By Eva Rice Howard

In the height of the pandemic, binge-watching shows was all we could do. Now, when it’s been deemed safer to step into the world, live shows and new movies are some of the first things people want to get back to. Some new films postponed their release. Some streamed online. Some went right ahead and opened in mostly empty theatres. But even in a limited environment, performances and new releases have given everybody something new to look forward to.

When lockdown first began long long ago, Saturday Night Live was in the middle of its 45th season. It had been going great so far – John Mulaney made a joke that got investigated by the secret service, Harry Styles ripped off his pants in a funeral DJ sketch, and Eddie Murphy hosted for the first time in 35 years. But when the world went into lockdown, SNL couldn’t happen. On April 11th, Saturday Night Live at Home began, and concluded the season on May 9th. There were many sketches where zoom was the punchline, or pre recorded videos that were filmed on the couch.  The cast did their best with lots of special appearances, including Adam Sandler, Miley Cyrus, and Paul Rudd. It was reassuring to see that the show would go on indeed, and the actors’ gratitude could be seen through their screens. 

On October 3rd, the show had a glorious return in the typical live format. Chris Rock hosted, and Megan Thee Stallion was the musical guest. While there were differences to get used to – like no live audience and masks often worn – Saturday Night Live was a reassurance to see on screen, and reminded the world that everything would be alright. The season continued to delight, with a magnificent John Mulaney episode on Halloween, haunting performances by Phoebe Bridgers and Olivia Rodrigo, and Pete Davidson kissing host John Krasinski on the lips. 

Some beloved and influential modern actors appeared on the show as well. Anya Taylor-Joy, propelled to adoration by her role in The Queen’s Gambit, concluded the season with musical guest Lil Nas X. Anya’s comedy chops shone in sketches where she portrayed characters including a Greek goddess, an E.R. doctor, and Baby Spice. 

Another new movie star who got his turn on SNL is French-American prodigy Timothee Chalamet. Chalamet began as an indie film actor, starring in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar at age 17. Breaking through as the lead in Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name, Chalamet became a beloved performer and continued to star in Ladybird, Beautiful Boy, Little Women, and now Dune. In December of 2020, “Lil’ Timmy Tim” showed his comedic side as he impersonated a teenage rapper, the ever-charming Harry Styles, and a cowboy crooning about his tiny horse. 

2021 has been a great year for Chalamet. His films Dune and The French Dispatch have been released in theatres, and he’s working on more. In June of this year, it was announced that a remake of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory would be made, with Timmy in the titular role. He shared photos of himself in costume on his Instagram and Twitter, telling us that the “suspense was terrible”. It’s safe to say that the New York actor won’t be out of the spotlight any time soon. 

Young women who have seen recent media are also getting some role models. British actress Florence Pugh’s career has taken off in the recent years, and she was on Time’s list of 100 most influential people. Pugh is a feminist and a positive social media personality, especially due to her “cooking with Flo” instagram routine. Her 2021 movie is Black Widow, a Marvel film also starring Scarlett Johansson as the lead.

Aside from live shows or red carpet premieres, newly released movies have been a great source of comfort as well. Several blockbusters-to-be have postponed their release dates, including West Side Story and No Time to Die. Some franchises are releasing their movies on streaming platforms, especially Marvel. Marvel will be releasing 4 movies this year, and Disney+ has new shows from them as well. Marvel’s been getting a lot of attention recently for adding Harry Styles into their cast – spoiler alert! The British rockstar managed to keep his role under wraps as he finished his second album and hosted Saturday Night Live. 

The film and live performance industry has been a huge part of modern culture for decades. Saturday Night Live just turned 46 years old, and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. Filmmakers and writers keep thinking of creative ideas to stun and impress us. The quarantine era has hugely impacted public events and viewings, but being excited for a new movie’s release will always stay the same.