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 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

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>