Earlier this week, a chill ran through the bones of many Hollywood stars: Seth MacFarlane—the creator of The Family Guy, American Dad!, The Cleveland Show, and blockbuster movie Ted—was announced as the host of this year’s Oscars. While this choice is certainly not as scary as, say, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, MacFarlane’s shows frequently skewer celebrities and, well, everything else. But the Oscars are still seen as the epitome of taste and glamour, with an expected reverence: The celebrity audience likes to be teased, not made fun of. Ultimately, MacFarlane is an unknown commodity as he mostly works behind the scenes. He might charm (like Hugh Jackman) or just make everyone really uncomfortable (ahem, Ricky Gervais).
Will MacFarlane be a good host? Like making any great decision, let’s break it down in Pros and Cons:
1. Pro: On September 15th, MacFarlane hosted the season premiere of Saturday Night Live—possibly the linchpin for clinching the Oscars gig. While the show itself was lackluster, MacFarlane did a laudable job. He was tame, affable, and demonstrated an ability to play on someone else’s turf.
2. Con: Some celebrities don’t like him. Hell, even Carol Burnett sued Family Guy in 2007.
3. Pro: People love a musical number. And MacFarlane, with a damn good, crooner voice and a penchant for songs on his shows, will certainly deliver.
4. Con: So what if MacFarlane’s Ted is the 6th highest grossing film of 2012, so far? For the most part, MacFarlane is an outsider. Will he be able to razz Jack Nicholson, who probably doesn’t even know who MacFarlane is?
5. Pro: Audiences love spontaneity. As a writer, MacFarlane has extensive experience with what works for an audience. Working with his team of writers, MacFarlane will be able to poke fun at things on the fly during the telecast. (Think: Billy Crystal and Jack Palance.)
6. Con: For the most part, MacFarlane is not an on-screen talent. Therefore, there might easily be an overreliance on character voices. (I already see Stewie Griffin giving out the Best Animation awards.)
7. Pro: With possible nominees The Hobbit and The Dark Knight Rises, this year’s telecast should bring in a much larger audience. MacFarlane will also help to make sure that the audience is younger, as—the producers surely believe—his fans will turn the channel to watch.
8. Con: Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show, Ted—all are funny, but often wildly inappropriate. (9//11, AIDS, and pedophilia have all been subjects of jokes.) As Gervais has proved, caustic is not always appreciated.
Final verdict: With fierce comedic skill, musical ability, and pop-culture knowledge, Seth MacFarlane should be an estimable and engaging host. Whether he can refrain from offending half the audience in the process, well, we will see.