Last night's 46th season premiere of Saturday Night Live was the most-watched season premiere of the sketch comedy show in four years. The premiere drew 7.765 million viewers, earning a 1.68 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic according to fast official Live+Same Day ratings from Nielsen. Perhaps not coincidentally, the last time SNL scored premiere ratings that high was in 2016, a month before the last presidential election in the United States. Chris Rock hosted Saturday's episode, which saw Jim Carrey debuting in the role of Vice President Joe Biden. Kate McKinnon made a brief return as the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Alec Baldwin reprised his role as President Donald J. Trump, and Megan Thee Stallion was the musical guest.
The episode included lots of content about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The writers had to walk a fine line as Trump was taken to Walter Reed Hospital on Friday night with a COVID-19 diagnosis. One such sketch was a music video about wearing a mask that name-dropped Bane.
The coronavirus was a big focus behind-the-scenes as well as SNL returned to Studio 8h for its premiere and again had a live studio audience. Audience members were tested for COVID-19 and required to wear masks. SNL requires COVID-19 tests before admission into dress rehearsals and live shows. According to the Saturday Night Live ticket site, "This is a self-administered lower nasal antigen test with results yielded before the show." There are also be temperature tests for anyone checking in at 30 Rock.
Audience members also have to answer questions ahead of admission. These include, "Are you exhibiting any symptoms related to COVID-19?" "Have you exhibited any symptoms to COVID-19 in the last 14 days?" and "Have you been in close contact with anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, or anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, within the past 14 days?"
Anyone with a temperature 100.4 or higher will not be permitted to be a part of the audience. Others in their party may also be given the same treatment. "A positive COVID-19 test for any member of your group will result in the entire group not being granted admission." That group can include up to 8 people from the purchaser's "social bubble." Despite these restrictions, tickets for the premiere sold out.
Saturday Night Live airs Saturday at 11:30 pm ET on NBC. Bill Burr will host the October 10th episode with musical guest Morgan Wallen. Issa Rae hosts the October 17th episode with musical guest Justin Bieber.