Kate McKinnon may soon be leaving Saturday Night Live. The Emmy-winning comedian has certainly left her mark on the sketch comedy series with notable celebrity impressions, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kellyanne Conway, Jeff Sessions, and Hillary Clinton. Now, the beloved full-time cast member may be making her exit at the end of season 44.
Created by Lorne Michaels, NBC’s Saturday Night Live has graced TV sets for over forty years. The live variety show has produced legendary comedians, memorable hosting moments and iconic sketches - which have spawned features, including The Blues Brothers, Superstar, and Wayne’s World. Hailed as the dominant force behind the world’s strongest comedic talent, SNL has showcased and pivoted the careers of Will Ferrell, Chris Rock, Tina Fey, Adam Sandler, Maya Rudolph, Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and many, many more. After emerging as a comic on Logo TV’s The Big Gay Sketch Show in 2007, McKinnon debuted on SNL in 2012. She was promoted to a series regular the following year. McKinnon’s bright entrance on SNL tapered the sting of Andy Samberg and Kristen Wiig’s exits - which occurred months prior. While being one of the cast’s go-to players for parodies and politically-driven cold opens, McKinnon was also busy with roles in Office Christmas Party, The Spy Who Dumped Me and Ghostbusters. Now, the acclaimed actress may be bowing out of her SNL tenure.
According to Deadline, the standard contract for an SNL performer has a shelf life of seven years. McKinnon joined the show in season 37, which means her contract is nearing its expiration. Reportedly, McKinnon and her representatives are discussing the balancing act it would take to keep her on the series. The wheels of McKinnon’s departure have been turning since January. Recently, she was tapped to star in and executive produce The Dropout. Ordered for a limited run on Hulu, The Dropout - based on ABC’s podcast of the same name - follows the unbelievable true story of Elizabeth Holmes and her company, Theranos. The scheduling demands of The Dropout and other projects may prevent a full-time commitment on SNL. With only a few episodes left in this season, McKinnon is still keeping the audiences in stitches, including a recent portrayal of Lori Loughlin in jail.
McKinnon’s possible departure may not be the only shakeup to the SNL cast. Supposedly, Kenan Thompson - who now holds the record for longest-running cast member upon his 16th season - has obligations that could alter his SNL schedule. Kenan is set to star in the NBC comedy pilot The Kenan Show. Produced by Michaels and also starring Andy Garcia, The Kenan Show follows the recently widowed Thompson as he struggles with single-parenthood. So far, Thompson has balanced schedules for both projects, but his future on SNL isn't certain.
Saturday Night Live has always made one message clear - the show must go on. Audiences often find it hard to imagine the series being the same without beloved cast members gracing the stage. However, each generation has had to bid farewell to graduates of the show. Once a cast member leaves the ranks as a regular though, that doesn't mean they won’t make an appearance later on down the road. Alumni are always returning as guest stars and hosts - such as Adam Sandler hosting an episode airing in May. With only a few episodes left in the season, no doubt McKinnon will continue to let her comedic skills shine. Regardless of what Mckinnon decides, she'll be known as one of the best Saturday Night Live cast members of her generation.