Musical guest Kendrick Lamar, host Miles Teller and cast member Bowen Yang promote the premiere episode. Photo: Will Heath, NBC

In May, “Saturday Night Live” said goodbye to longtime cast members Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney and Pete Davidson. McKinnon and Bryant were two of the leading faces for the last 10 years, and Mooney completed his nine season run and Davidson his seven season run. In an emotional finale, the “SNL” veterans paid respects to some of their most iconic characters before departing for season 48. “All I ever wanted to do in my whole life was be on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ So I did, I loved it, I had the best decade, and then I was just like—my body was tired, and I felt like it was time,” said McKinnon about leaving her sketch comedy Saturdays behind.

More recently, even more cast shakeups have hit the sketch comedy show with the departures of Alex Moffat, Melissa Villaseñor, Aristotle Athari and Chris Redd. Moffat, known for his Eric Trump impersonation, and Villaseñor, known for her Dolly Parton character, joined the cast in 2016 and were both promoted to regular players in 2018. They both intend to work on other acting projects outside of “SNL.” Athari only served one season as a featured player, but had minimal screen time. Redd, who performed for five years, announced his departure to pursue his HBO Max special and other career opportunities. 

The loss of 8 cast members all in one season is “believed to be the biggest cast shakeup since 1985,” when almost the entirety of the cast was replaced by Lorne Michaels, according to USA Today. Any “SNL” fan is no doubt familiar with the impact of these actors, and people have been anxious to see how the show will adapt to a very different cast. Joining the cast is standup comedians Marcello Hernandez, Molly Kearney, Michael Longfellow and Devon Walker, most of whom have comedy credits with Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.

Season 48 premiered with host Miles Teller and musical guest Kendrick Lamar to middling reviews. In the cold open, Teller and cast member Andrew Dismukes pretended to critique a Monday night football game as Peyton and Eli Manning but actually critiqued the opening sketch itself, addressing these cast shakeups and troubles the show has dealt with. “Let’s see what they spent the entire summer coming up with,” they remarked. 

Other sketches included one on the app BeReal, whose popularity skyrocketed this summer, as well as a gameshow sketch called “Send Something Normal,” and a sketch making fun of Nicole Kidman’s well-known AMC commercial. According to the Los Angeles Times, “the opening was funny, self-aware and creative…then things slid downhill.” 

In what Lorne Michaels deemed a transition year, “SNL” is still adapting. Michael Che and Colin Jost remain relatively consistent on the “Weekend Update” sketch, and Kenan Thompson remains a hit even in his 20th season. Cecily Strong has been absent for the first part of the season for another project, and cast members like Heidi Gardner, Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang are still fan favorites. It is too soon to tell where the new cast members will fit in. Following Teller and Lamar, Brendan Gleeson and musical guest Willow took over the following Saturday, and Megan Thee Stallion took on double duty the weekend after.

Get the discussion going! Leave a comment or reply below.