Saturday Night Live’s 46th Season Premiere is a let down

Sarah Buchmann

SNL’s first episode was on October 11, 1975 and is the longest-running show on late night television. 
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When the pandemic first hit, Saturday Night Live (SNL) was one of the first responders in entertainment. 

That is, they switched their live shows to “at home” recordings via Zoom. 

They tried their best, I’ll give them that, but I was certainly relieved to see that for the month of October, they would return to my television screen with a live studio audience. 

And upon hearing that Jim Carrey would be a reprising cameo as Joe Biden throughout election season, I was even more excited. 

But I watched last week’s episode, and frankly, it just wasn’t the same. 

The setup is pretty much the same as it used to be: cold opens, studio audience members, a celebrity host and a musical guest. 

But SNL has undergone some dramatic changes in screening their cast and audience members before the show starts. 

According to the New York Times, SNL actually paid the audience members to sit in on the recording this past Saturday night. 

The New York state guidelines say that shows “must prohibit live audiences unless they consist of only paid employees, cast and crew.”

Complying with this statement, SNL paid each audience member $150 each after they had obtained their tickets and confirmed that they did not have nor were exposed to the coronavirus. 

Even with these precautions for the audience, I was still concerned about the rest of the cast and crew. 

Host Chris Rock joked in his opening monologue about being constantly tested the past week in regards to rehearsals, even making a crack relating to drug use and having things up his nose. 

This made the audience erupt in laughter and whoops, which brings up another concern – what about the water droplets from excessive noise and shouting? 

Even if all of the audience members are wearing masks, there is still a high risk of spread in an enclosed area like the SNL studios. 

I was also concerned for the actors, none of whom were masked and they were all in pretty close contact with each other. 

While this didn’t exactly affect the comedy of the show itself, it was one of the little nagging thoughts in my mind. 

Former SNL cast member Maya Rudolph as Kamala Harris and Jim Carrey as Joe Biden.
Photo: Getty Images

As for the content of the episode, I was rather shocked as to how dark it went and how quickly. 

I always look forward to the debate season episodes of SNL, but this past week was much different than I’d seen in the past. 

The opening skit, as expected, was a mock of last week’s presidential debate, which was ridiculous enough on its own. 

But throw in Alec Baldwin as President Trump and Jim Carrey as Joe Biden, the antics were heightened immensely, and not necessarily in a good way. 

Carrey blew the audience away with his impression of Biden, but the majority of the jokes were at Trump’s expense and not in a tasteful way. 

The relentless bashing against the President and quips about karma and his contraction of the coronavirus were beating a dead horse. 

I understand that SNL is supposed to be political, and that NBC tends to be a pretty left wing channel. 

I’ve enjoyed their Trump mocks in the past. But it was ridiculously over the top. 

Biden made his own blunders throughout the real debate, and while Carrey presented these through forced smiles and thought trails as Biden is prone to do, the political biases were embarrassingly evident throughout the skit. 

The rest of the skits were pretty well done, I would go to say. 

My favorite one was probably the one where many characters were given completely inappropriate yet hilarious names, such as Duncan Dixon-Coffey or Mike Rodick (say it outloud…it’s funny, I promise). 

And musical Megan Thee Stallion was great to watch – she’s definitely a talented performer and a great dancer. 

I’m sad to say that SNL is off to a rough start this year. 

But as our political and pop culture situations continue to evolve, I hope the season will continue to grow and prove its worth in comedic television.