Friday, September 12, 2014

Colin Jost, Cecily Strong, and the Weekend Update Desk

This week, Saturday Night Live announced that Michael Che, currently a correspondent for The Daily Show, would be replacing cast member Cecily Strong and joining head-writer Colin Jost at the Weekend Update anchor desk. This comes just half a year after Jost took Seth Meyers' seat at the desk. I think that Lorne Michaels and the show's other creative staff made a serious misstep in this decision.

The history of the Weekend Update segment in the 21st century is dominated by names that went on to achieve even greater success elsewhere. Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Seth Meyers have all gone on to anchor their own shows: Poehler and Fey found second lives on the NBC sitcoms Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock, respectively, and Fallon and Meyers occupy back-to-back time-slots in the network's late-night schedule. However, when Meyers announced his plans to depart at Christmas 2013 posed a unique problem for the show, with no truly strong contenders in the cast available to take his place. Lorne Michaels decided to pair Meyers with Cecily Strong for the first half of the show's 39th season last fall:

Meyers and Strong

After strong reviews of the pair, hopes were high when Jost, the show's head-writer and Meyers' best friend, replaced the male half of the pair. However, Jost gave a less than memorable performance in his first couple of shows, and although he began to improve by the end of the season, he had already lost the trust of much of the SNL audience. It was clear that the show was going to make changes at the desk going into the 40th season. However, this week's announcement seems like a step in the wrong direction to myself and many other fans. 

Michael Che's work on The Daily Show has admittedly been strong. His correspondent segments often dealt with race and the experience of being a modern black American in interesting ways. 

However, Lorne Michaels' decision to go with Jost instead of Strong shows a bit of bias towards the longer-tenured writer, who may have payed his dues on the show more. That's all well and good, but I     believe that the stronger performer should have won out. Many fans are speculating that the decision was based on giving Cecily Strong more time to write and perform sketches and characters. I hope that that's the case. 

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