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Live From New York

Ryan Pfingst, World Page Editor

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Satire has always been a very powerful tool in our democracy, and the recent Saturday Night Live episodes are no exception to that. Since 1975, SNL has played a prominent role in our elections and politics by being the most potent institution for political satire. The 2016 presidential election provides the perfect example of this. With Kate McKinnon playing Hillary Clinton and Alec Baldwin making frequent guest appearances to play Donald Trump, the presidential debates, as well as the episodes early in President Trump’s term, made the show more successful than any other season in recent memory. Junior Kaitlyn Fenton recalled, “I wasn’t really interested in Saturday Night Live before this year, I just honestly didn’t find it funny. But the Presidential debates with Kate Mckinnon and Alec Baldwin were hilarious and since then, it has become one of my favorite shows, I watch it every weekend.”
The resurgence in popularity of the show is evident when one looks at the numbers. In fact, the episode in February 2017 with Alec Baldwin as the host
brought in the highest ratings the show has seen since 2011. This season, Satur
day Night Live is averaging 10.6 million viewers per episode, which is the largest audience the show has seen in 22 years, according to CNN.
What has helped this surge in viewership is President Trump’s actions and the actions of his cabinet, in addition to the willingness of celebrities to make guest appearances on the show to play these political officials. For example, many people enjoyed Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of President Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, who reprised her role in multiple episodes back in Febru
ary. Rosie O’Donnell also made it evident through Twitter that she would be more than willing to come on the show and play Steve Bannon, President Trump’s chief of staff. However, perhaps the largest catalyst for this SNL resurgence is the President himself.
It has become somewhat common knowledge that the President watches the show live when it airs in Washington D.C., and that is not something that the writers, producers, and actors involved in the show take lightly. Instead of focusing on their audience of millions, they are focusing more on their audience of one. His recurrent tweeting, expressing his disapproval of the show and its portrayals of him and his cabinet members have only fueled the fire. They realize that their actions are getting under the skin of President Trump and his administration, which is only enticing the show to continue satirizing the administration more. The show recognizes that what they say or do gets heard directly by the leader of our nation, one that many of them undoubtedly disapprove of.
Because of their knowledge of his presence, as well as the actions of the Trump administration, the show has become much more politically focused than in recent years. There has been a noticeable increase in the politically-based sketches this season, and some viewers truly appreciate that. Junior Jackie Grundfast stated, “I love watching SNL because I find it to be a stress reliever. I personally do not really approve of the actions of President Trump and his administration
but when I watch SNL, it turns all my anger and frustration with the way things are going in our country into laughter, and I really need that.”
The show is capitalizing on people’s frustrations for President Trump, and their disdain for his actions. Saturday Night Live is experiencing a renaissance because of this, one that could possibly last for the entirety of President Trump’s time in office.
So, anytime that President Trump does something that may cause you to become angry, frustrated, or even shocked, rest assured that Saturday Night Live will be reacting the same way, and will provide comfort for you that weekend.

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