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Why Saturday Night Live Is One of the Longest Running Shows On TV

by Chris Dalton | 03.19.14

Saturday Night Live is one of America’s most beloved television shows, and also one of it’s longest lasting. It’s been continuously on air since 1975, and transcends generations because it is in the moment and always topical.

There’s several key aspects that have led to SNL’s resounding, sustained success.

Always topical and in the moment

One of the ways SNL has stayed culturally relevant is by always staying in the moment and building skits around current events and new topics.  The material is continually refreshed instead of static, and the audience takes notice – it’s one of the few shows left that people can talk about around the water cooler on Monday.


Even though people are spread across the country watching the show, there’s this shared feeling of connectivity as Saturday Night Live is playing. The live aspect means that everyone is watching the same thing as you simultaneously – creating a shared “involvement” that enhances the viewer experience. SNL acts as a place to have a collective experience. This has been strengthened with social media, as the experience has become easier to share with up to the minute Tweets and commentary.

Live, unscripted authenticity

The great appeal that brings the show together is without a doubt the live, unedited aspect. Although there are loose scripts followed for skits, there is a constant possibility for an unexpected “live” moment – an unrehearsed tidbit that makes the show’s personalities shine through. Whether it’s a cast member busting out laughing because they can’t contain themselves, or the musical guest doing something wild and controversial, these live moments are what make SNL human and exciting. It’s the sense that anything can happen.

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