Kit Steinkellner
September 27, 2014 6:55 am

SNL comes back tonight and Star-Lord Cute-Pants Chris Pratt is hosting. In honor of The Most Famous Televised Sketch Comedy Show In The History Of Ever’s return, here’s a round-up of 5 of the most groundbreaking moments for women on SNL.

1.) Gilda Radner becomes SNL’s first female breakout star

One of the original cast members (and actually the FIRST original cast member to be cast on the show) , Gilda instantly broke away from the pack. During her five-year stint at SNL (1975-1980), she created awesome characters like Roseanne Roseannadanna, Emily Litella, Baba Wawa, as well as spot-on impersonations of Lucille Ball and Patti Smith. In 1978, she won an Emmy for her work on SNL because of course she did.

2) Tina Fey promoted to Head Writer on SNL

In 1999, Fey became SNL’s first female head writer, and for the next seven years was responsible for one of SNL’s funniest eras.  These were the years of the Lady Dream Team featuring Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer, Rachel Dratch and Amy Poehler, and their dream-tastic male counterparts Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, Chris Kattan, Tracy Morgan, Seth Meyers, Will Forte, Darrell Hammond and Chris Parnell. SO many good people and SO many good characters during Fey’s reign: “The Lovers,” “Brian Fellow’s Safari Planet,” “Debbie Downer,” “Delicious Dish,” Jimmy Fallon being cute and singing . . . the list goes on and on. Also, men were no longer allowed to leave cups of pee around the SNL offices. Good job overthrowing the infestation of urine jars, Fey The Great and Powerful.

(Personal note: A lot of Fey’s years directly overlapped with my middle school/high school years when I stayed in on Saturday nights and watched SNL instead of going out with friends like a normal teenager. SNL helped me feel like it was cool to be a shut-in on a weekend night so thank you Tina and friends.).

3.) Tina Fey and Amy Poehler become SNL’s first all-women “Weekend Update” co-anchor team

From 2004 to 2006, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were SNL co-anchors and a choir of angels sang for two years straight. For more than 700 days, nothing bad happened ever.

4. Sinead O’Connor literally rips the Pope, gets banned

It was 1992. Sinead O’Connor was the musical guest. During O’Connor’s second song of the night, she sang an a cappella cover of Bob Marley’s “War” and when she got to to the lyrics “Fight the real enemy,” she tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II. The director did not light up the applause sign at the end of the number, host Tim Robbins did not acknowledge or thank her during the closing goodbyes and O’Connor was put on a shortlist of performers banned from SNL

5. The Internet busts SNL for its WOC problem And gets results

After Maya Rudolph left, there were no black women on SNL for six years. SIX. YEARS. What was even happening? When a show says it has its finger on the national pulse – a nation where Michelle Obama, Oprah, and Beyonce are basically our three most SUPREMELY, important cultural icons (you can argue with me. I don’t care. Those are my picks.) – and it doesn’t have a black female cast member, there’s a problem. This is a show BUILT on the backs of celebrity impersonations. To only parody these women during the one time Kerry Washington guest hosts or by sending Kenan Thompson to wardrobe to throw on a dress shows that you’ve got a problem with WOC.

The internet will RECOGNIZE and come after you. In January of this year, SNL thankfully hired LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones to write and Sasheer Zamata to perform. It was a long overdue correction of a not-forgivable oversight, but the correction was made and the ladies have killed it since.

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