Washington Square News

SNL Structure Needs Update

By Allison De La Bastida, Contributing Writer

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Live on Thursday morning comes another Saturday Night Live review, with a plea for SNL to revamp its style so it can thrive after such a highly rated season. SNL needs more diversity, not only in the way you’re thinking — although that is is needed too. Beyond racial diversity, other cast demographics need to change. Almost all the actors are 30-somethings with the same comedic style — Aidy Bryant, Colin Jost and Cecily Strong. While doing impressions of celebrities and politicians can be funny, SNL needs more comedic diversity.

It’s not that the cast is untalented. On the contrary, it’s just that they’re all talented in the same way — and that’s the issue. With no standout quirks or characteristics to really define the players, they all kind of merge into one. SNL isn’t watched anymore for its comedic writing and character execution, the basis of the show or even for the skits —- Donald Trump skits notwithstanding. People watch it for the A-list hosts and musical guests and to see if they shine or falter. 

Hosts are, of course, the main course to bring in a hopefully hungry audience, however the audience stays for just that and none of the other meals. The audience does not stay to watch the stand-alone cast show. After an episode, criticism is usually aimed at the star, rather than at the show itself. While I understand that this is largely how SNL works, it is also supposed to provide content for its own sake, not for the sake of the celebrity in it  

And it’s not like it hasn’t had success. SNL has handed out several viral and successful skits in the last few years, such as “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black.” But as any true SNL fans knows, the show’s glory days have stopped since the last of the longtime favorite cast members departed — think back to the exodus of Andy Samberg, Kristen Wiig, Seth Meyer, Bill Hader and Fred Armisen. Even the consensus among the casual viewers is the same. Humans admittedly have a general tendency to romanticize the past, but in this situation, SNL’s best days really are behind it. SNL was better 10 years ago because of both the combination of the writing and its execution by the cast — something lacking within the current SNL administration.

The writing needs to rise up. The quality so far makes me cringe everytime I watch. It’s not necessarily because it’s bad but because of how hard they’re trying to appeal to the younger demographic. It’s failing them. SNL in the past had some more intricate skits because the writers weren’t afraid to not be trendy. They were putting out what they considered to be their funniest writing. Fresh, new ideas are vital to start coming out of that writer’s room if SNL wants to hang on to the precipices of what the show is really all about. As of now, it only has our favorite neighbor Alec Baldwin, who portrays Donald Trump, to thank for the recent surge in views and ratings. The man did just win an Emmy for it. But one sketch, with one impersonation from a non-cast member, cannot be the sole savior of SNL. If it wants to do more than just survive on TV, it’s due for some structural change — and fast, before Baldwin gives up the Trump gig.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. Email Allison De La Bastida at [email protected]unews.com.

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