This morning, the New York Times dropped Lorne Michaels’s annual “Hey, the show is coming back” interview. And it was filled with a lot of the standard stuff: People are leaving, yes, but that is just the natural order of things at the show; we don’t listen to partisan criticism. Until, at the end of the conversation, in the very last sentence, Michaels dropped a bombshell, like a patient revealing their darkest truth when grabbing the doorknob to leave therapy. While dodging rumors that a succession is already in place for someone to take over when he retires and acknowledging there will be a big 50th-anniversary show-party, he slipped in: “There won’t be as many plus-ones.” Whoa.
For those unfamiliar, in 2015, New York’s hottest club was SNL’s 40th-anniversary party. For about a year afterward, it was all any attendee was able to talk about in interviews. And seemingly for good reason — it was sort of a “greatest hits” of the last three generations of famous people. Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift played each other’s songs. Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande performed with Debbie Harry. Prince did a version of “Let’s Go Crazy” with Maya Rudolph, Haim, Martin Short, and Cuba Gooding Jr. Seth Meyers made idle chitchat with Beyoncé. MC Hammer was there! Now imagine you are Taran Killam and you have to tell freaking Cobie Smulders she can’t come this time!
For a figure known for being a bit circumspect in interviews, to release a downright hostile shot across the bow is major. The message is clear: Plus-ones, you’re on notice. You got two seasons, a little less than 50 episodes, to figure out a way to host, or you’re not coming.
Paul Thomas Anderson, you better start working on your impressions, or you’ll be home watching the kids. Joanna Newsom, you might need to suck it up and work with Jack Antonoff if you want to do a big pop crossover in time to be asked to host and be a musical guest by the end of season 49. Emma Stone’s husband, Dave McCary, you better find ways of periodically reminding Michaels that you actually worked at the show. You too, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s husband, Brad Hall. Whomever Pete Davidson will be dating then, you’re probably fine. This is to say nothing of the former cast members with partners outside the biz, like Molly Shannon and Jenny Slate, whose significant others are … painters [pause for gasps in horror]. That said, if Aidy doesn’t get to bring Conner, there will be hell to pay.