The influences of Saturday Night Live

Apr 1, 2015

One of the longest running TV shows with continuous success is NBC's Saturday Night Live. A sketch comedy show centered around pop culture, history, and current news. With a specific cast of comedic actors acting out sketches, it gets very hard for the show to be boring. But, I was wondering about whether or not the sketches they perform have any lasting impression or influence on politics and the audience as a whole.

After doing some research, I found that in 1994, SNL put forth a sketch about school lunches with Adam Sandler called "Lunch Lady Land". The song started off with the line "This is a song about the high school experience, sung through the eyes of the person who -- more than anyone else -- puts young people on the right path. I'm not talking about the teachers. I'm not talking about the coaches. I'm not even talking about the guidance counselors. I'm talking about a person we call the lunch lady." This lovely ballad about everyone's favorite school time chef had a message to it, and people noticed it.

The message was: more than 30 million students eat school meals every day, and many of them rely on school foods for up to half of their daily calories. With this huge responsibility in the hands of schools, it cannot be taken with a grain of salt.

Shortly after, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health teamed up with the non-profit anti-hunger organization Project Bread to create the Modifying Eating and Lifestyles at School (MEALS) study, a randomized clinical trial in two urban, low-income school districts. The team set out to examine the short- and long-term effects of a professional chef and the effect of extended daily exposure to a choice architecture intervention on students' school food selection and consumption. "Choice architecture" is a term that is used to describe the different ways in which choices can be presented to consumers and the impact of that presentation on consumer decision-making.

All of this happened because Adam Sandler sang a tune about the Lunch Lady with Chris Farley prancing around in an apron behind him on Saturday Night Live.

Read and annotate the article here (using


Great post Matt! It's really

Submitted by Gabi Dodson on Wed, 2015-04-01 16:14.

Great post Matt! It's really interesting to see how one tv show can influence things so easily! For your essay, it would be very interesting to discuss more cases where SNL highly influenced peoples lives! Good work!

Wow Matt! I really liked your

Submitted by OliviaBithell on Wed, 2015-04-01 20:06.

Wow Matt! I really liked your post, I had no idea that Adam Sandler had such an impact on the public school's lunch system. It is crazy to think that a comical t.v. show could have such a large impact on society. I am very interested in what you will find out about the show, and other ways they influenced our society for the better and worse. In this case it was better, which is awesome. I can't wait to read more.

I've always agreed that

Submitted by NikkiJam1 on Tue, 2015-04-07 20:49.

I've always agreed that television has a huge influence on our society. Not only does it shape the people we become, but it influences our views on our current community. I'm interested to see where you go with this idea in the future because let's face it, television is the present and the future.

Great Topic!

Submitted by ElyseJones on Sun, 2015-04-12 14:04.

Matt, I really enjoyed hearing what you had to say about the topic and learning from the research you've done. Especially with the presidential election on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how SNL affects people's political views. Especially seeing as SNL did a skit about Hillary the day before she is set to announce that she is running for president. Great work!

Comment on Article

Submitted by Sam Swillinger on Sun, 2015-04-12 21:50.


This was a really interesting comment! I never realized that sitcoms could really have so much influence. Not only that but I am a fan of SNL. I would love to know more about how influential SNL is on our society.

Matt, this is a really

Submitted by Emalooly on Sun, 2015-04-12 23:35.

Matt, this is a really fascinating idea. I've always assumed that it's only the more serious or in your face programs on TV that really affect how we act, I hadn't considered how seemingly less serious programming could also cause us to think critically. I'm really interested to see how they do influence us, especially a program like SNL, with such a broad viewer base. I'm really interested to see what you keep discovering.

Great Work Matt!

Submitted by acorbato on Mon, 2015-04-13 00:19.

It is clear that you have found a great topic. SNL is something that many people have seen and love. The MEALS program is a great way to show how SNL has had far reaching benefits to society. One thing you might look at too be far and balanced is look at controversies of SNL. I have never been a consistent watcher are there any? Anyways, keep up the good work. See you Monday!


Submitted by michaelayers on Tue, 2015-04-14 16:38.

I thought your post was very interesting. It is without a doubt that SNL has changed television and all media as we know it. Your comments are very insightful and it's good to see a great cause come from a TV show. Great post!

Matt, this was a really

Submitted by Mollyconnor on Tue, 2015-04-14 23:00.

Matt, this was a really interesting post. It's crazy to think that something as small as a little song could really influence our society. It would be great hear about some examples from contemporary politics.

Hello! Saturday Night live

Submitted by mschmiett on Wed, 2015-04-15 19:16.

Hello! Saturday Night live just celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, having made thousands if not millions of people laugh, yet I had no idea it had such an impact on school children and their lunches! If you continue on this topic, maybe you could talk about how school lunches have changed and prices have risen, and also how school lunches have become healthier due to other media projects like documentaries. Keep it up, very intriguing!

That's fascinating. Because I

Submitted by ImNotGoodAtMaki... on Wed, 2015-04-22 15:01.

That's fascinating. Because I didn't read the article, what were the results (if any)? Also, is this SOLELY because of the song or were they going to study it anyway? I mean, I'm sure the publicity helped, but was it really what started the study?

Just some questions I have. Great post, I like it and am interested in your research!

Great Post Matt!

Submitted by benroa000 on Mon, 2015-04-27 08:50.

SNL has long been established as a strong satirical voice on everything from politics to entertainment, to apparently lunch ladies. I knew the show had some sort of impact on the world outside of entertainment, but I never would have guessed that an entire movement to reform school lunches for the better was sparked by a cross dressing Chris Farley. I'm wondering what kind of effect it has on just the political world; the cast of SNL makes fun of so many political characters that I find it is hard to take the real people seriously. Awesome job, and really cool topic!