Stars: 3.5/5

In its 44th season, “Saturday Night Live” leads the airways in live, topical sketch comedy. No other sketch comedy show comes close to matching its stature, but with a new generation of cast members and a Donald Trump presidency, the season relies on publicity stunts to make up for its lacking starpower and quality.

After losing several famous cast members in 2013 and a fallback following Trump’s hosted episode in 2015, the show looked worse than ever. The show truly needs a comeback this season, and we have already seen multiple attempts to make headlines.

The Emmy Awards in September felt more like a three-hour-long “SNL” commercial than an award show, and the actor it’s only purpose was to show off Matt Damon as U.S. Suprme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and a totally-not-planned speech from controversial musical guest Kanye West. “SNL” has obviously tried to give the show as big of a kickoff as possible to gain viewers for the rest of the year.

While the show succeeded at getting its name in the news, the overall quality of its first three episodes causes worry for the rest of the year. The first two episodes of the season were questionably good at best, but the highly anticipated episode starring former cast member and head writer Seth Meyers shouldn’t have struggled as much as it did.

I waited for the Seth Meyers episode of “Saturday Night Live” for nearly a month, and when the time finally came to watch it, I got to witness my own disappointment live. What should have been a star-studded-actors, strongly written episode turned out to feel more like a run-of-the-mill addition to the series.

Part of the reason I and many other “SNL” fans were excited about Meyers hosting the show is because we all expected something we did not get − cameos from other former cast members. We didn’t even get to see actor and comedian Bill Hader play Meyers’ work husband Stefon, even after show’s excessive Meyers/Stefon promotion in the week preceding the episode.

I wish I could have been OK with seeing just Meyers alongside the current cast, but his episode seemed to highlight more than ever the new cast’s inability to carry the show. Cast members Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Cecily Strong can only do so much. My generation’s cast will always hold a closer place in my heart, but the new generation just isn’t making the cut right now.

The show takes its first break of the season this week before Jonah Hill comes back to host for the fourth time with “SNL” newcomer Maggie Rogers as the musical guest. Hill racked up some notable sketches in his past episodes, so we can only hope to find a saving grace in November’s opening show.

“SNL” will face a lot of hardships through this season if the show’s overall strength does not improve. Actor Alec Baldwin’s Trump character can only take the show so far, and if the rest of the show can’t pick up on its own, serious changes to the cast and writing crew should likely take place in the upcoming year.

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