SNL meets Gen Z where they are


Emma Coppolo, A&E editor

In recent years, “Saturday Night Live” has been trending downward. The shift in cultural appreciation of the show can be attributed to many factors, especially the heavy emphasis being placed on political sketches. The last few seasons have been deemed somewhat unbearable by the general public. This left many wondering how long the show would continue. Now in its 48th season, a resurgence seems to be occurring.

Possibly the biggest issue with “SNL’s” content in recent years is the inability to balance styles of comedy. The era of Eddie Murphy and Gilbert Gottfried versus Jimmy Fallon and Amy Poehler demanded an evolution of comedy to ensure the newer approach appeased audiences of each. In the transition of the latter to the era of Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong, though, many found a disconnect. Younger audiences immensely enjoyed the sense of humor being conveyed, but traditional viewers found it to be too juvenile or simply did not understand why it was meant to be funny. In an attempt to remedy this, “SNL” essentially began creating different categories of sketches: those meant for older viewers and those meant for younger viewers. The result was a disconnected show with fractured components that ultimately created a product that was unenjoyable to all parties.

The attempt to appeal to younger audiences entirely backfired. Sketches such as “Gen Z Hospital” took the worst parts of the generation and created one of the cringiest displays the show has produced in a long time. Genuinely no one enjoyed this. What “SNL” is learning is that Gen Z’s sense of humor is unpredictable and honestly somewhat stupid. The sketch of Timothee Chalamet and Pete Davidson as rappers spewing nonsense was an absolute sensation, and adult viewers had absolutely no idea why. The success of “SNL’s” future lies in sketches like these that are not desperately trying to appeal to younger generations but just do. In a way, the sketch was intended to be funny for entirely different reasons. The writers just need to accept the win and move forward with the information they gained from it.

One of the best decisions that “SNL” made in remedying this issue was altering their formula for hosts and musical guests. In recent years, more trendy and emerging artists have been featured, drawing in audiences that are not even necessarily interested in the comedy portion. Performances have become much more of a full production than an addition just tacked onto the end of the show.

This season’s performers are the most attuned to Gen Z’s sense of humor than they have been in a long time. While several long-term players have left the crew, four new comedians have joined “SNL’s” cast. One breakout star is Michael Longfellow. Longfellow is somewhat Pete Davidson’s replacement, appearing on the Weekend Update segments with Michael Che and Colin Jost. Longfellow’s blunt, dry sense of humor is delivered perfectly, and he is exactly what Gen Z likes the most about comedians like Davidson. Younger players like Longfellow are seriously helping “SNL” move into a new era of comedy that is majorly appealing to audiences. Hosts are becoming more catered for Gen Z, and just last week Keke Palmer announced her pregnancy while hosting the show.

“SNL” has started to feel like it has finally caught up with the rest of the comedy world. Only time will tell if this resurgence lasts. Tune in on Saturday, Dec. 17, to see “Elvis” star Austin Butler host with musical guest the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.