Whose Season Reigns Supreme in the Complete 2010-11 SNL Relevancy Poll?

Saturday Night Live ended its 36th season this past weekend, and as you know, Movieline tracked the progress of not just the actual live show from week to week, but also each cast member and featured player as well. We certainly weren't going to let all that data go to waste, so we tallied it all together to present now, to you, the complete 2010-11 SNL Relevancy Poll.

Below you'll find:

· Each SNL star's average Relevancy Poll score, derived from 22 weeks of rankings.

· A graph charting the general trajectory of each cast member and featured player over the course of the season, depicting where they began the year, where they ended it, and their showings at crucial milestones throughout.

· And since this is Movieline's official sign-off from our SNL coverage this season, it seemed like an appropriate time to remember each comic's signature sketch from the year past.

[Click below for the full-size image.]


With that, let's discuss the ups, downs, hits, misses, winners and also-rans of Saturday Night Live's 36th season. This time around, we'll work from lowest-ranked to highest-ranked:

snl_poll_bill_hader.jpg14. Paul Brittain -- Average Ranking: 10.273

Even though Brittain is ranked dead last in this poll, he showed some fascinating glimpses of brilliance over his first season (his "Mother's Day Card" sketch comes to mind). Unfortunately, there were just way too many shows where he would have nothing more than one line. Another shame was that his most memorable sketch of the year, "Sex Ed Vincent," never saw a sequel. Hopefully Lorne Michaels will give us all a chance to see that follow-up next season.

snl_poll_bill_hader.jpg13. Abby Elliott -- Average Ranking: 10.000

At least Brittain can take solace in the fact that this was his first season. Elliott was promoted to full-time cast member 2010-11 and promptly had a year she most likely will want to forget. Still, when she could actually get some airtime that wasn't "Person on Couch No. 5," she had some great moments.

snl_poll_bill_hader.jpg12. Vanessa Bayer -- Average Ranking: 9.591

For me, this was the biggest surprise on the list. I really expected Bayer to be higher than 12th. Bayer gets so much attention for her recurring "Miley Cyrus Show" sketches that it's easy to perceive that she had more airtime than she actually received. The truth is, without "Cyrus," she didn't have a lot going on. Nevertheless, for a featured player to have something as popular as "The Miley Cyrus Show" in her first season -- particularly the edition featuring guest host Cyrus herself as Justin Bieber -- is quite a coup. It would be shocking not to see Bayer back for a second season.

snl_poll_bill_hader.jpg11. Jay Pharoah -- Average Ranking: 9.188

It's interesting that Pharoah's best moment of the season, his parody of Unstoppable, occurred in by far the worst show of the season. If someone asked me with a gun to my head, "Will Jay Pharoah be back next season, yes or no?" My response would be, "How in the world is this a life or death question?" Then, after hearing the gun cock, I would have to say, "No." I was the unofficial leader of his fan club for the first half of the season, but, unfortunately, I'm not sure this is a good fit. I hope I'm wrong (and that I don't get shot).

snl_poll_bill_hader.jpg10. Taran Killam -- Average Ranking: 8.682

The highest-ranked rookie on the list, Killam would rank much higher if we could negate some of his dreadful early-season rankings. Killam blended himself into the cast better than any of the new players and, once Jason Sudeikis decides to leave the show, will easily take over the "everyman" role on the show. His "Les Jeunes de Paris" sketches were so bizarre, but unfortunately they never showed up on Hulu so they never got the Internet attention that they deserved.

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  • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

    Great work, Mike. This and the Scorecard have told the definitive story of SNL's season, and I'm proud to have them on the site.
    And seriously, "Don't You Go Rounin Roun" never, ever gets old.

  • busterbluth says:

    I don't mind anyone returning save Abby Elliott. She's just a black hole of nepotism and suck. Haven't seen her be funny once. If only she had the talent of her papa.

  • The Winchester says:

    Thanks for getting that Sparkling Apple Juice song stuck back in my head. I finally got it to leave last week.

  • Mike Ryan says:

    You're welcome!

  • chuck says:

    Look forward to these every Sunday/Monday, Mike (even though we generally have different takes on the show) - hope to see these again in the fall.
    Jay Pharoah' s fate seems linked to whether Fred Armisen and/or Keenan Thompson stick around. If one of those guys leaves, he's probably got a good shot at returning. If they both stay, he's toast.
    SNL's big problem is they've got a lot of interesting players on the bench (Moynihan, Pedrad, Brittain and - I like her when they give her something to do - Abby Elliot) . . . but their don't seem to be any stars waiting in the wings. Remember when Hader, Sudekis and Samberg started? They made an impression super-quick. So did Wiig. No one's done that since, and as those four start to gray, that should be a big concern.
    Also, I totally agree that Seth Myers needs a co-host. When three or four shows do the "fake news" thing all week long, Weekend Update needs a strong personality like Tina Fey or Dennis Miller or Norm to give it some life.

  • Nerd says:

    I've heard a bunch of people say that Brittain, Killam, or Pharaoh should be leaving next year. Everyone has their favorite (Brittain is by far the best of those 3, imo). Everyone has the guy they can't stand. There is also a general consensus that Abby Elliot is not so great. But nobody ever talks about Nasim Pedrad. That girl deserves a huge amount of credit for an outstanding season. She's easily the strongest and most consistent female cast member, imo, as I didn't care for Wiig's overtop/one-note characters recently at all.
    Mike, I remember you saying at the beginning of the season that you couldn't believe Elliot was bumped up to full cast instead of Pedrad. I didn't agree with you at the time but I certainly do now. I just hope Lorne feels the same way. In a less than stellar season for the show in general, Nasim stood out in nearly every little supporting role she had. Her leading roles were even better, especially Bedelia, Kickspit, Helen Mirren's Tits, and Weekend Update (Ahmadinejad's Wife). Kim Kardashian is the only character I find super annoying, but I suppose that is the whole point.
    If Seth Myers is leaving this year than I think Pedrad is the best option for Weekend Update. She has played a slew of reporters already in non-Update sketches, so we know she can pull off a news anchor very well. It would probably be best if she did it with someone else, although Im not sure who? Sudeikis would be a good fit but I doubt that will happen. Brittain is another good but unlikely choice, maybe in 2-3 years. The best scenario would be to keep Myers around for at least another year and let Nasim co-anchor, like Amy did, then she would be ready to take over by herself when he leaves. (I had actually written this for the other SNL article, before you suggested Myers get a co-anchor, I swear)
    For some reason putting her at the news desk just seems like a move SNL would/should make right now. Although, it would be unheard of to have someone go from featured player straight to Update, but it would make up for the casting snub at the beginning of the season. I mean, if you add up the airtime, leading roles, or big laughs, any way you slice it Nasim was much more of a full cast member this season than Abby was or will ever be.

  • Geoff says:

    First off, a huge thank you for taking the time to do these recaps and relevancy polls all season! I look forward to them every week. Sometimes I agree with you, sometimes I think you're crazy, but I always enjoy your reviewing style. I hope you keep it up next season!
    As for the cast, I fear the most for Paul, Abby and Jay. I hope Paul sticks around - I see him as the successor to Will Forte and hope he can break through. Jay I've always found overrated. A good impressionist, but just not that funny.
    As for Abby, I think this was her weakest season of her three years with the show, sadly. Looking to the past, I think Casey Wilson, Michaela Watkins, and Jenny Slate all had stronger seasons than Abby had this year, and they were all let go. I fear her promotion to the repertory cast might still not save her for another year.
    Taran was definitely the strongest of the new cast, and I hope he sticks around for a long time. While Paul excels at creepy-weird, Taran's best at offbeat and zany-weird, which I personally really appreciate.
    Overall, Vanessa's probably my least favourite cast member. I want to like her, but everything she does comes off like a very amateur improv show. She stares straight at the camera/audience and shouts her lines and nods her head. She really needs to tone it down and show a bit more range.
    As for the rest, I wouldn't be surprised to see Fred retire - it's just his time, I think. I'd be happy to see Seth stay with WU for a few more years, and I don't really think he needs a cohost. Nasim definitely deserves a promotion to main cast. Otherwise, I'd be perfectly happy for season 37 to keep the cast just as it is now.

  • Mike Ryan says:

    Thanks! Always appreciate the support!

  • Mike Ryan says:

    Pedrad on "Update" is very interesting. Actually, I'm upset I didn't think of that. I mean, look, Elliott had put in two years as a featured player -- she had to be bumped up or let go. Now Pedrad's in the same spot. She will definitely be a full time cast member next season, it's not like Lorne has a wealth of female talent.
    And I agree with you, Seth should really consider weening her as a co-anchor. I mean, think about it: We haven't has an all out change at the Update desk since Colin Quinn was replaced by Fallon and Fey. Colin Quin!

  • Mike Ryan says:

    First of all, thank you. It's fun to disagree about TV!
    Second, on Abby Elliott... yeah, her promotion doesn't mean *that* much. Finesse Mitchell was promoted to full time cast member along with Kenan and was gone the very next season. I hope that doesn't happen, but, I agree what you said about Slate, Watkins and Wilson. Actually, I still can't believe that Wilson was let go. I really thought she was building on something.

  • Fabian says:

    I happen to really enjoy Abby Elliott. The fact that Jay Pharoah is somehow higher on the poll than her is ridiculous. He was absent for almost every show. Anyway, I don't think she had that bad of a year. She had the Meryl Streep thing, the Khloe Kardashian thing, the Diedra Wurtz thing, the Rosie Pope thing, and a ton of other impressions as well as supporting roles. And it wouldn't make sense for her to be let go since Kristen Wiig is preparing to exit soon anyway.
    I think Abby would be a great fit for Weekend Update actually. I could see her and Seth having some really great chemistry. Nasim seems too straight...Seth already is the straight man, he needs someone who can be goofy. Anyway, I can't wait to see her next year.
    P.S. Paul Brittain and Jay Pharoah should be let go.

  • Stephen says:

    Jay Pharoah should be either given Obama or let go. Armisen's Obama impersonation has always been subpar and Pharoah does an amazing Obama, but Pharoah doesn't seem to be able to do much beyond impressions.

  • Mims says:

    @Geoff - I agree about Vanessa Bayer. My two favourite Bayer appearances were the two where she pulled it back a little: her appearance with Amisen on WU where they played the friends of Gaddafi, and her line reading in the Jesse Eisenberg sketch where he and Samberg pretend to have shrunk their penises.

  • The Winchester says:

    Even though it was only one line, my favorite Bayer delivery this season was in the "Cribs" parody, where she was in front of a crib and said "Here it is."
    So simple, and yet I couldn't stop laughing.

  • Fabian says:

    I don't get why so many people dislike Abby. I think she's funny. Whenever she does something I get a kick out of it.

  • lik says:

    Its between Vanessa and Abby for matronly female roles, and I think Vanessa does it better.

  • Avery says:

    Any chance at having SNL reviews and relevancy polls again for season 37? I miss reading them.

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