Is Saturday Night Live Relevant?

Is Saturday Night Live Relevant?Is Saturday Night Live still relevant? I suppose I should expand on that question here.

Is SNL still a weekly show people look forward to as it enters its 39th season? Would pop culture noticeably change without its presence? Could the average viewer name more than three current cast members?

While I could very easily state a case in favor of the above hypotheticals, for the sake of discussion, let’s say SNL isn’t relevant. I actually believe that’s a good thing in this case.

SNL isn’t so much relevant as it is gifted at remaining ahead of its time. The show survives by constantly closing one book and pulling a brand new one off the shelf. No — it isn’t relevant. But it’s necessary.

Like so many other fans of the show, there was a time and place where I fell off the SNL bandwagon and never quite recovered. The departure of Will Ferrell threw me off completely. It became impossible to replicate the anxiousness I felt over another installment of Celebrity Jeopardy.

SNL is undoubtedly a generational thing. I constantly heard my parents saying, “This version of the show could never hold a candle to the Belushi days.” I similarly find myself trying to express how irreplaceable Will Ferrell was to younger audiences.

Most recently, longtime cast member Bill Hader left the show. On his absence, Hader said, “It was a hard decision, but it has to happen at some point. It got to a point where I said, ‘Maybe it’s just time to go.’”

That’s the nature of the beast. Saturday Night Live is responsible for producing the Chris Farley’s and Will Ferrel’s of the comedic world – not to mention untold dividends to my own brand of humor. But the moment these figures become relevant icons, much like Hader’s  Stefon character, they typically depart SNL for the larger pond.

Some camps would argue SNL was hugely relevant as recently as the 2008 election cycle, during which Tina Fey played a scarily flawless Sarah Palin. Her portrayal was so pertinent it actually influenced the way people voted. It’s a valid point.

But I would argue we’re crossing wires at this point – let’s not confuse how relevant Fey was in place of  SNL. Fey wasn’t actually a cast member at the time – she left the show to star in her own show and movies.

SNL is more like a machine fueled by young and undiscovered raw talent. By making stars out of major players like Chris Farley, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray and Will Ferrell and releasing them back into the wild, the show is endlessly evolving. That’s the ebb and flow of things.

Saturday Night Live isn’t relevant but I think that’s kind of the point.

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