#SNL Is Riding A Rating’s Hot Streak As They Prepare For Their Most Important Episode Of The Season
SNL – Comedy seems to thrive in adversity—according to the latest ratings for Saturday Night Live, the long-running satirical sketch show is seeing its highest numbers in over 20 years. Variety reports that Donald Trump’s victory at the polls, as well as his relentless “criticism” of the show, have boosted viewership among among adults 18-49. SNL’s February 4 episode was the second highest rated of the week, trailing behind The Big Bang Theory.
Here are some more numbers that attest to this yuge development: SNL’s viewership has grown by 19% among adults 18-49, and 22% in total viewers (that’s now 10.6 million), when compared to the same period last season. NBC says these ratings are the highest they’ve been since the 1994-1995 season.
When Donald Trump vowed to ‘Make America Great Again’ on the campaign trail, I can’t imagine he thought that his actions and words would catapult a late night comedy institution to create their most popular work in decades. Believe it or not, here we are, and SNL has been thriving under Trump, turning in a superb season including one of their best episodes last week. The biggest reason for that is embedded above, as Melissa McCarthy made a surprise guest appearance as Sean Spicer and left us all floored in the process. The ratings for the season as a whole are at a 22 year high (the highest since the 94-95 season with a cast featuring Chris Farley, David Spade, Adam Sandler & Mike Myers, among others) and they’re about to take part in their most important episode yet. The main reason for that is because the host for Saturday’s show (Alec Baldwin, hosting for the 17th time) is the man pegged with playing Donald Trump. In most election years the shows from September-December/January would feature the candidates and the President elect, but this year has been different. Every cold open has featured Baldwin’s Trump in some way, and it’s working.
There are people who think SNL should stray away from Trump and get back to other sketch topics, but that is impossible to do when the President himself is tweeting about your show every Sunday morning. Like everything else Trump tweets about, it’s 100% negative, and it’s clear that the material SNL is putting on air is getting under his paper thin skin. Nobody loves themselves more than Donald Trump, so it must kill him to watch himself get parodied every week. SNL knows that, and knows that he’s watching, which must make the ratings news that much sweeter for the writers and cast. Will Baldwin’s Trump be a one and done in the cold open like episodes past, or will SNL rely on him for multiple sketches throughout the show? Nobody knows the answer except for Lorne Michaels, who has the final say on what sketches make the air, but from a logistical standpoint, my guess is that Trump will only be featured in the cold open. It’d be tough to continually get Baldwin in and out of Trump’s makeup and wardrobe throughout the show, but I wouldn’t sleep on some kind of pre-taped digital short featuring Trump.
The other big question floating around social media is ‘who will play Steve Bannon’? SNL chose to portray him as the Grim Reaper on last week’s show, but that doesn’t strike me as a long term solution. Will it be a current cast member or will they stray outside the box like they did with McCarthy? The AV Club has a fascinating article detailing why it shouldn’t be Rosie O’Donnell, and I 100% agree. While it would be a deep personal dig at Trump, I don’t think it would have the impact some people are hoping for. The reason McCarthy’s Spicer worked so good and is because it was completely unexpected and McCarthy is a comedic gold mine. O’Donnell clearly isn’t as talented as McCarthy, and at this point the whole world would be expecting it. That same article throws out possible picks of Robert De Niro, John Goodman and Jonah Hill. De Niro has been publicly against Trump in the past, but I don’t know if at this stage he’d be willing to do something like this. Goodman has already played Rex Tillerson this season, so casting him as Bannon would be overkill. Of the three, Hill would be the best choice, especially if he can get himself to that deranged, maniacal level we’ve seen during past hosting stints. If I had to pick a current cast member and a random celebrity, I’d go with Bobby Moynihan (channeling his evil political Kim Jong-un impression, only less wacky) and I’d go full throttle crazy and put Danny DeVito on there. I dare you tell me you wouldn’t watch Danny DeVito in a hair piece playing Steve Bannon.