Saturday Night Live Creator Lorne Michaels Talks About Eight Cast Members Leaving And Why It’s A Good Thing

Chris Redd, Kate McKinnon, and Aidy Bryant on Saturday Night Live
(Image credit: NBC)

Saturday Night Live is in the middle of a transition, as several key players have left the show, with new cast members having been added since. Between Seasons 47 and 48, the late-night institution has seen eight cast members move on for varied reasons. Now, after a summer of notable departures, SNL creator Lorne Michaels has opened up about those exits and why they're collectively a good thing.

As fan-favorites like Pete Davidson and Kate McKinnon said farewell during the Season 47 finale, SNL experienced more notable exits, including those of Melissa Villaseñor and Alex Moffat. Recently, five-year series vet Chris Redd marked his departure with a sweet message to the fans. While this may all be overwhelming for viewers, Lorne Michaels isn't quite as worried, as he previously about Saturday Night Live cast changes were coming. The EP revealed to NYT that losing cast members actually helps the show's survival:

Yes, but we were also at 23 or 24. We got to a point where we had a lot of people, and people weren’t getting enough playing time. The way the series has survived is by that level of renewal. The price of success is that people go off and do other things; their primary obligation is to their talent and to keep pushing that. And there’s something so much better about the show when all that matters is the show. There’s a time to say goodbye and there’s a natural time for it, but the natural time just got interfered with by the pandemic.

It appears that Lorne Michaels knew that certain cast members were ready to go before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The ordeal seemed to prevent these exits from happening sooner. Given its a television institution and has to keep things fresh, SNL has to keep revamping the cast every few years to keep the machine going. And no need to worry about the stars who've left, as the likes of Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson, and Chris Redd have translated their time with the show into fruitful projects outside of the show.

Having key players leave would be hard for any show, but SNL is used to shifting landscapes. Those openings allowed Lorne Michaels to add four new featured players to an already confirmed SNL Season 48 cast. With that, the series creator spoke about what the new members will add to the long-running series:

I think all four are fresh. They bring things we don’t have and they’re complementary to the people we already have. In people like Kate and Aidy, we had superstars, and it’s only because you got to know them over the years, and then they grew in stature. The new people could last for years. They’re not load-bearing walls. They’re not yet what they’re going to be, but at least half of the fun of watching the show is watching people that are beginning and discovering them.

Being a featured player can be the gateway to comedy stardom as evidenced by viewers connecting with alums like Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant. And if the fresh players are allowed to grow, they can obtain the same level of success. As Lorne Michaels pointed out though, it’s up to the audience reception when it comes to their progression. We'll see how they pan out and whether they can help the show's progression.

Along with the fresh faces -- including Devon Walker and Molly Kearney -- joining the 2022-23 season, beloved staples like Kenan Thompson and Bowen Yang are still on the show. Fans are also in store for stellar hosts and musical guests for Season 48, including Megan the Stallion and Brendan Gleeson. The latest season of Saturday Night Live will kick off on October 1 with Top Gun: Maverick’s Miles Teller as host and Kendrick Lamar as musical guest. It will premiere on NBC at 11:30 pm EST as part of the 2022 TV schedule. In the meantime, you can stream past episodes of the show using a Peacock Premium subscription.

Adreon Patterson
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A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).