Woody Harrelson and Billie Eilish kick off season 45
Welcome, fellow Coneheads! Straight out of the box, welcome to SNL in Review! I’m looking forward to recapping this unique pillar of pop culture — an unrivaled American institution — with you this season, warts and all. The 45th season of Saturday Night Live is finally underway after a tumultuous summer which saw the exit of Leslie Jones, the hiring of the show’s first Chinese-American cast member, Bowen Yang, and the hiring, then swift firing of Shane Gillis. Lest we rehash the politics around “cancel culture,” and the controversies surrounding Gillis’ unprecedented and high profile dismissal, let’s zero in on tonight’s season premiere.
Woody Harrelson is an out-of-the-box and refreshing choice to kick off season 45. Yes, he’s appearing in two somewhat wide releases this fall (Zombieland 2: Double Tap, Midway), but he’s hardly at the peak of his powers in the zeitgeist. Put it this way: outside his appearances in obligatory assembly-line blockbusters, Harrelson’s last two starring roles (in Rob Reiner’s Shock & Awe and the LBJ biopic) grossed less than $2.6 million at the domestic box office combined.
For additional context, Harrelson first hosted SNL in 1989 during the heyday of Cheers, which featured him in his first breakout role. (He also hosted in 1992 and 2014.) At 58, he is the oldest person to host an SNL season premiere since Alec Baldwin kicked off season 37. Minus Harrelson and Baldwin, the average age for an SNL season premiere host this decade is 34. Hitting you with the facts!