Saturday Night Live isn’t a show that’s necessarily known for an overabundance of Black representation over the years. Yes, famous names like Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Leslie Jones, Maya Rudolph, Tracy Morgan, Kenan Thompson and Garrett Morris have been essential cast members. But, in terms of Black hosts and musical guests, there are not always a lot of choices during the year. However, Season 48, which premiered Oct.1, has already featured Megan Thee Stallion and Dave Chappelle as hosts, along with musical guests Kendrick Lamar, Willow and Black Star, making it a groundbreaking year for the long-running sketch comedy series. And as if that wasn’t enough Black excellence, Nope star Keke Palmer and Grammy-winner SZA were announced as the host and musical guest for the Dec. 3 episode.
I can’t remember a time when SNL has been this Black only seven episodes into the season. From Meg to Willow to Keke and SZA, it’s also amazing to see so many awesome Black women from so many different entertainment spaces represented. The show has occasionally gotten a reputation for being out of touch with Black audiences. There’s always been a disconnect, which has left a hole for series like In Living Color and A Black Lady Sketch Show.
Though its popularity rises and falls every season, Saturday Night Live is still among the most influential shows on television. There are a lot of viewers who did not see Nope who will be introduced to Palmer through her appearance on SNL. And since I already know that she’s spectacular in every project she does, I have no doubt that she’ll kill it.
Of course, there is one major question I can’t shake. Will the season continue on its same trajectory when it returns from its winter hiatus? Will we get this same level of representation for the duration of the season or did SNL front-load the show with all the Black hosts, so we wouldn’t notice how few there are in the second half? Looking at upcoming 2023 releases, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Creed III and Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves offer opportunities for return visits from Jonathan Majors and Regé-Jean Page as well as a debut from Michael B. Jordan.
Saturday Night Live returns with new episodes featuring host Keke Palmer and musical guest SZA on Dec. 3 at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC.