The 5 Highest And 5 Lowest Rated ‘Saturday Night Live’ Episodes This Decade

By: 12.09.13  •  15 Comments

Justin Timberlake SNL

I was looking over the historical ratings of Saturday Night Live, because I’m a curious person, and that’s what curious people do. I was wondering how SNL’s ratings were holding up this season with all the cast turnover. The answer: Not great. I mean, there’s no threat of cancellation or anything, and SNL’s ratings typically drop during non-election years, but where SNL’s ratings would typically hover around the 5.0 range (and maybe a 5.5 during election years, although the 2008 election year with Tina Fey saw some 8s and above), they’re hovering closer to a 4.0 this season. In fact, four of the lowest rated episodes of Saturday Night Live this decade have come this year while the 5 highest rated episodes all came in 2010 and 2011. That suggests that SNL, like network television itself, has been suffering an overall decrease in the ratings, though all things considered, SNL is holding up better than the rest of network television.

Anyway, I also wanted to know who has attracted the biggest ratings this decade, and while it probably won’t come as a huge surprise that Justin Timberlake is among the top five, the number one may be somewhat surprising:

1. Betty White/Jay-Z (2010)
2. Jim Carrey/The Black Keys (2011)
3. Charles Barkley/Kelly Clarkson (2010)
4. Justin Timberlake/Lady Gaga (2011)
5. Tina Fey/Justin Bieber (2010)

To be fair, the Charles Barkley episode came after a football overrun during the playoffs, so it wasn’t because Barkley is awesome at SNL (he decidedly is not).

As for the lowest, I was really expecting the Dana Carvey hosted episode to be on there, since Dana Carvey had nothing to plug at the time, and little current cultural relevancy, but he was among the higher rated episodes. These were the five lowest, four of which came from this year, including the one from three weeks ago.

1. Edward Norton/Janelle Monae (2013)
2. Josh Hutcherson/HAIM (2013)
3. Jonah Hill/The Shins (2012)
4. Bruce Willis/Katy Perry (2013)
5. Zach Galifianakis/Of Monsters and Men (2013)


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