Saturday Night Live has always channeled its sharpest political humor leading up to each Presidential election – and once the ballots have been cast, the focus usually returns to less barbed sketches outside of Weekend Update, treating some politicos and the POTUS like recurring characters. But there’s little customary about the show’s continued laser-like focus on all things related to the Trump administration long after November came and went.
One need only look at Melissa McCarthy’s take-no-prisoners impression of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to see the show’s continued skewering of our current dystopic political landscape — and witness how her fierce take on the White House press agent has been hailed as an instant classic caricature. Even in the era of Peak TV, streaming stations and asynchronous consumption of content, SNL still exerts a powerful, almost gravitational pull in the pop culture landscape when it comes to parodying both those in power and the smaller players on the political periphery.
In lieu of McCarthy’s gum-gobbling, podium-thrusting triumph, we’re looking back at 20 of the more notable political figures (presented in alphabetical order) that the show has sharply portrayed over the decades. Some merely suffered flesh wounds; others were practically skewered on a spit. But all of these impressions made a lasting impact, and help define the history not only of SNL but the country itself over the past five decades.