In its first show since it fired comedian Shane Gillis, “Saturday Night Live” debuted for its 45th season with a series of politics-drenched skits that sought to mine a week of political drama regarding the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump as a source of comedy.
In return, America shrugged.
The initial ratings in overnight metered markets showed SNL received a 4.1 household rating and a 1.6 rating among adults 18-49. The household rating was down 15 percent form last year’s opener, and the rating among adults 18-49 was down 30 percent, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The show opened with Alec Baldwin as Trump, and sought to find humor in the call between Trump and the president of Ukraine, with Baldwin taking advice from Kate McKinnon, who played Rudy Giuliani.
Alec Baldwin returned to his presidential role, while host Woody Harrelson debuted a hilarious impression of Joe Biden. https://t.co/anETyQMea7
— Esquire (@esquire) September 29, 2019
“You got to relax, Mr. Trump. We got nothing to worry about. Nobody is going to find out about our illegal side dealings with the Ukraine, or how we tried to cover up those side dealings, or how we planned to cover up the cover-up,” McKinnon said during the show.
Many on Twitter found the show stale.
SNL used to be my favorite program when it was funny like with Belushi Etc now it’s nothing more than bitter partisan politics then not funny there are repetitive, boring and not funny! Haven’t watched it in 3 years!
— Shaquena Brown (@BenitaRyan12) September 30, 2019
I see that @SNL is still going to the same, old, boring well. No creativity at all these days. New season, nothing fixed.
— banamazing (@banamazing) September 29, 2019
every political SNL sketch is a collection of the week’s most boring twitter jokes
— Will Martin (@mrwillmartin) September 30, 2019
The show did jab some of the Democrats running for president, as well.
During a faux debate, Woody Harrelson played former Vice President Joe Biden.
“Daddy’s here, America,” he said. “I see you, I hear you, I sniff you, and I hug you from behind.”
No mention was made of Biden’s connection to the Ukraine affair or his 2016 intercession to stop a prosecutor who was investigating a company to which Biden’s son, Hunter, had ties.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was portrayed by McKinnon, who at one point said, “I hope you all enjoyed hot girl summer, because it’s school librarian fall.”
Larry David, as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, promoted “free college, free health care, free refills on any medium-sized soft drink.”
The show largely avoided any mention of its controversial firing of Gillis, who had been signed for SNL’s 45th season, but was axed in mid-September after past comments that were viewed by some as racist, homophobic and misogynistic appeared.
Gillis apologized, but SNL didn’t budge.
“After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL,” a show spokesperson told Entertainment Tonight. “We want SNL to have a variety of voices and points of view within the show, and we hired Shane on the strength of his talent as a comedian and his impressive audition for SNL. We were not aware of his prior remarks that have surfaced over the past few days. The language he used is offensive, hurtful and unacceptable. We are sorry that we did not see these clips earlier, and that our vetting process was not up to our standard.”
Gillis later issued a tweet about being ousted from the show.
— Shane Gillis (@Shanemgillis) September 16, 2019
“It feels ridiculous for comedians to be making serious public statements but here we are,” he said. “I’m a comedian who was funny enough to get SNL. That can’t be taken away. Of course I wanted an opportunity to prove myself at SNL, but I understand it would be too much of a distraction. I respect the decision they made. I’m honestly grateful for the opportunity. I was always a MAD TV guy anyway.”
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