Preview: Saturday Night Live gears up for 41st season

Kate McKinnon, actress on NBS's "Saturday Night Live," plays Hillary Clinton for the show's political skits. She was recently up for an Emmy for "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series" for her Clinton impersonations (Courtesy/NBC).

The rise of prestige television on cable and various subscription services has chipped away at traditional network programming, but NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” remains invincible.

The 41st season of “SNL” will premiere on October 3 with Miley Cyrus serving as both the host and musical guest.

Last season was highlighted by the show’s “40th Anniversary Special,” a three and a half hour broadcast that featured an astonishing amount of guest stars and "greatest hits" moments, both in live-sketch and montage form.

The special was extremely self-indulgent, but equally endearing to dedicated fans of the show.

The rest of the 40th season was uneven. The show struggled to find a consistent level of quality, turning out a forgettable dud for each of their excellent efforts.

The show’s overall reliability was brought down by the season-long failure of the staple news segment “Weekend Update,” which stagnated with unexperienced anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che at the helm.

Within the cast, very few changes were made for the upcoming 41st season. The entire 40th season cast will be returning and offbeat humor specialist Kyle Mooney was promoted from featured player to repertory status. The only new addition is standup comedian Jon Rudnitsky, who previously performed with “The Groundlings” comedy troupe.

Meanwhile, “Weekend Update” will have every opportunity to regain viewers’ trust as the U.S. political cycle moves closer to the 2016 election.

This year, there will be many targets for satirical tweaking, with the outspoken Donald Trump serving as the proverbial piñata. Taran Killam will get the first crack at portraying the controversial Republican candidate. Kate McKinnon will likely make many appearances as Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

As for the main course of “SNL,” the show’s live sketches have real potential to soar from chemistry alone, due to established continuity within the cast. But a few long time cast members may be at the end of the road, namely Kenan Thompson, who joined the show in 2003, and Bobby Moynihan, who came on board in 2008.

Featured players Pete Davidson and Beck Bennett could step up to take their places in the near future.

The first three guests for the 41st season of "SNL" include Miley Cyrus, Amy Schumer, Tracy Morgan and musical guests to complement the actors (Courtesy/NBC).

The show has very exciting guests planned for the following two weeks, following Cyrus' debut in the premiere.

On Oct. 10, Amy Schumer will make her first hosting appearance a few months after her film “Trainwreck” made her a mainstream Hollywood star. Appearing alongside her as musical guest will be The Weeknd, who dominated the summer with a flurry of catchy pop singles.

On October 17, “SNL” alum Tracy Morgan will host in his first acting role since being involved in a deadly traffic accident in June of 2014.

As “SNL” leaves the anniversary celebrations behind and embarks on another year of live humor, it remains an American cultural landmark that grabs viewers’ attention for its audacious stabs at comedy and its numerous celebrity cameos. Whether or not the 41st season will be funny is another matter entirely, but when the clock hits 11:30 on Saturday Night, it’s Live from New York yet again.


Tyler Keating is a campus corresspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at tyler.keating@uconn.edu.