"SNL" Season 38: New characters, same political messages

At the start of Saturday Night Live’s 38th season, one question remains on everyone’s mind: How on earth can this show even hope to be funny now that Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg have left? The departures of these well-loved comedians last season left audiences questioning how the late-night sketch comedy show could still produce funny skits without its leading lady and “digital shorts” master.

Wiig is probably most famous for her role in the gut-bustingly hilarious film Bridesmaids. Some of her memorable SNL characters include the tiny-handed singing sister on the “Lawrence Welk Show,” the heavily-accented soap opera parody in “The Californians,” the crazy Target cashier and, of course, the mischievous child named "Gilly."


In an attempt to fill the enormous gap in the cast left by Wiig, SNL has added two new ladies to their cast. Unfortunately, however funny these women may prove to be, there will always be a comparison to Wiig in the back of viewers' minds.

Samberg, on the other hand, is the mastermind behind the hilarious digital shorts that air each episode. He and his comedy music group The Lonely Island have produced side-splitting gems such as Dick in a Box, I’m on a Boat and Lazy Sunday.


Without these shorts, the episodes this season are missing a certain something. Another new male cast member has also been acquired, yet so far he does not seem to have the strong comedic presence that Samberg possessed.

Even with the loss of these amazing comedians, this season is showing great potential. With the election approaching, the political sketches are thriving and the parodies of the current candidates are spot-on.

One interesting change is the replacement of Fred Armisen in the role of President Obama with newcomer Jay Pharoah who, unlike Armisen, is African American. Armisen’s portrayal of the president has often been criticized as poorly done and the political parodies including Obama used to spend minimal time on the president himself to avoid a poorly executed representation. Now that Pharoah has taken over the role, the response is overwhelmingly positive as he is better at replicating the president’s style of speech.

Although they changed the actor who plays Obama to a newer cast member, the show’s producers left Jason Sudeikis in the role of Mitt Romney. Sudeikis has been a part of the SNL family for eight years, while this year will mark Pharoah’s third season. This raises the question of whether the producers felt the need to trade out the 11-year cast member, Armisen, with Pharoah because of the strong possibility of Armisen leaving the show in the near future. Are producers warming audiences up to a new Obama because they believe that he will win the election and will need to be a consistent character for the next four years?

Saturday Night Live’s political lean has been rather apparent throughout the years, with a positive focus on the more liberal or Democratic candidates. The most recent political sketches have continued with this trend by distinctly making fun of Romney and Paul Ryan’s policies while lightly poking fun at Obama and Joe Biden’s personalities (but not so much their political stances).

When asked if the show favors liberals, Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers replied, “I think you could certainly make the argument… Yes, there are more liberal people involved in the show,” as reported by The Huffington Post. It will be interesting to see whether or not the parodies and sketches presented in the show will influence voters in the upcoming election.

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Only child who regards all her friends as siblings - whether they like it or not. Obsession with all things pop culture, television, and theatre (verging on slightly unhealthy). Cant' remember the last time she went to sleep before 2am. Gets into heated arguments with anyone who thinks New York pizza is not the best food on earth.