Saturday Night Live is entering its 49th season and since its debut on October 11th 1975, they have entered many different eras throughout their run. As a long time viewer of the show and the skits on SNL’s Youtube channel, I’ve noticed a recent shift in the sketches, hosts, and musical guests on the show. I feel that these past seasons they have been aiming to market to a younger Gen-Z or millennial audience.
I remember watching the first episode of the 49th season with my parents. The host was Pete Davidson and the musical guest was Ice Spice. I specifically remember the “Fox NFL Sunday” sketch about Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce. It was full of Taylor Swift references, like the Eras Tour bracelets and her past relationships, and my parents did not get any of the jokes. Usually, it is the other way around when we watch together: I don’t get the jokes. That episode they also had a sketch about the wired autocomplete interviews on Youtube, and Bowen Yang playing Christopher Colombus talking about boygenius. Both of these sketches were also paired with confusing looks from my parents. On top of that, the musical guest was someone they had never heard of: Ice Spice. Normally, they know them, but this time, not a clue.
This is when I really started to pay attention to the shift in SNL. This past episode, Timothee Chalamet was the host. Even though I feel like many older and younger people know him, the jokes were more catered to a Gen z or millennial audience. The nichest sketch was “Troye Sivan Sleep Demon”, it was about Troye Sivan and his viral Tik Tok dance for his new song being someone’s sleep demon. I can almost guarantee most of the older viewers, Gen X or even Baby Boomers, who usually watch the show have no idea about any references in the show like Troye himself and “the cure”: Logan Paul’s Prime Energy Drink.
Looking back on the past few seasons, I noticed the pattern of SNL slowly shifting to appeal to a younger audience. Some of the hosts have been Jack Harlow, Megan Thee Stallion, Jenna Ortega, and musical guests like Steve Lacy, The 1975, and Lil Yatchy, who are all arguably more known by Gen Z or millennial. The sketches in the past seasons have even catered to a younger audience like season 48’s “Fan Cam Assembly” with Pedro Pascal ,a sketch about kids making edits of their teachers. They also did a sketch that seasons called “Try Guys”, which was about the youtubers the “Try Guys” addressing one of them cheating on their wife, with Brendan Gleeson. Even this season’s “The Woman in Me: Auditions”, a sketch where the cast do impressions of celebrities like Steve O, Julia Fox and the new internet meme of Kevin James, with Timothee Chalamet. All centered around social media trends, influencers, and Gen Z celebrities.
With Gen X and Baby Boomers losing interest in the show, I believe SNL is trying to get a younger audience to tune into the show so they have a secure audience for future shows. They are trying to get them interested by referencing social media or putting popular Gen Z or millennial jokes into sketches. They also launched a Tik Tok account, which is one of the most popular social media sites Gen Z have. Full sketches are posted on their tik tok to get people hooked onto the show and want to watch it live. The new era of SNL is beginning and molding into a more Gen Z dominated show.