Questionable start for “Saturday Night Live’s” 48th season

Marit Erickson, Variety Editor

“Saturday Night Live” premiered their 48th season on October 1, 2022. The show was hosted by actor Miles Teller, with a musical performance by Kendrick Lamar.

Last season a whopping eight cast members left the show. The turnover became one of the biggest in years. 

Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney, Chris Redd, Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson, Alex Moffat, and Melissa Villaseñor were some of SNL’s most prominent performers. Thus, their loss has been significant. 

Joining the show this season are Molly Kearney, Marcello Hernandez, Michael Longfellow and Devon Walker. While the premier highlighted these names very little, a debut standup set by Longfellow was praised by fans. 

I think choosing to exempt these new names was a mistake. Although earning your keep seems to be a right of passage on SNL, the cast seemed lackluster throughout the entire episode runtime. 

Apart from a bank robbery BeReal sketch and a humorous jab at Adam Levine, the episode wasn’t incredibly successful. 

The worse sketch had to be “Grimace,” in which the Mcdonald’s mascot comes out as bisexual. That was the punchline- that he’s bi. I have never been more straight-faced in my life.

Another sleeper was “Charmin Bears.” A family of toilet-paper-loving bears argues when the son wants to dance rather than go to Toilet Paper College. The concept sounds like something I’d craft on my elementary school playground. 

The dumpster fire ended with Bowen Yang and Teller doing a TikTok dance, shallowly mocking Gen Z and reducing the entire sketch to SNL’s favorite trope, “teenager-dumb-Millenial-smart.”

“Nicole Kidman AMC Ad” just repurposed jokes that have been made by more creative creators on TikTok for the past year. 

The cold open for this episode was also incredibly disappointing. SNL went a meta, self-aware route by having Peyton Manning (played by Teller) react live to the sketch that is intentionally boring. The show’s writers must be embarrassed by the “SNL isn’t funny” allegations.

What’s even funnier than the cold open’s writing is the fact that, excluding Teller’s reactions indicating the sketch is meant to be bad, I would have thought it was written unironically. 

Premiering after more than a third of your cast retired with a sketch about Donald Trump, the Manning brothers, corn kid, and the gritty seems like a poor move. 

What’s most frustrating is this self-awareness being acutely accurate. 

Just like the cold open points out, humiliating attempts at relevance and, “a political impression that no one asked for,” have been SNL’s bread and butter for the past five years. 

Lorne Michaels, you can’t make fun of people for calling your show bad and then have a bad show. 

Whenever I ask family members what their favorite SNL era was it’s almost always the cast from their teenage years. 

This is hardly the case for today’s teens. One could blame this on the lessening impact of cable television, or it could simply be due to SNL no longer appealing to youths. 

It’s not for a lack of trying. Last year, Elon Musk’s “Gen Z Hospital” horrifically butchered Gen Z slang, or rather, what the thirty-year-old writers at SNL thought was Gen Z slang. In an attempt to relate to teens, the sketch came off as extremely tone-deaf, offensive, and painful to watch. 

Because online speech changes so often, it’s hard to sound relevant if you aren’t constantly engaging with the right content. When SNL writes for the younger crowd, they opt for a pop culture strategy rather than standard comedy that those of all ages can enjoy. 

One glimmer of hope, however, came through the aforementioned Longfellow. His standup was impressive and he’ll likely be a cast member to look out for in the episodes to come.