Saturday Night Live just announced a huge cast change with the firing of six-season vets Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah, but it turns out that’s not the only thing that’s changing at NBC’s iconic sketch-comedy show. SNL is also getting two new head writers, Sarah Schneider, the first woman to hold the post since 2008’s Paula Pell, and Chris Kelly, a gay man. Schneider and Kelly will join Robert Klein and Bryan Tucker at the head of the writers' table for the 2016-17 season, and already critics are seeing the move as a way for SNL to appeal to millennial audiences, which have been steadily dropping over the past few years.
Ever since Seth Meyers stepped down as head writer and digital short geniuses The Lonely Island's Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone left the show, there has been a severe lack of viral content. Sure, a few special guests (Larry David) or particularly surprising hosts (Ariana Grande) have sparked some sketches to go viral, but nothing has quite reached the success of “Dick in a Box” or “I’m on a Boat.” That is, except for instant classics like “(Do It on My) Twin Bed” and “The Beygency.” So it makes sense that the writers responsible for those two sketches, and many more, are getting a major promotion.
Moving Schneider and Kelly to the positions of head writers is already proving to be a smart move. Vanity Fair reported the news as a sign that SNL was switching course away from “toxic bro humor,” and they’re not wrong. Most of Schneider and Kelly’s popular sketches have been written with or for SNL’s seemingly endless pool of female talent — most notably Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon (you might recognize McKinnon from a little movie called Ghostbusters).
Sketches from Schneider and Kelly tend to explore social issues, like “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black,” which hilariously mocked the outrage following Beyoncé’s “Formation” video.
Saturday Night Live is definitely not immune to the growing calls for diversity in media and on television. Just a few years ago, the show was forced to hold a very public casting call for a black woman, and SNL is likely headed for another diversity crisis after firing one of their few non-white cast members. Luckily, Schneider and Kelly have already proven themselves to be willing to address problems of representation. Their sketch “The Dudleys” poked fun at the constant pandering to audiences and the constant critics demanding that every group be represented in every second of media. “It’s fascinating, because for me, as a gay person, I wanna see more gay people on TV, but I also recognize that if there isn’t a gay person in a specific storyline, that’s not really an affront to me,” Kelly said in an interview with Splitsider.
With the presidential election on the horizon, politics is the name of the game, and it’s likely going to be Saturday Night Live’s main source of inspiration next season. So, it’s good to know that Kelly and Schneider already have experience creating viral political content, like this year’s insanely accurate “Bern Your Enthusiasm” sketch.
Arguably one of Kelly and Schneider’s biggest hits, “(Do It on My) Twin Bed” launched SNL’s “Nasty Gals” music video series. “(Do It on My) Twin Bed” was not only hilarious, it also appealed to younger audiences, especially college students (aka "millennials"), who are, well, used to doing it on a twin bed.
Yes, “First Got Horny 2 U” is another music video starring SNL's impressive cast of ladies, but it’s also a celebration of female sexuality, the likes of which American audiences rarely get to see. "We like to write for women and the cast of women that we currently have is incredible," Schneider said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. If having Kelly and Schneider as head writers means we get more sketches like “First Got Horny 2 U,” then count me in.
“Bar Talk” was one of the more memorable Kelly-Schneider collaborations of the season. It also proved that the duo could write for a major political candidate (Hillary Clinton) and produce an excellent cold open, which sets the mood for the entire hour.
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