Why "SNL" Fans Think Bowen Yang Is Quitting Amid Recent Controversies
There are several clues that the cast member disagrees with some of the show's choices.
During his five years as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, Bowen Yang has played a range of fan-favorite characters, including an overly enthusiastic SoulCycle instructor, disgraced former congressperson George Santos, and even the iceberg that sunk the Titanic. But the popular cast member now has viewers wondering if he's leaving the show. SNL has made some controversial moves in recent weeks, and Yang has dropped hints that he's not been happy with some of them. So while he hasn't made any comment about his future with SNL, fans believe the comedian's recent behavior online is a clue that he's about to quit.
At the end of the Jan. 28 episode hosted by Dakota Johnson, comedian Dave Chappelle appeared on stage during the good nights, even though he wasn't featured in any sketches. Fans noted that Yang seemed to be standing as far away as possible from the standup and looked annoyed while speaking to castmate Sarah Sherman, who glanced over at Chappelle. The Half Baked star has faced significant criticism for his offensive jokes about the LGBTQ community, particularly transgender people.
The most recent episode aired on Feb. 3 and was hosted by The Bear star Ayo Edebiri. Fans took to social media to complain when Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley made a cameo appearance during a sketch, making a joke about her earlier refusal to name slavery as a cause of the Civil War.
During the same episode, it was announced that the host for the next new episode, airing Feb. 24, would be comedian Shane Gillis. This came as a shock to many audience members, since Gillis had been hired as a cast member the same year as Yang but was fired a few days later for past homophobic and racist jokes, particularly about Asian people. As Yang is Chinese-American and gay, many fans mentioned him in their negative reactions to the news.
"Bowen Yang is one of the biggest breakout stars of @nbcsnl in YEARS So Lorne Michaels has transphobe Dave Chappelle on stage last week, homophobe Nikki Haley on tonight, & next week Shane Gillis-who got fired from SNL for MAKING RACIST ASIAN JOKES-as host. This is not [expletive] ok," wrote an X user. Along with an image showing Gillis' name as the next host, someone else posted, "Bowen Yang deserves so much better than all the weird [expletive] they've made him put up with." Yang has not commented on Gillis hosting, though as an X user noted, he does follow the comedian on Instagram.
As for Yang's reaction to the politician's appearance, on Feb. 5, he posted an Instagram of a bouquet of flowers that had been gifted to Haley by series creator Lorne Michaels with a card reading, "Amb. Haley—Welcome to Studio 8H! From Lorne + Everyone at SNL." The Fire Island star wrote in the caption, "everyone :)." The Instagram post has since been deleted.
The same day, a fan noted on X (formerly Twitter) that Yang had deleted all but nine of his Instagram posts, including everything referencing the show.
"Hmm…Bowen Yang appears to have deleted almost everything off his Instagram, save for 9 posts which are non-SNL related," the X user wrote. "This may not be a good sign."
In response, another SNL viewer wrote, "I don't think he'd leave mid-season, but I could see him going at the end of the season. He's one of about 6 cast members I think need to leave at the end of the season but I certainly never wanted it to be for this reason." Seasons of Saturday Night Live usually conclude in May.
Another X user wrote of Yang, "Honestly wouldn't blame him for whatever decision he makes considering snls recent choices I'm sure it's deeply uncomfortable for him."
Alongside a screenshot of Yang and Chappelle on stage at the end of the Jan. 28 episode, someone wrote, "seriously bowen yang needs to be set free from this. he should be doin 3 romcoms and 1 hulu series a year and focusing on his podcast, respectfully." Yang co-hosts the podcast Las Culturistas with Matt Rogers.
Best Life has reached out to representative for Yang for comment.