There’s a bunch of speculation hopping around the internet about who’s leaving SNL now that the latest season has ended. The very first thing we saw on tonight’s season finale was Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, and Kenan Thompson front and center on the main stage, which immediately made fans speculate they were leaving. They are the four longest-tenured members of the cast at this point, and all have other professional irons in the fire (Kenan even has his own sitcom, which has officially been renewed for a second season), so yeah, maybe they’re gone. That would make sense. It would be disappointing, though, as all four have a lot to give the show still.
Case in point: Aidy Bryant’s Brawr Store sketch tonight, which is officially labeled as “Lingerie Store” on the SNL YouTube page. Bryant is basically an all-timer at this point, somebody who fits in perfectly in every kind of sketch, and whose own work is both consistently funny and noticeably better than most of what airs on the show. She and McKinnon have been a top-tier duo on the show for the last nine years, with a raft of hilarious, often surreal sketches to their credit. “Lingerie Store” absolutely feels like something Bryant and McKinnon would do together, only with tonight’s host Anya Taylor-Joy filling in as the McKinnon role. The two play the co-owners of a brawr store in New York—a “brawr” being their term for the kind of industrial-strength brassiere their store specializes in. As a man, I am slightly hesitant to write about this sketch, but as the husband of a woman who owns a few brawrs of her own, and who totally lost it during this sketch more than she has at any other point this season, I can report that the target audience found this to be very truthful and almost painfully hilarious.
“Lingerie Store” proves Bryant still has so much left in the tank, if she returns to the show. It also, though, works as a fine farewell—an understated final sketch that lets her do what she’s so good at without drawing too much attention to her departure. If it is her last work as a regular, she’s going out on the same consistently high level most of her run is known for. Given how the show operates, it’s entirely possible, even likely, that neither Bryant nor SNL has an clue if she’ll be returning next season. She’s totally earned the right to graduate to whatever comes next for her career—if I ran a studio I’d immediately commission a series of comedies starring her and McKinnon, even with comedy basically being a dead genre in theaters at this point—but as selfish as it might sound I’d totally love to see her return to SNL for at least one more season. It was weird earlier this decade when SNL suddenly started giving superstar send-offs to its departing cast members—remember the last episodes of Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, and Fred Armisen?—but if anybody from the current cast deserves something like that it’s Bryant (well, Kenan first, then Aidy), and since that didn’t quite happen tonight it’d be great to see her return for one last farewell tour. It’d be totally fitting with her personality to reject such star treatment, though, so if this is the last we see of Aidy Bryant as a regular, it was absolutely appropriate.
Anyway. Here’s the clip. Enjoy “Lingerie Store,” and wish Bryant well in whatever might come next.