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YMMV: Saturday Night Live

The show as a whole contains examples of:

  • Acceptable Targets: Used with varying degrees of intensity: the more the writers hate it, the meaner they'll be. So far, everything has been ripe for parody.
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: Channing Tatum's first time hosting (who actually was a stripper for a year before becoming an actor), the monologue especially. The only non-stripper bits people remember from this episode is the Newt Gingrich: Moon President cold opening and the Weekend Update segment with Kristen Wiig as Lana Del Rey trying to defend herself against claims that her performance on SNL was a disaster because of her atonal caterwauling and inability to move around.
    • Inverted in the monologue as Tatum (the stripper) remembers all of his customers (an allegedly religious woman named Denise, a married woman named Bridget [whom Tatum remembers as "Flithy Bridget" because of all the filthy things she would ask for], a man named Leslie [who ends up dying when Tatum uses his stripper moves to refresh his memory], and Leslie's doctor, Dr. Matthews), much to their chagrin.
    • The episode hosted by Alec Baldwin and his wife at the time Kim Basinger on February 12, 1994 will forever be remembered as the episode that had the "Canteen Boy Gets Molested" sketch (and the episode after that, hosted by Martin Lawrence, will be remembered for Martin's raunchy monologue about women's hygiene [which was so tasteless, it nearly got everyone on the show fired and is often cut in reruns and replaced with title cards explaining the gist of the monologue and why it can't be shown on TV anymore]).
    • Likewise (for a nonsexual example) for the Tim Robbins episode from season 18, which was the notorious episode in which Sinead O'Connor rips Pope John Paul II's photo and screams, "Fight the real enemy!"
  • Broken Base: Dick Ebersol's era. Some regard it as the high point of the show after the original cast; others think of it as a bastardized version of the original concept, designed to pimp Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo (and later, Martin Short, Billy Crystal, and Christopher Guest) at the expense of everyone else. And there are those who say that it may not be as great as Lorne Michaels' original cast, but it is worlds better than what Jean Doumanian turned out in her short stint as executive producer.
    • Every season after the first five years has a Broken Base (save for the seasons that were universally bad — season 6, season 11 note , and season 20).
  • Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: There is a common misconception that Steve Martin (one of SNL's most frequent hosts) was a cast member. He was on Lorne Michaels' failed ABC sketch show The New Show, but he was never an SNL cast member.
  • Creator's Pet: Not so much in the past, but these days, Lorne most definitely has his favorites. Some of these favorites include Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, and Tina Fey. There were surely some from the past, but it seems even more blatant now.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Some of Seth Meyers' jokes on Weekend Update are often met with the audience groaning over how tasteless the joke is. In fact, a lot of past Weekend Update anchors have had this happen to them (particularly Brad Hall, Dennis Miller, Norm MacDonald, and Colin Quinn)
    • In a 1995 "Weekend Update" sketch, David Spade, as part of his "Hollywood Minute" segment, said "Look, kids, a falling star! Make a wish!" as he mocked Eddie Murphy's (then-)lackluster career. This made Murphy so mad that he called SNL about it. To this day, Murphy still hasn't forgiven Spade. It should be noted that, years earlier, Murphy did a bit during "Weekend Update" on a possible return of the military draft. Concerned that he might get drafted, and deprive SNL of its token black cast member, he suggested someone else get selected. Someone he said whose very name scared him: notoriously-underused original cast member Garrett Morris, whom he pointedly noted wasn't very busy at that time. Making the David Spade joke Laser-Guided Karma, perhaps?
    • The commercials are about parents who don't want to spend money on raising children and buy them extremely inferior products. The ads reek of child abuse, though that was probably done to take the edge off the fact that Paris Hilton was hosting the episode and wasn't doing a good job of it.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Bill Hader's cat/snake hissing, which he used when he played James Carville and Stefon.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: For every "Funny Aneurysm" Moment on this show, there are at least a couple of Hilarious in Hindsight moments that make the sketch funnier years after the sketch aired. Some examples:
    • In a second season episode hosted by Eric Idle, there are two big examples of Hilarious in Hindsight in a sketch involving Idle and Dan Aykroyd as cops who dress in drag:
      • The sketch is derailed when John Belushi (also in drag) tells Idle that drag doesn't work in America. Fast forward to the 1990s and 2000s when drag comedies starring Robin Williams, Tyler Perry, and Eddie Murphy make for some of the biggest hits.
      • Throughout the sketch, Aykroyd is doing a Jack Webb impression, yet when the sketch derails Aykroyd claims that his impression sucks. Cut to 1987 when Aykroyd did a fantastic Joe Friday impression in the major motion picture adaptation of Dragnet alongside Tom Hanks.
    • The premiere had a fake commercial for a multi-bladed razor and the slogan that pointed out that consumers are so stupid that they would actually buy this. Multi-bladed razors became very real and actually would sell well in the late 1990s. To be more specific, twin-blade razors were becoming the standard, so the mock commercial was about tri-blade razors, implying that they would be a stupid idea. Nowadays two of the leading companies, Gillette and Schick, have five-bladed razors (Fusion and Hydro 5, respectively). And that doesn't count the extra "precision" blade on the Fusion!
    • A sketch on the Season 23 episode hosted by John Goodman (with musical guest Paula Cole) had a sketch where airline passengers are attacked by cobras. This sketch first aired in 1998, a scant eight years before the movie Snakes on a Plane hit the theaters.
    • In 1994 (on the Season 20 premiere), there was the "Steve Martin's Penis Beauty Cream" fake infomerical, featuring the line "Just take a small amount and rub gently on the penis for several minutes up to a half-hour. You'll notice a difference right away!" About a decade later, Maxoderm hits the market with the exact same advertising pitch.
    • On the Season 30 episode hosted by Tom Brady, there's a sketch that takes place backstage where Peyton Manning (Seth Meyers) asks Brady why he was chosen to host over Manning. The real Peyton Manning would host in Season 32 (and his brother, Eli, who was in the audience for Peyton's episode, would host five years later).
    • In a Season 29 episode hosted by Ben Affleck, he touted "Bennifer" T-shirts during the monologue, explaining that he had unfortunately ordered 50,000 of them prior to his breakup with Jennifer Lopez, and went on to offer several other Portmanteau Couple Name combos such as "Benyonce", "Mary-Kate and Ashfleck", and (in the unlikely event that Matt Damon finally came around), "Ben-Gay". Only a couple years later, Affleck would get hitched to Jennifer Garner (and is still with her as of 2012), making those "Bennifer" shirts valuable again.
    • In 1998, Alec Baldwin hosted a Season 24 episode. In the opening monologue, Jimmy Fallon appears and tells Alec that he was given a prediction about his future in which he becomes famous enough in 2011 to host SNL. Thirteen years later, Jimmy Fallon is now one of TV's most popular late-night personalities and hosts Season 37's Christmas episode.
    • In 1978, Carrie Fisher, playing Princess Leia, appears in a sketch wearing a gold bikini at the beach.
    • During the SNL Digital Short in the Gwyneth Paltrow/Cee-Lo Green episode, Andy Samberg asks Anderson Cooper if he ever "got freaky with Barbara Walters". Cooper's response is along the lines of "Are you insane?" The joke when the episode first aired was funny because Andy was drunk off his ass, but now that Anderson Cooper revealed that he was gay, it makes Andy look like an idiot.
    • "The Duh Winning" sketch features Bill Hader as Charlie Sheen and Miley Cyrus as Lindsay Lohan. One year later, it was revealed the two (Sheen and Lohan, not Hader and Cyrus) would star in Scary Movie 5.
    • One Saturday TV Funhouse sketch is about a fictional animated musical about the Titanic, featuring singing animals. The whole idea is just too stupid for someone to make one in real life, right? RIGHT?
    • On the season 36 episode hosted by Scarlett Johanssen, there was a fake commercial for MTV's reality shows that focus on young mothers. One of them was called I'm Snooki and Pregnant (with Bobby Moynihan as Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi from Jersey Shore). The fake commercial aired in November 2010. Snooki actually would be pregnant in March 2012. Whether this is Hilarious in Hindsight or a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment is up for debate.
    • During one sketch Miley Cyrus played Justin Bieber saying that he would smoke Salvia (which Miley herself had done) because it's legal. In 2012, images of Bieber smoking the illegal marijuana surfaced and when Justin Bieber hosted SNL, he appeared as a Bieber-hating member of Miley Cyrus' fan club who told Cyrus that he heard that Justin Bieber had smoked marijuana and was sorry for doing it.
      • In turn, any post-salvia incident humor on the sketch depicting Miley herself as a stoner, as she revealed in 2013 she actually is one.
    • A 2001 sketch made fun of the soundtrack for the horror film Valentine, mainly mocking some of the bands on it for being rather unknown. As some of the bands included Disturbed and Linkin Park, it's kind of amusing now as those bands went on to be incredibly popular.
    • One of Seth Meyers' celebrity impressions back before he was a Weekend Update anchor was Anderson Cooper. On the Weekend Update for the season 38 finale, guess who Seth beats up at Stefon's wedding?
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Most people who watch the show only watch it just to see one thing (be it a favorite sketch/recurring character/cast member/favorite host) and cite it as the main reason to watch the show. Weekend Update is commonly cited as the best example of this, since the simplicity of the sketch means it can be consistent even as the rest of the show wobbles.
  • Memetic Mutation: Nearly every other sketch has spawned a meme. See the Memetic Mutation page for more details.
  • Nostalgia Filter: As noted on the main page, those who grew up with the show are among the most vocal critics of its current shape. Also, because 60-minute cable reruns and video compilations have trimmed a lot of the weaker material from the older shows, it's easy to forget that even during its good seasons SNL had bad moments (from lousy hosts and musical guests to recurring characters and sketches that suffer from being underdeveloped and/or annoying though this can apply to the stuff that people actually remember or have currently seen). The DVD box sets of uncut and complete seasons of the show, in the original order and from the beginning, may be helping to undercut this; check out the reviews at
  • The Scrappy: Colin Jost, one of the current Weekend Update anchors. Unlike the other cast members, he only appears in Weekend Update and has drawn numerous criticism for being wooden and unfunny. When it was announced that the show was changing Weekend Update for the 40th season, people were thrilled...until it was revealed that they were removing Ensemble Darkhorse Cecily Strong from the desk and keeping Jost.
  • Seasonal Rot: Just like in the Nostalgia Filter entry, there are former fans who believe the show hasn't been the same since whenever the last time they saw it usually, it's Seasons 1-5 (Fall 1975 to Spring 1980), but there have been other claims of when SNL started to seasonally rot, like when a fan favorite cast member (such as Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, etc.) leaves. The transitional periods between old casts and new ones are usually low periods, with Season 6 (1980-81), the first without any original cast members, widely considered the most disastrous in the show's history. Season 20 (1994-95) is also infamous due to the departure of Phil Hartman, reports of backstage tension between cast members, and the weak ideas for sketches (most of them were about the O.J. Simpson murder trial).
    • Season 11 (when Lorne Michaels came back and tried to assemble a cast of semi-famous people to be cast members, only to almost get canned due to plummeting Nielsen ratings) from 1985-86 also counts. According to the book "Live From New York: The Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live", a lot of the staff (including Al Franken and then-future Simpsons writer George Meyer) view Season 11 as terrible because the first episode hosted by Madonna wasn't well-received, which led to plummeting ratings and reviews stating that SNL's new cast at the time wasn't funny, the writing was too weird and thin, and the show as a whole has run its course and needed to end.
    • Season 35 is an unusual example in that it wasn't seen as too bad while airing, but several years later, the writing does seem very unusual and geared towards certain cast members (usually Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig). Some other seasons are usually seen as of low quality as well, such as seasons 28 (due to Jimmy Fallon's constant cracking up and the absence of Will Ferrell), 30 (had very mediocre political sketches during the 2004 election, the Ashlee Simpson lip-synching fiasco had people asking if the show was even live anymore, and everything just seemed kinda slow and dull. The upside of season 30 was that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler did a good job on Weekend Update), 33 (but only because the Writers Guild strike caused a lot of potentially good episodes to go unwritten), season 38 (the Justin Bieber Valentine's Day Episode, too much reliance on Bill Hader and Fred Armisen), and (to some extent) season 39 (criticism for not having a more ethnically diverse cast, the sketch-writing quality is too unbalanced, pretaped sketches seem to dominate over the live ones, absence of Bill Hader and Fred Armisen, too many new cast members who aren't seasoned to be on the shownote . Basically, if a fan-favorite cast member leaves, then the show will go through what's called a "rebuilding season," which means that the show's humor quality will either be mixed to in the toilet. See "They Changed It, Now It Sucks" below.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: One of the show's many curses (the curse of not being considered an edgy sketch show, thanks to the many Dueling Shows that always try to one-up the humor the biggest offenders being Fridays, In Living Color!, and MADtv), besides the "cast members dying" curse and the Funny Aneurysm Moments it's accrued over the years.
  • Shallow Parody: Zigzagged. Some sketches (particularly the Harry Potter parodies) are fleshed-out and on-point; others are just there to serve as the backdrop for an SNL recurring character to interact with other fictional characters, to be a Deconstructive Parody, or to speak out on a certain topic.
  • Special Effects Failure: SNL has always been known for flimsy sets, cheap costumes, and obvious Stock Footage (Lorne Michaels even said on an E! special about SNL's history that the show had this problem), especially in the 1970s and 1980s episodes (not so much in the episodes of the 1990s, the 2000s, and the 20-Teens, but it does crop up occasionally). More recent seasons have occasionally added in bad Chroma Keying as well. Some sketches have used this and ended with the cheap set getting destroyed in some way.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: The near-constant changing of writers and cast members is one of the most common reasons why fans have a love/hate relationship with the show.
  • Unfortunate Implications: The decision to have Fred Armisen as Barack Obama did piss a lot of people off when it was first revealed that Lorne Michaels picked him (and turned down Jordan Peele from MADtv and Donald Glover from Communitynote ) to play Obama, as Fred Armisen wasn't black (despite that, like Obama, Fred Armisen has a mixed ethnic backgroundnote ), though Armisen has played two black celebrities before (Prince and Ice-T, though he got away with that because Prince and Ice-T are light-skinned black) and no one complained (in fact, Armisen's Prince impression has been lauded as being just like the real deal). This was later reversed when Fred Armisen was traded out for Jay Pharoah, who is black, skinny, and can do a Barack Obama impression better than Fred Armisen.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: A lot of SNL's sketches from the 1970s were drug-influenced (such as one that had an Abraham Lincoln portrait calling Richard Nixon a "dip.") and a lot of the writers and cast members at the time were high as kites. These days, the writers and cast members aren't like their 1970s counterparts (at worst, they get high from sleep deprivation in writing and planning the show; at best, some of the cast and crew members smoke weed, but only in their off-hours), but there are some crazy sketches and characters that seem like they're the product of a drug-influenced mind (Toonces, The Cat Who Can Drive a Car, Will Ferrell's impression of Harry Caray, Bill Hader's Stefonnote , just to name a few).

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