Since Saturday Night Live first aired in 1975, the series' cultural reach has been one of its defining legacies. That wouldn't be the case without the series' cast members and the impressions of celebrities and politicians that they've brought into the world. Thanks to Kate McKinnon's superhuman ability to impersonate nearly anyone - male or female - that SNL legacy of taking an impression and making it more notable than the subject of that impression has been magnified and enhanced.
While everyone can remember McKinnon's hilariously robotic and manic impression of Hillary Clinton, it's her dozens of lesser-known impressions that really, well, make an impression. By latching onto one recognizable thing about a person that may not be as recognizable as, say, a Presidential nominee, McKinnon is able to inject each of her impressions with enough oddball energy to be hilarious, even if not completely accurate. McKinnon doesn't deal in pitch-perfect impressions that look and sound like the real thing. Rather, she uses her Emmy-winning charm to capture the essence of everyone she plays, and she throws in just enough insanity them all completely unique. Kate McKinnon as Justin Bieber is somehow just as eerily accurate in emotion as her Ellen DeGeneres.
Just by looking at all the Kate McKinnon impressions from Saturday Night Live on this list, it's obvious that McKinnon is one of the best things to come out of the show in the last decade. To celebrate her talent before she leaves the halls of Studio 8H for good, let's practice our Hillary Clinton human walk and put on our Justin Bieber Calvin's because it's time to rank this list of all the Kate McKinnon impressions from Saturday Night Live.
There's not much to say about Kate McKinnon's Hillary Clinton impression that the world doesn't already know. It was iconic, it was fantastic, it changed perceptions of Hillary Clinton throughout the 2016 election. In fact, McKinnon's Clinton is so pitch-perfect that what most people don't know is she was far from the first person to play Clinton on SNL. Before McKinnon perfected Clinton, there was Jan Hooks, Janeane Garofalo, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler, Drew Barrymore, Rachel Dratch, Vanessa Bayer, and Miley Cyrus.
Kate McKinnon has appeared as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg a few times, and each instance has been more hilarious than the last. Playing Ginsburg as the badass octagenarian that she is, it's arguable that McKinnon helped make Ginsburg cool, while still impersonating her in the most ridiculous McKinnon way possible.
A lot of fun can be had with a Martha Stewart impression, as evidenced by the fact that both Ana Gasteyer and Kristen Wiig played the famous entrepreneur in the past. But when McKinnon took over the Martha Stwart mantle, she injected the impression with her own serious Martha Stewart energy, with just a dash of knowing McKinnon smile thrown in.
It's safe to say that the Ellen impression is the one that made a mark, as it quickly became one of McKinnon's most popular impressions. With more appearances on SNL and eventually on Ellen itself, across from Ellen, as Ellen, it's tough to know where Kate McKinnon ends and where Ellen DeGeneres begins.