SNL Returns this Week: Here’s Why it Matters

Saturday Night Live’s 46th season premieres this Saturday, October 3rd live in studio for the first time since March. SNL has never stayed away from controversial subjects such as politics, so with America more divided than ever and COVID raging on, it will be interesting to see how they will tackle these topics. The premiere is scheduled, perhaps purposely, for the

Saturday after the first Presidential Debate, and the late night show recently announced actor Jim Carrey has signed on to portray Joe Biden. It is very likely the opening skit will be a parody of said debate. 

The question is, how will this affect voters’ attitudes with only one month left before one of the most important elections in American history?

It’s well documented that SNL has swayed elections in the past. Tina Fey’s dimwitted impression of then Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, for example, may have cost her and John McCain the 2008 election. Alec Baldwin’s idiotic portrayal of Donald Trump in 2016 however, was not enough to keep him from winning the Presidency, but it was enough to anger Trump. In 2016 via Twitter, he called the performance a “hit job”, and in 2019 he called the show “not funny” and implied it was one-sided. Former presidents, both Republican and Democrat, have been parodied on the show in previous years. Former presidents Barack Obama and George H.W. Bush have even appeared on the show to poke fun at themselves. Their appearances on the show made them seem likable, helping them in the polls. 

Donald Trump hosted the show in 2015, while his candidacy was still considered a joke to many. In comparison to former presidents who have appeared on the show and were “in on the joke”, Trump seemed uncomfortable making fun of himself, making for some awkward sketches. After his hosting gig, he made clear he is not a fan of the impersonations of him and others in his administration. Although it may not be in his best interest to publicly criticize a show with creative freedom to write him as idiotic and outlandish as they please, and is seen by millions of potential voters. 

These voters will be watching Saturday night, October 3rd. Will Baldwin and Carrey’s presumably over-the-top impersonations persuade voters? If history tells us anything, it’s very possible. You’ll have to tune in on NBC Saturday night and again for the Sunday morning news for reactions from Donald Trump, Joe Biden, other prominent political figures, and the American people.