The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same. And while the Trump presidency is certainly shaking a lot of things up in America this year, it’s also proven two things most people already knew — that Trump makes for good TV, and that political comedy does its best when the U.S. is under controversial leadership.
Between last year’s firestorm of an election and the president’s already numerous contentious decisions in office, Saturday Night Live in particular has had a field day. With fan favorite and Ghostbusters star Kate McKinnon acting as Hillary Clinton/Kellyanne Conway and Alec Baldwin frequently guest starring as Donald Trump, viewers are tuning in weekly to see what the ensemble cast will get up to next. So much so, in fact, that the series is generating its best ratings in decades.
According to TVLine, SNL is having its best year since 1994’s season 20, which featured Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, and David Spade as cast members. The show’s ratings are up a whopping 22 percent in total viewers from last year, nabbing 10.6 million to last year’s 8.7 million.
The show’s renaissance is likely due to a fine combination of celebrity guest appearances and political lampooning — and the reduced commercials can’t hurt, either. Last week’s SNL, which saw Kristen Stewart poke fun at the POTUS before explicitly coming out for the first time (and dropping the F-bomb), also featured an unexpected Melissa McCarthy in a sketch as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. This week’s episode will showcase guest Alec Baldwin for the 17th time, which means the president is undoubtedly in for some ribbing.
Given the ever-widening divide between politically minded people in the country, it’s good to know that there is a dependable de-stressor available for many Americans each week. Though many of the show’s sketches continue to be hit-or-miss, it’s cool to see SNL gain this historic recognition after working to diversify their cast and bring in more and more interesting celebrity guests. Plus, if the show is doing this well just after Trump’s election victory, imagine what other ratings milestones the show will see over the next four years. NBC just might need that Weekend Update spinoff, after all.
As the show continues to gain momentum, here’s hoping they keep pushing boundaries, regardless of backlash. As the show continues its fourth decade on air, let it keep doing what it does best: making everybody look ridiculous (even when they don’t need the added help).
Saturday Night Live continues Saturday with host Alec Baldwin and musical guest Ed Sheeran.