Saturday Night Live: Our Fearless Predictions for Season 48
Saturday Night Live is back, baby, in a season that promises reinvention following the blow-up of its bloated, stagnant cast of recent years. With the massive exodus of eight cast members (so long Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson, Kyle Mooney, Chris Redd, Melissa Villasenor, Alex Moffat, and Aristotle Athari), it’s one of the biggest shake-ups in the show’s history. What surprises will Season 48 bring? We’re slapping on our Halloween Express swami turban and firing up the comedy crystal ball to present fearless and unfailingly accurate predictions for the upcoming slate of shows.
Fearless Prediction: A new featured player (or two) won’t survive
Here’s the good news, Devon Walker, Molly Kearney, Michael Longfellow, and Marcello Hernandez -- you have been cast as featured players on the new season of Saturday Night LiveI
Now the bad news -- we predict at least one of you won’t be back for Season 49.
We’re not exactly going out on a limb here. Here’s our count of recently introduced featured players who didn’t last more than a single season:
*Season 47: Aristotle Athari
*Season 46: Lauren Holt
*Season 45: Shane Gillis *
*Season 44: Everyone Survived!
*Season 43: Luke Nall
(* Featured player Shane Gillis didn’t even make it to the first show. After his casting was announced, clips from his podcast surfaced featuring racial and homophobic slurs. You’d think they’d run cursory background checks on these guys …)
So recent history tells us that at least one new featured player will be a one-season wonder. Maybe previous firings were due to the huge cast size, limiting opportunities for newbies? We’re still placing a bet that someone won’t remain on the SNL Survivor island.
Fearless Prediction: Current cast members fill the Aidy/Kate void
Since at least the days of Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph, SNL has enjoyed an embarrassment of riches when it comes to lady cast members. (If you followed the show’s early years, you know that definitely wasn’t always the case.) That streak has continued in recent years, with performers such as Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, and Cecily Strong representing the show’s strongest voices.
With Kate and Aidy out of the picture (they dominated screen time when they weren’t off filming other projects), we predict the SNL spotlight will swing to Ego Nwodim, Heidi Gardner, Chloe Fineman, and Sarah Sherman. All have created memorable, quirky characters in recent seasons, but with more elbow room on the 30 Rock stage, we foresee breakout star turns on the way.
Fearless Prediction: Pete will return
It’s a given that former cast members will be back to host shows this year. Last season saw the return of Jason Sudeikis, Will Forte, and writer John Mulaney. The aforementioned Kate and Aidy would be naturals to make their return this year, but we’re putting our money on Pete Davidson to be the first wayward sheep to return to the flock. Why’s that?
First, Pete’s new Peacock series Bupkis, a show loosely based on his life, is expected to premiere in early 2023. (What, The King of Staten Island didn’t cover it?) Connect the dots -- a notorious star with a show to publicize, running on NBC-owned Peacock, produced by SNL’s Lorne Michaels? It would be professional malpractice not to use SNL as an in-house promotion machine.
Second, Davidson was a tabloid lightning rod for an aging show that can always use a jolt of youth appeal. While someone like Alex Moffat was a more versatile sketch player, his hosting return wouldn’t generate a lot of Reddit threads. But pair Pete with a musical guest like Ariana Grande? The resulting aggregator flood might wipe out the internet.
Fearless Prediction: Harry Styles won’t be back
Miles Teller is this year’s leadoff host, but you know who would have made a lot of sense? One Harry Styles, wildly popular musician and star of controversy-magnet Don’t Worry Darling. He got great reviews in 2019 pulling double-duty as host/musical guest, plus the cast loved him.
All the stars were aligned, except …well, there’s the whole thing about Don’t Worry director Olivia Wilde ditching favorite SNL son Jason Sudeikis and taking up with Harry. Then factor in the whole fiasco with Wilde being served custody papers while on stage, the veiled shots the former couple have taken at one another since, and the did-Harry-spit-on-Chris Pine? brouhaha.
We aren’t predicting Harry won’t host ever again. But Lorne might wait until the whole thing cools off in a year or two.
Fearless Prediction: The show pulls back on politics
It may be hard to remember, but SNL didn’t always open with a Trump skewering. Sometimes, the show began with actual comedy sketches.
In a year that’s indeed political -- the midterm elections are just around the corner -- but not one with huge national names in the spotlight, it might be time for SNL to return to sillier fare to open the show. Give gifted impressionist James Austin Johnson some goofy celebs to work on, introduce original characters, hit us with a song parody. Anything but the obligatory “the nation is waiting to see what SNL has to say about Florida flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.”
Or course, if any of these Trump indictments take hold, all bets are off.
Fearless Prediction: The Will-Lorne-Or-Won’t-Lorne? dance continues
We’ve been assuming all along that Lorne Michaels will produce for three more seasons, take a victory lap at the 50th-anniversary show, then ride off into the sunset.
“He’ll continue until the 50th anniversary year and then he will make a dignified retreat,” TV critic Tom Shales told the New York Post. “That is based on my talking to him. I don’t think it is humanly possible to go beyond that. (That) will absolutely be his last year. He’s said as much.”
But he’s saying other stuff too. In a conversation this week with The New York Times, Lorne swatted away the idea that 50 years is a perfect opportunity to tip one’s cap and say goodbye. “I have no intention to retire,” he insisted.
Why would he? Lorne will only be (gulp) 81 years old by the end of Season 50. Could Michaels be playing coy to keep SNL in the headlines for the next few years? (Does the average TV viewer even care who’s producing the show?) We’re guessing that speculation over who could lead the next generation of SNL would create even more buzz.
OK, you want one more prediction? Our crystal ball says it’s Seth Meyers.
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