Saturday Night Live (season 42)

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Saturday Night Live (season 42)
SNL S41 Title Card.jpg
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes21
Original networkNBC
Original releaseOctober 1, 2016 –
May 20, 2017
Season chronology
← Previous
season 41
Next →
season 43
List of Saturday Night Live episodes

The forty-second season of the NBC comedy series Saturday Night Live premiered on October 1, 2016, during the 2016–2017 television season, with host Margot Robbie and musical guest The Weeknd,[1] and concluded on May 20, 2017, with host Dwayne Johnson and musical guest Katy Perry.[2] The season removed two commercial breaks per episode in order to increase programming time.[3] Episode 18 on April 15, 2017, was the first episode ever to be broadcast live in all four time zones within the contiguous United States. Until this episode, the show aired live only in the Eastern and Central time zones, and was tape-delayed in the Mountain and Pacific time zones.[4]


Prior to the start of the season, Taran Killam, Jay Pharoah, and Jon Rudnitsky were released from the cast.[5][6] Killam, despite having signed a seven-year contract that would have taken him to the end of this season, was dropped from the cast due in part to issues concerning his work directing the film Killing Gunther, which would have limited his time on the show.[7]

The show added three new featured players: SNL staff writer Mikey Day, Chicago improviser Alex Moffat and stand-up comedian and impressionist Melissa Villaseñor.[8][9] Stand-up comedian Chris Redd was incorrectly reported to also be a featured player that year,[10] but the rumors were later found out to be false. Redd, however, joined the show as a featured player during the next season.[11]

Featured players Michael Che, Pete Davidson, and Leslie Jones were all upgraded to repertory status.[12]

Though not a member of the cast, it was announced on September 28, 2016, that Alec Baldwin signed through season 42 to take over impersonating Donald Trump from Darrell Hammond, who continues on as the show's announcer.[13]

This season was also the final one for Bobby Moynihan, Vanessa Bayer and Sasheer Zamata.[14]

During this season, Dick Ebersol-era cast member Tony Rosato died at the age of 62 from a heart attack. Rosato is now the second SNL cast member to have never worked under Lorne Michaels to die (joining Jean Doumanian cast member Charles Rocket, who committed suicide in 2005) and the first Dick Ebersol cast member to die.

Cast roster[edit]

bold denotes "Weekend Update" anchor


Prior to the start of the season, short film director Matt Villines (of the directing duo Matt & Oz) died of cancer.[15]


In August 2016, writing duo Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider were promoted to co-head writers.[16] In addition, eight new writers were hired for the upcoming season: Kristen Bartlett, Zack Bornstein, Joanna Bradley, Anna Drezen, Julio Torres, Nick Kocher, Brian McElhaney, and Drew Michael.[17][18] After tweeting a controversial joke about Barron Trump, writer Katie Rich was suspended indefinitely.[19] In January 2017, writer Kent Sublette was elevated to head writer bringing the head writing team to four.[20]


No. in
HostMusical guestOriginal air dateRatings/
8091Margot RobbieThe WeekndOctober 1, 2016 (2016-10-01)5.8/15[22]

8102Lin-Manuel MirandaTwenty One PilotsOctober 8, 2016 (2016-10-08)5.2/13[23]

8113Emily BluntBruno MarsOctober 15, 2016 (2016-10-15)5.0/12[24]

  • Bruno Mars performs "24K Magic" and "Chunky" and appears in the "Drive-Thru Window" sketch.
  • Alec Baldwin appears as Donald Trump in both the cold open and the pre-recorded "Melanianade" sketch.
8124Tom Hanks Lady GagaOctober 22, 2016 (2016-10-22)6.1/15[25]

8135Benedict CumberbatchSolangeNovember 5, 2016 (2016-11-05)5.8/14[26]

8146Dave Chappelle A Tribe Called QuestNovember 12, 2016 (2016-11-12)6.2/16[28]

8157Kristen WiigThe xxNovember 19, 2016 (2016-11-19)4.7/12[29]

8168Emma StoneShawn MendesDecember 3, 2016 (2016-12-03)4.4/11[30]

8179John CenaMaren MorrisDecember 10, 2016 (2016-12-10)4.8/12[31]

81810Casey AffleckChance the RapperDecember 17, 2016 (2016-12-17)4.9/12[32]

81911Felicity JonesSturgill SimpsonJanuary 14, 2017 (2017-01-14)4.3/11[33]

  • Sturgill Simpson performs "Keep It Between the Lines" and "Call to Arms".
  • Alec Baldwin appears as Donald Trump in the cold open.
  • Tina Fey appears in the opening monologue.
  • A tribute to former cast member Tony Rosato, who died on January 10, is shown before the goodnights.
82012Aziz AnsariBig SeanJanuary 21, 2017 (2017-01-21)5.1/13[34]

82113Kristen StewartAlessia CaraFebruary 4, 2017 (2017-02-04)5.0/13[35]

82214Alec BaldwinEd SheeranFebruary 11, 2017 (2017-02-11)7.2/18[36]

82315Octavia SpencerFather John MistyMarch 4, 2017 (2017-03-04)5.2/14[37]

  • Father John Misty performs "Total Entertainment Forever" and "Pure Comedy."
82416Scarlett JohanssonLordeMarch 11, 2017 (2017-03-11)4.8/13[38]

82517Louis C.K.The ChainsmokersApril 8, 2017 (2017-04-08)4.5/12[39]

82618Jimmy FallonHarry StylesApril 15, 2017 (2017-04-15)7.88 M avg. US viewers[41]

82719Chris PineLCD SoundsystemMay 6, 2017 (2017-05-06)6.919 M avg. US viewers[42]

82820Melissa McCarthyHAIMMay 13, 2017 (2017-05-13)10.337 M avg. US viewers[43]

82921Dwayne Johnson Katy PerryMay 20, 2017 (2017-05-20)8.272 M avg. US viewers[44]


TitleOriginal air dateRatings/Share
(Adults 18-49)
"Weekend Update at the RNC[45]"July 20, 2016 (2016-07-20)N/A
Colin Jost and Michael Che host a special edition of Weekend Update from the 2016 Republican National Convention live on MSNBC. Kate McKinnon appears as Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
"Weekend Update at the DNC[46]"July 27, 2016 (2016-07-27)N/A
Colin Jost and Michael Che host a special edition of Weekend Update from the 2016 Democratic National Convention live on MSNBC.
"The 2016 SNL Election Special[47]"November 7, 2016 (2016-11-07)2.1/7[48]
Recent political sketches involving the 2016 US presidential election, hosted by Tom Brokaw.
"SNL Thanksgiving Special[49]"November 23, 2016 (2016-11-23)1.6/5[50]
Thanksgiving-themed comedy from the Saturday Night Live crew is presented.
"SNL Christmas[51]"December 14, 2016 (2016-12-14)1.6/5[52]
Holiday-themed comedy from Saturday Night Live is presented.

Publicity and controversy[edit]

Donald Trump, who became President of the United States during the season, was vocal in his criticism of the show.

The forty-second season of SNL had a larger-than-usual ratings bump, partially due to sketches surrounding the 2016 presidential election and later the presidency of Donald Trump. According to Forbes writer Madeline Berg, the program "had its best season in 24 years, with an average of 11.3 million viewers in live-plus-seven-day ratings, which marks an increase of 26% from [the previous season]."[53] The Dave Chappelle/A Tribe Called Quest episode saw the highest ratings for the show since Donald Trump's hosting the previous season, and highest in the 18-49 rating demographic since December 2013.[28] The show received its best ratings for an October broadcast in eight years with the Tom Hanks/Lady Gaga episode,[25] while the Alec Baldwin/Ed Sheeran episode in February received the best overall ratings for the season thus far, posting its highest metered-market household rating in six years.[13]

Republican candidate Donald Trump — who hosted SNL the previous season and eventually secured the presidency in November — was unhappy with his portrayal on the show by recurring guest Alec Baldwin. On multiple occasions, both before and after winning the election, Trump used Twitter to publicize his thoughts on the impersonation, as well as the show: "Watched Saturday Night Live hit job on me. Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks," he tweeted the morning after the Emily Blunt/Bruno Mars episode on October 16, 2016.[54] "It is a totally one-sided, biased show —nothing funny at all. Equal time for us?", he posted on November 20 after the Kristen Wiig/The xx episode, suggesting the show follow the equal-time rule, despite the presidential race being over.[55] His criticism continued preceding his inauguration: he dubbed it "unwatchable" on December 4,[56] and tweeted "Saturday Night Live is the worst of NBC. Not funny, cast is terrible, always a complete hit job. Really bad television!" after the Felicity Jones/Sturgill Simpson episode on January 15, 2017.[57]


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