'Saturday Night Live' is now everything 'Saturday Night Live' vowed it would never be

Saturday Night Live used to pride itself as anti-television. Now it is doing product placement, that most television of television moves.

In the book Live From New York Lorne Michaels said, “So much of what Saturday Night Live wanted to be, or I wanted it to be when it began, was cool. Which was something television wasn’t, except in a retro way. Not that there weren’t cool TV shows, but this was taking the sensibilities that were in music, stage, and the movies and bringing them into television.”

I watch a lot of staged comedy and catch music shows in Los Angeles. It is fair to say that SNL, while occasionally brilliant, is no longer taking its sensibilities from the underground. SNL has become that which it was once supposed to contrast – the mainstream.

In the book Judith Belushi said, “In John’s first interview with Lorne, one of the first things he said was, ‘My television has spit all over it.’ That’s how he felt about television.”

SNL works best when it invokes the spirit of Belushi, not the spirit of Pepsi.

Joe Donatelli
Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles

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