Does Saturday Night Live have a cold-open problem?

Saturday Night LiveMoving into Saturday Night Live season 44, we do wonder whether or not Saturday Night Live needs to reexamine one of its most time-honored traditions: The political cold open.

For many years, there was no question that this show could do something few others could: Spoof politics in a way that was funny, timely, and engaging. To a certain extent, it does still do that. However, there are a pair of variables that have clearly changed things up in a big way:

1. The political climate is different – When SNL used to do political cold opens, they had a lot more prominence just because there were fewer venues. Now, there is an abundance of shows spoofing the Trump Administration and there have been many times when a subject is already tapped-out by the time that it makes it to SNL. It’s meant that the shows just don’t have the same sort of freshness, which was also apparent just from the standpoint that the show this past year grew too reliant on impressions such as Trump (Alec Baldwin) or Jeff Sessions (Kate McKinnon), who really should have turned up maybe four or five times a season, at most.

2. Too many cameos – SNL mocked this in a very meta way during the finale, but it still doesn’t change the fact that the current cast is being held back by the abundance of A-list people who are coming on and taking over characters that someone else could have played. These are the sketches that get the most attention, and they’re not really doing anything for the current cast.

Let’s make one thing clear — there’s nothing wrong with SNL doing political stuff given that when it’s super-creative, it can be incredibly funny. Take, for example, the merging of The Bachelor finale and the Robert Mueller investigation. Unless the writers have an idea of that magnitude, however, we’d prefer to see the show try to find a way to do something other than just recycle the greatest hits from the past week featuring characters who have already turned up on the show a million times already. It’s all about repetition, and if you repeat the same thing too many times, it starts to become stale. If season 44 comes out with a broader focus and a better emphasis on the cast itself, SNL is much more likely to be successful in the long run.

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