“Saturday Night Live” premieres on September 27, marking the beginning of its 40th season. Every September, diehard (and fair weather) fans get all verklempt over casting shakeups, host selections and weekend update controversies, because they’re still getting over ancient history — yes, we get it, the show was better when Kristen Wiig was on the show. But looking ahead in a more positive direction, “SNL”‘s transition into middle age life is going to be far from mellow. With its premiere just one day away, here are a few things you can expect to see on the first episode and new season.
1. Losing Unfamiliar Faces
Moral-sharing Brooks Wheelan, Zooey-parodying Noël Wells and that other guy John Milhiser will no longer be cast members. These three struggled to get screen time, and unfortunately were unmemorable when they were on screen. Lorne Michaels wasn’t shy about sharing the fact that he overcast to compensate for the departures of Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis. The cast of Season 39, comprised of an unprecedented 17 members, had to be cut down and the careers of these three comedians were collateral damage. But don’t worry too much about them — SNL is a great resume-builder. Meanwhile, Mike O’Brien will also be leaving the screen, but will be back in the writers room. O’Brien’s off-beat eccentricities made him the alternative fan-favorite to Taran Killam’s highfaluting star power — he’s an acquired taste, one that is perhaps better suited behind the scenes.
2. Kim Kardashian, Arianna Huffington and Heshy Have Left the Building
One of the more disappointing cast changes is the exit of Nasim Pedrad, the energetic sparkplug whose nasal impression of Kim Kardashian and many more characters made her one of SNL’s top players in recent seasons. She’s moving on to star in FOX’s new sitcom “Mulaney.” Watch one last Nasim impression here.
3. Underage Comedy
With all of these exits comes a few new entrances to Studio 8H. Lorne Michaels has hired 20-year-old college dropout Pete Davidson — though he’s not old enough to legally drink, Davidson has been doing comedy since he was 16 years old and has appeared on “Wild ‘N Out,” MTV2’s “Guy Code,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Hopefully Davidson’s presence will breathe some life into the show, and we hope to see some light hazing from the more seasoned cast members upon his first appearance. Because that’s always fun.
4. Weekend Update Shakeup
Weekend Update seems to be in never-ending transition: When Seth Meyers left “SNL” (along with his sense of humor…have you watched his show yet?), he abandoned Weekend Update and left it in the care of an unstable relationship. Cecily Strong and Colin Jost, while individually hilarious, simply did not mesh in this context: Jost, who serves as co-head-writer, will get some more time behind the revered desk, while Strong will return to her roots in sketch comedy. So, where does that leave Update? With two new milestones. Michael Che will join Jost behind the desk, which will make them the first all-male Weekend Update team in the show’s history, and Che will also be the first black anchor in the show’s history. Swapping one form of diversity for another seems to be SNL’s new forte.
5. Chris Pratt’s Abs and Ariana Grande’s Ponytail
Chris Pratt — who has transitioned seamlessly from his adorkable character on “Parks and Recreation” to hunky leading man in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “The Lego Movie” and the upcoming “Jurassic World” — will be this season’s first host. We would venture a guess that his appearance on SNL means viewers will see some kind of superhero spandex suit on Bobby Moynihan. We also hope this means his “Parks & Rec” co-star, Amy Poehler, will be making a quick cameo just to help Chris out a bit. Joining Pratt as musical guest is Ariana Grande — this summer’s breakout pop star, famous for her vibrato and perky hairstyle. Sarah Silverman is set to host the second show, while Bill Hader will be returning to his stomping grounds to host in October.
6. Darrell Hammond is Back
Speaking of stomping grounds, it was recently announced that Darrell Hammond will be returning to Saturday Night Live to replace legendary announcer Don Pardo, who sadly died in August. Hammond told USA Today that “he was a lovely person. When he passed, they wanted me; it felt right for me to be the one to replace him. It’s been a very improbable life; I didn’t expect something like this, but it feels real good.”
Saturday Night Live premieres on NBC at 11:30 PM on September 27.