Has SNL Shaped Politics?

By Evin Santana, Staff Writer

Although many of the sketches performed on Saturday Night Live are comedic, some viewers believe that the politically-focused skits influence how people perceive candidates and elections altogether.

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Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin pose as their respective candidates. (Photo by SNL and caption by Erin Neil.)

Saturday Night Live has been on the air since 1975, and every season gives way to skits that poke fun of and satirize politics. SNL has helped shape public perception of presidential candidates starting with Chevy Chase’s portrayal of Richard Nixon. Throughout its forty plus years, many actors have played notable political figures such as Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin and Jay Pharoah’s Barack Obama, creating long lasting legacies which are remembered for generations to come.

In the 2016 presidential season on Saturday Night Live, the first four episodes of the season have started with a cold open starring Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton and Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump. Each presidential debate has been mocked by the show which also declares a winner that typically aligns with the opinion of the masses.

While SNL is generally popular amongst even those the show makes fun of, this is not the case with President-elect Donald Trump. On October 15, 2016, he tweeted that SNL should be canceled, saying, “Watched Saturday Night Live hit job on me. Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!”

Trump was especially upset after a skit that reenacted the second presidential debate. He believes that SNL portrayed him as a “mean and nasty” person.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, finds the skits hilarious and entertaining. Sometimes Kate McKinnon’s performance of her made her second guess herself. Clinton told “PEOPLE Magazine” that McKinnon’s “really dramatic impersonation of me does make me think, ‘Oh my gosh, did I roll my eyes? Lift my eyebrows?’”

SNL’s bias towards the Clinton Campaign may not have affected the outcome of the election, but it did help cement people’s opinions on the candidates and provided comic relief from an otherwise contentious election.

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