The ‘SNL’ Season With the Highest Ratings of the Past 20 Years

by Jeremy Spirogis
The ‘SNL’ Season With the Highest Ratings of the Past 20 Years

How do you retain a present operating for 45 seasons? For scripted narrative exhibits, it’s not possible (we hope). But a sketch-comedy present with gifted new solid members and writers continuously coming aboard has an opportunity. That’s been the successful Saturday Night Live system since 1975.

Checking the record of solid members, you discover most of the nice comedic performers of the previous 5 a long time. The record begins with John Belushi, Bill Murray, and Eddie Murphy, however SNL solely obtained warmed up by the ’80s. Dana Carvey, Chris Farley, and Will Ferrell reigned at varied factors of the ’90s.

By the early 2000s, the present’s rankings started to say no from the excessive factors of the late ’70s and the blockbuster ’92 season. (Chris Rock and a number of other different stars performed on that solid.) From 2006-08, SNL posted its worst rankings ever. But the present has continued to stage comebacks.

As in ’92, the highest-rated season of the previous 20 years got here in an election yr. It was the yr Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump vied for the presidency.

The 2016-17 season was a spotlight of the previous 2 a long time

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE — Mikey Day, Beck Bennett, Cecily Strong, Kyle Mooney, Emily Blunt, and Alex Moffat | Will Heath/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal through Getty Images

When Forbes ran down the high- and low-water marks of SNL rankings, the height years couldn’t have been a shock. With Belushi, Murray, Dan Akroyd, Gilda Radner, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, and Garrett Morris working collectively within the late ’70s, the present grew to become a smash hit.

In reality, the 4 seasons from 1977-81 nonetheless stand as the perfect for the present in its 45 years on the air. After that, you may see a sample within the present’s top-rated seasons. The stellar ’92 solid obtained an additional enhance from Carvey’s George H.W. Bush impression, and the ’08 election had its personal rankings bump.

And the highest-rated present of this century got here within the 2016-17, when Kate McKinnon starred as Clinton and Alec Baldwin did his well-known Trump impression in a recurring guest-star position.

Despite the recognition of McKinnon and Baldwin’s work, the system didn’t maintain SNL on the identical kind of roll in recent times. The rankings dropped (as anticipated) the next yr. It wasn’t till Murphy’s December ’19 look that the present matched its ’17 numbers.

The ‘SNL’ rankings in context in 2020

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE — Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump and Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton on October 22, 2016.| Will Heath/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal through Getty Images

As famous above, it’s unrealistic to consider SNL may stay dominant within the rankings in any case these years. Every change in solid and writing workforce has an influence on the manufacturing (nevertheless slight). That mentioned, the latest seasons have featured some uncommon shifts within the present’s dynamic.

For starters, whereas McKinnon shines in nearly each position she performs, most of the main components go to visitor stars like Baldwin (and ex-cast members) reasonably than present SNL regulars. Whether that displays a insecurity on this ensemble or not, it adjustments the present’s power.

Of course, it’s important to level to the writing workforce as properly. Since the 2017-18 season, when Michael Che and Colin Jost grew to become head writers, the present hasn’t maintained the extent of high quality of the seasons that introduced the present’s greatest rankings.

Will the 2020 election season — which for SNL begins in September ’20 — carry one other large bump? We’ll have to attend and see.

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