a TV writer). The future of SNL is questionable, however the legacy that its created will not be fading anytime soon.