The lost 'SNL' generation

Was Lorne Michaels' love of celebrity guests worth it? PLUS: Gunn and Safran burn down the DCEU, Cody returns in new 'Bad Batch' trailer, Matt Lucas leaves 'Great British Bake Off.'

The lost 'SNL' generation
Mikey Day and Heidi Gardner on Saturday Night Live. / Popculturology illustration/NBC

You can break the cast of Saturday Night Live into three distinct groups.

The old guard, which is basically just Kenan Thompson and Cecily Strong at this point. (Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant were part of this group until they left after last season.)

Then you have the castmembers who have been on the show for no more than five seasons, which would include Ego Nwodim, Chloe Fineman, Andrew Dismukes, Punkie Johnson, James Austin Johnson, Sarah Sherman and the three castmembers that are in their freshman season.

Then there’s the group in the middle. Mikey Day and Heidi Gardner.

These two are the final survivors of SNL’s lost generation — people who joined SNL during a time when Lorne Michaels was preoccupied with cramming as many celebrity cameos as possible into the show.

If you’ve followed me on Twitter over the past five to seven years, especially on Saturdays for about 90 minutes beginning at 11:35 p.m., you most likely know my thoughts on how SNL lost its way during the Trump years.

For parts of five seasons, SNL became a showcase for celebrities portraying political figures: Robert De Niro as Robert Mueller, Matt Damon as Brett Kavanaugh, Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer, Ben Stiller as Michael Cohen, James Corden as Boris Johnson. And the most dominant of all these portrayals, Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump.

The show’s celebrity stunt-casting juiced SNL’s ratings, and turned the weekly cold open into a guessing game of which famous person would show up.

All of this at the expense of the actual cast of SNL.