Saturday Night Live Star Says She’s Leaving For Her Mental Health

Saturday Night Live Melissa Villaseñor is leaving the show for mental health reasons.

By Douglas Helm | Published

Former Saturday Night Live cast member Melissa Villaseñor recently spoke about her decision to leave the sketch comedy series, citing mental health as the primary reason. Deadline reported on her appearance on The Daily Beast’s Last Laugh podcast where she said “At the end of the day it was about my mental health,” adding “Last season, I had a couple of panic attacks. I think it was just…I was struggling.”

Melissa Villaseñor

It definitely sounds like Villaseñor’s decision wasn’t an easy one, but it seems like it was the right one for her. Villaseñor also wasn’t the only recent departure from Saturday Night Live, as Alex Moffat and Aristotle Athari announced they were leaving along with Villaseñor on September 1st. Chris Redd would also leave the cast later that month.

This round of departures followed the previous mass exodus that included Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney, and Pete Davidson. Saturday Night Live saw quite the shakeup, setting a record for the number of cast members who left. Of course, this is nothing new for SNL, which has a rotating door of cast members and is where many great comedy careers got their start.

Saturday Night Live is now in its 48th season which kicked off its season premiere on October 1st with Miles Teller as host and Kendrick Lamar as the musical guest. The second episode of the season saw The Banshees of Inisherin’s Brendan Gleeson hosting with Willow as the musical guest. The most recent episode of the series featured Megan Thee Stallion pulling double duty as both the host and the musical guest.

Saturday Night Live will be airing another double-duty episode this Saturday as Jack Harlow takes on the hosting and musical guest roles. After that, Amy Schumer will be returning for her third SNL hosting gig with musical guest Steve Lacy. Repertory cast members for the 48th season include Michael Che, Colin Jost, Mikey Day, Chloe Fineman, Heidi Gardner, Ego Nwodim, Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson, and Bowen Yang.

Previously featured cast members Andrew Dismukes and Punkie Johnson were promoted to the repertory cast this season as well. Meanwhile, Saturday Night Live added some fresh faces to the featured player lineup this season with Marcello Hernandez, Molly Kearney, Michael Longfellow, and Devon Walker joining the cast. James Austin Johnson and Sarah Sherman also return as featured players.

While Saturday Night Live isn’t quite as popular as it was during its heyday, the show continues to bring in strong viewer numbers, with the 2020-2021 season bringing in 9 million viewers per episode. The superstar hosts and strong supporting cast have been enough to keep the show popular. As far as TV shows go, Saturday Night Live may be one of those “too big to fail” situations, even when it’s having historic cast member departures.

Saturday Night Live can still draw in massive celebrity guests and musical artists, which will always draw some level of attention. Meanwhile, Saturday Night Live has its 50th season just around the corner. It seems likely that Lorne Michaels and the rest of the SNL team will go big for the show’s 50th anniversary, so that should definitely renew some interest in the long-running series.