Live from Salt Lake, It’s Saturday Night!
Ryan Summerlin October 1, 2013
This weekend, television history was made. It was gripping. It was epic. It was exciting, intense and groundbreaking. And it was something fans of the show had anxiously anticipated for years.
No, I am not talking about the series finale of "Breaking Bad." Although, the above description pretty-well sums that up too.
What I’m actually referring to is an even bigger TV shocker. For the first time since it became an NBC affiliate in 1995, Salt Lake City television station KSL aired a first-run episode of "Saturday Night Live," the award-winning sketch comedy show currently in its 39th season. SNL is now part of KSL’s lineup.
I have been a fan of this show since I can remember, and started watching it long before I ever understood the content. For example, as a young teenager I would often babysit on the weekends to earn money. This was back before cable was mainstream and I usually had three channels to choose from to keep me company after the kids went to bed and before their parents came home. SNL was my program of choice on those Saturday nights. I didn’t often understand the adult-level humor or political skits, but it was better than what the other two stations offered. And, at least for a brief moment in time, I thought I had learned something that would help my family while watching the show.
You see, my parents had been discussing getting my older sister a car when she turned 16. It was the dinner-table topic for months, and we all had a vested interest in the final decision. My dad, who didn’t want to spend the money. My mom, who suggested he could be the one to shuttle her from place to place and share his vehicle with her. My sister, who desperately wanted to have her own car and not rely on my parents for transportation. Myself, who mistakenly thought my sister would drive me places too. There was a massive tug of war happening between convenience and finance in our home. We all talked about it endlessly and it was obvious from my dad’s comments we were on a budget.
It was during this critical decision period I was babysitting and had watched an episode of SNL, which aired a "commercial" featuring a car made of clay. It was called the Adobe and one of its selling points was that you could wreck it and never need a body shop. You just got out and sculpted the clay back to its pre-dent form. But even better than fixing your own fender was the sticker price of just $179!
At 13, I didn’t know much about finances, but I was pretty sure my parents had $179 and I was convinced this car would be the answer to my family’s conundrum. Ecstatic, I called them after seeing it late one Saturday night, waking them from a dead sleep, screaming into the phone with excitement. It just happened they interpreted my scream as terror, and less than two minutes later my dad was at the house where I was babysitting. With a shotgun. In his underwear.
And that’s how I learned some of the commercials on SNL are actually parodies.
Despite that rather obnoxious jolt, I have remained pretty loyal to the show over the years and have even been fortunate enough to get tickets and see it performed live in New York. But of course, since calling Utah home, I have not been fortunate enough to actually see this program following the nightly news on Saturdays. That’s because until last weekend, KSL has never aired it.
According to the station, in the past, KSL chose not to carry SNL due to the station’s very successful sports programming in that time slot. Skeptics disagree, suggesting the denial was more about the show’s content, which at times can be raunchy and if nothing else, left-leaning (one of the top-10 sins in Utah). They also point to the station’s history of choosing not to air shows with content its owner, the LDS church, considers immoral. Shows like "The New Normal," "Hannibal" and "The Playboy Club."
I’m not sure whether KSL decided Utah’s Zion Curtain was best left to tend the bar, NBC thumped its chest a bit or this decision really was just about ratings. Frankly, the Why doesn’t matter as much as the end result: SNL is finally on KSL. When it should be.
Utah gets laughed at for being too prude all the time. Some of the things we do write their own comedy skits. But now, we actually get to be in on the joke, at the same time the rest of the country is.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.