Saturday Night Live scored its biggest season premiere audience in four years and second best in 12 years, emphasising the importance of presidential election time for the NBC comedy show.
The show’s “cold open” featured Alec Baldwin in his popular role as Donald Trump, sending up the US president’s performance in last week’s debate. Jim Carrey debuted with his impersonation of Democratic opponent Joe Biden.
During a busy week for news and sports, Saturday Night Live was the most-watched entertainment show, ratings company Nielsen said.
With 8.24 million viewers, it was the second most-watched SNL episode since May 2017, with the exception being last December with the triumphant return of Eddie Murphy.
The show made a return to its studio in New York, amid reports that audience members were paid in order to get round restrictions on filming in the city.
A number of viewers shared their thoughts on Carrey’s Biden impression on Twitter, with many comparing it to his zany performance as The Mask.
However, not everyone was a fan.
“We needed ‘Saturday Night Live’ to rise to the occasion for this moment, and it didn't,” said Eric Deggans, critic for National Public Radio. “Let's hope the nation's firehose of news will slow a bit, and the show will have time to catch its breath and raise its game.”
Additional reporting by Associated Press