This weekend is the 39th season finale of Saturday Night Live (hosted by Andy Samberg) and it has not been a good season all around. There have been a few good episodes (Drake, Louis C.K., Kerry Washington), but overall, it’s been weak, hitting lows not only in ratings, but in creativity (the Charlize Theron and Jim Parsons episodes this season were two of the worst I’ve ever seen).
It’s been a rebuilding year, but going into the 40th season of Saturday Night Live, Lorne Michaels is going to want a more solid core. With 17 members, the cast is badly bloated, and with that many people angling for screentime, few cast members have really been able to break-out. Taran Killam, Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon — and to some extent — Aidy Bryant have gained a following, but there’s no Will Ferrells or Bill Haders or even Andy Sambergs in this cast.
Chances are, Michaels is going to spend the summer weeding out some of the weaker cast members, and hopefully come back in the fall with 10-12 of the strongest cast members. Who is likely to be cut over the summer? Let’s lay odds on those most likely to be fired.
Vanessa Bayer (30-1) — With Nasim Pedrad likely leaving for her new sitcom, Mulaney, Bayer becomes the most senior female on staff, and this show desperately needs seniority, even if her Miley Cyrus impression is the most she has to offer to the show right now.
Aidy Bryant — (40-1) — Aidy is solid, and hopefully, they figure out a way to make “Dyke and Fats” a recurring sketch.
Taran Killam (100-1) — Killam is probably the strongest male cast member these days, and of the males, has the best chance to break-out. Of course, we’ve been saying that for awhile, and his screentime still isn’t quite what it should be, though his Jebediah Atkinson is the show’s best recurring character at the moment (for better or worse).
Kate McKinnon (100-1) — McKinnon has probably been the strongest, most consistent female cast member this season, even if not all of her sketches work. She’s not going anywhere.
Bobby Moynihan (20-1) — Moynihan will be finishing his sixth season, which makes him the second most senior cast member on SNL. They still need him around just so former cast members still have a friend on the cast when they host.
Nasim Pedrad (1-1) — I don’t see how Pedrad sticks around now that Mulaney has gotten an extended order of 13 episodes. She’s gone.
Jay Pharoah (40-1) — Pharaoh’s job is safe at least through 2016, when Obama steps down, although aside even from his Obama impression, he’s also one of the stronger cast members. He would actually benefit greatly from a smaller cast.
Cecily Strong (100-1) — One of the most recognizable cast members these days, Strong’s position on the staff — and “Weekend Update” — is assured.
Kenan Thompson (8-1) — The longest running cast member by a long shot (11 seasons to Moynihan’s six), at some point Thompson really does have to move on. He’s one of those guys who is mentioned as leaving every summer, but he always manages to stick around. He’s somewhat reliable, but he’s never going to break out. If he makes it back another year, only Seth Meyers and Darrell Hammond will have lasted as long as he has. I think it’s time for Kenan to step down and let the youth movement take over.
Beck Bennett (20-1) — Along with Mooney, Bennett is probably the strongest new cast member this season, and should feel comfortable about returning next season.
Colin Jost (10-1) — He’s the head writer, and he’s not had enough time to prove himself at the “Weekend Update” desk, so he’s probably safe. However, if Lorne Michaels does decide to do a thorough house cleaning, he’s definitely the guy most likely to go down, if only because many of this season’s struggles lead back to Jost, both as head writer and as a terrible co-anchor on “Update.”
John Milhiser (2-1) — Who?
Kyle Mooney (10-1) — He’s managed more than any of the other featured players besides Bennett to gain some recognition this season, but his offbeat pre-taped segments often don’t jibe with the rest of the show’s tone. He was brought in to kind of replace Andy Samberg’s Digital Shorts, and he’s not really been up to the task, as many of his sketches have just been remakes of his YouTube videos.
Mike O’Brien (15-1) — O’Brien has made a lot more contributions to the show than you might think as a writer, and he’s definitely one of the best minds on the cast, even if he’s not that well known for his sketch work.
Noël Wells (3-1) — I like her, but she’s not been given any chance to prove herself this season. She’s the Abby Elliott of 2014 and will likely be purged.
Brooks Wheelan (2-1) — He’s best known for being the one who is not John Milhiser.
Sasheer Zamata (40-1) — After bringing her in to quell the controversy over the lack of black female cast members on SNL, they’re sure as hell not going to let her go this soon.
The Five Most Likely To Be Fired: Brooks Whelan, Noël Wells, John Milhiser, Nasim Pedrad, and Kenan Thompson.