Saturday Night Live and its politics

Saturday Night Live and its politics

Live from New York, it’s… your news?

Each week, we are pounded with constant news briefings and updates on a daily basis. By Saturday, we are ready for some comic relief from all the stress and tragedy in the world. Saturday Night Live has provided our grandparents, parents and now us with this relief for nearly 40 years. Although the network has had its ups and downs in viewership, the country consistently tunes in during election time.

Politics is always a sensitive topic that we avoid at the office and dinner table, but somehow SNL fearlessly addresses the most hot button topics, and often has us talking about them Monday morning.

Will Ferrell as George Bush, Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, Jay Pharoah as Barack Obama and countless other famous duos have made us crack a smile at some point, regardless of political affiliation. Politicians, especially in our society, are on TV 24/7 during campaign periods, and they are bound to make a mistake. Sure enough, SNL writers are glued to their TVs, waiting for that one mistake that will turn into the one-liner of the week.  

The most iconic example of this was during Sarah Palin’s ABC interview exclusive in which she famously said, “… you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska,” which was turned into one of the most well-known SNL quotes from Tina Fey, “I can see Russia from my house!” This line became the commonly held memory of the famous interview snafu, even though it originated from the SNL skit.

50 percent of Americans age 18-49 get the majority of their news from online sources, according to the Pew Research Center.  This trend bodes well for SNL, given their active social media pages and the viral capabilities of their skits. People are more likely to click on a video of Kate McKinnon impersonating Hillary Clinton from her press conference than the actual press conference, because Americans are choosing comic relief over harsh reality. Can you blame them? The viewership of the actual debates this past election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had competition from the SNL skit version with Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin (80 million views of the actual debate compared to nearly 25 million views of the SNL skit). These numbers reflect that SNL has become supplemental to actual news for the American public.

The truth is that the nightly news has become harder and harder to watch, but Saturday Night Live will never be anything more than a Saturday night tradition and a Monday morning conversation piece.

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