As Kristen Wiig departs “SNL,” what’s next for women?

"Saturday Night Live" says goodbye to a star -- and leaves late night without a queen

Topics: TV, Television, Saturday Night Live, Editor's Picks,

As Kristen Wiig departs "SNL," what's next for women?Mick Jagger and Kristen Wiig during the season finale of "Saturday Night Live"

What, you didn’t get to dance with Mick Jagger, hug Jon Hamm and be serenaded by Arcade Fire the last time you left a job? I guess you’re not Kristen Wiig.

After seven years on “SNL,” Wiig said goodbye on Saturday night’s season finale that will go down as one of the sweetest, most choked-up moments on the show since Steve Martin said goodbye to Gilda Radner on the day of her death almost exactly 23 years earlier.

Even without an official announcement, Wiig’s twirly, teary departure is enough to make even the most casual fans of the show crank up the Adele and mainline a tub of Edy’s Grand. It doesn’t matter that fellow castmates Andy Samberg and Jason Sudeikis have reportedly moved on from the show as well. They leave behind established male cast members like Seth Meyers, Fred Armisen and Bill Hader. Wiig, on the other hand, blows a gaping hole in the show’s female lineup. The 24-year-old Abby Elliott, who moves up the rung to the show’s senior lady cast member, is now its biggest female star. But she’s yet to display that versatility or command the clout that Wiig has. Kate McKinnon may yet bust out into full-blown “SNL” stardom, but she’s only been on the show for five minutes.

And so, after years of cultivating a stunning roster of formidable female talent — Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler and Wiig — the show is, for the moment anyway, back to a state of relative desolation it hasn’t seen since the ’90s, an era that reached its nadir when Janeane Garofalo bailed midseason. It’s a strange, disconnected moment for “SNL,” right as women are making grand enough strides in television and film comedy that we’ve magically attained “labia saturation.” And though Wiig will no doubt continue to dominate in movies as a writer and performer, it’s sad that she leaves behind no true heirs on a show that, especially in an election year, remains so influential.

Visibly emotional and flanked by current cast members as well as the likes of Chris Kattan, Rachel Dratch, Steve Martin and Chris Parnell, and an especially rollicking Amy Poehler, new alumna Wiig didn’t depart “SNL” alone. She took with her Gilly,  the tiny-handed Judice,  Target Lady, Suze Orman and even Tan Mom. Why were so many people red-eyed on Saturday? Because on the stage that night stood a woman with incredibly big shoes to fill – and one very small hat.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream." Follow her on Twitter: @embeedub.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 17
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    John Stanmeyer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.

    Lu Guang

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China

    Carolyn Cole/LATimes

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

    Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    “Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA

    Google Earth/NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.

    Garth Lentz

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada

    Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway

    Yann Arthus-Bertrand

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.

    Stephanie Sinclair

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.

    Mike Hedge

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million

    Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.

    Daniel Dancer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

    Peter Essick

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.

    Daniel Beltra

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico

    Ian Wylie

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Slide 13

    Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.

    R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>