Saturday Night Live did a lot more than “otay” in the ratings with former cast member Eddie Murphy’s first hosting turn in 35 years.
Murphy, with musical guest Lizzo, drew 9.9 million total viewers and a 2.5 demo rating, surging 68 and 98 percent from this season’s averages to mark the sketch series’ best numbers since May 13, 2017 (when Melissa McCarthy hosted with musical guest HAIM).
Additionally, that 2.5 ties The Masked Singer’s season opener for the best demo number for any entertainment telecast this TV season — and it also makes the Dec. 21 SNL the top-rated comedy telecast since The Big Bang Theory’s series finale in May.
TVLine readers gave the highly anticipated Christmas episode an average grade of “A.” Murphy’s nostalgic trip back to Studio 8H certainly helped as the comedian and SNL vet revived such characters as the grumpy green Gumby, Buckwheat, Mister Robinson and Velvet Jones.
Murphy was an SNL cast member from 1980 to 1984. He was first brought on as a featured player for Season 6, then promoted to repertory status ahead of Season 7. He was just 19 years old when he got his start. At the time, that made him the youngest hire in SNL history. To this day, he is the only cast member to have hosted the show while he was still a regular (after his 48 Hrs. costar Nick Nolte called out sick in the fall of 1982).