The 48th season of Saturday Night Live is officially underway, and a lot has changed over at Studio 8H. Over the past few months, NBC’s sketch comedy series has said goodbye to a number of veteran cast members, from Pete Davidson to Melissa Villaseñor. SNL fans are likely still feeling some way about so many beloved stars leaving the fold. With that, some may have been shocked to see that longtime cast member Cecily Strong wasn’t included in the season’s opening credits. But don’t worry, folks, because there’s a very specific reason for the omission.
Cecily Strong has not exited Saturday Night Live but is simply handling another professional obligation. Per a source for the Chicago Sun-Times, Strong is currently in Los Angeles, where she’s taking part in a play. The actress is starring in a production of The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, the acclaimed one-woman show that debuted in 1985. In taking the gig, she follows in the footsteps of the legendary Lily Tomlin. The source also asserts that Strong will return at some point during Season 48, though a specific timetable was not given.
The 38-year-old actress joined SNL as a featured player in 2012 ahead of the show’s 38th season, and it didn’t take long for her to become a hit with audiences. During her stint on the show, she’s become known for her recurring characters, such as The Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation with at a Party. She’s also done a variety of notable impressions, ranging from Rachel Maddow and Kendall Jenner. At one point, she also co-anchored Weekend Update. Had she opted to leave the series this past summer, it would’ve been a significant loss for the long-running program.
At this point, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that this is a period of transition for Saturday Night Live. It was in May that it was reported that Pete Davidson would leave and, shortly after, Kate McKinnon was said to be exiting alongside Aidy Bryant and Paul Mooney. In September, SNL lost three more stars in Melissa Villaseñor, Alex Moffat and Aristotle Athari. And that same month, Chris Redd was confirmed to be leaving and marked his exit with a thankful message.
Series EP Lorne Michaels has been open about the changes, officially calling Season 48 a “transition year.” Despite the show having lost eight cast members, Michaels sees the changes as a good thing. This is apparently because the cast had become too large and that as a result, a number of people weren’t getting enough time to shine. Now, the series has brought in four new stars: Marcello Hernandez, Michael Longfellow, Devon Walker and Molly Kearney, the first non-binary cast member in SNL history. Michaels discussed seeing the new stars in action and specifically noted the “excitement” that comes with welcoming fresh talent.
Thankfully though, there are still plenty of vets still hanging around, including Cecily Strong. But while the Schmigadoon! star isn’t leaving just yet, one has to ponder just how much longer she might stay. This is her tenth season, after all, and she clearly has other projects on her work schedule. We’ll just have to wait and see what she plans to do long-term but, right now, we can just be glad that she’s returning this year.
Saturday Night Live returns next week with host Brendan Gleeson and musical guest Willow. The episode will air Saturday, October 8 at 13 p.m. ET as part of the 2022 TV schedule.
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