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Pros and Cons: Reviewing This Season’s Major Awards Show Hosts

Kevin Hart will take on duties at the Academy Awards (for now), while an unexpected pairing of Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg has been tapped for the Golden Globes

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

As prognosticators continue to break down the impending awards-season showdowns between the likes of Black Panther, A Star Is Born, Roma, and [checks notes] Vice, two of the biggest ceremonies of the year nailed down their hosts this week. Later than usual, the Academy announced that Kevin Hart would host next year’s Oscars, while the HFPA unexpectedly tapped the duo of Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg for January’s Golden Globes. Now that we finally know who’s hosting these events, we can judge the three impending hosts on what they could bring to the table, what makes them different from hosts of years past, and what might be some of their pitfalls.

Pro: No Late-Night Hosts

In recent years, the biggest awards shows have essentially treated hosting duties like a game of musical chairs between networks’ respective late-night hosts. Jimmy Kimmel hosted the past two Oscars and the 2016 Emmys; James Corden has hosted the past two Grammy Awards; Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon each hosted Golden Globes ceremonies. And don’t worry, Stephen Colbert wasn’t excluded: He hosted the 2017 Emmys.

Granted, choosing a late-night host is a solid bet for running a smooth ship during an awards ceremony—it’s a tricky job that requires a lot of schmoozing and quick comedic bits, which is exactly what these comedians do every week at their day jobs. It’s also an easy (and cheap) way for ABC, NBC, and CBS to give their late-night shows some free advertising. But there’s been a disappointing sameness to awards shows lately, especially because the network late-night roster also doubles as a list of middle-aged white dudes.

At the bare minimum, the Oscars and Golden Globes are giving us something different: Hart and Samberg are both comedians who don’t host a late-night show, and Oh is an actress who is also nominated for her work on Killing Eve at the Globes. At the very least, change has taken place.

Con: Kevin Hart’s History of Insensitive Jokes

On the surface, Hart was a solid choice for the Oscars—for all the aforementioned reasons, his mainstream likability, and the fact hiring him probably comes with a guaranteed cameo from his swole pal Dwayne Johnson. But any prospective host for one of the biggest entertainment events of the year needs to be thoroughly vetted, and it’s safe to say Hart was not.

The comedian has a publicly documented history of homophobic remarks, not just on Twitter, but in some of his older stand-up bits—like the one where he talks about the fear of finding out his son is gay. He also turned down a role in Tropic Thunder because the character he would’ve played was gay and he was worried what “people are going to think.”

Hart has addressed these remarks before, telling Rolling Stone in 2015 that he wouldn’t tell these types of jokes now because the climate is more “sensitive,” adding, “I think we love to make big deals out of things that aren’t necessarily big deals, because we can.”

It’s not an actual apology so much as a deflection, and the comedian’s history of homophobic comments is something he will undoubtedly have to address leading up to the Oscars. (He’s started to delete some of his older tweets after people began resurfacing them on Wednesday, but as we all know, nothing on the internet ever truly goes away.) Whether the Academy sticks with Hart as the ceremony’s host remains to be seen—the hurried manner in which he was hired and the reports detailing the Academy’s issues with finding a host suggest that it may not have any other viable options. But this could’ve been avoided in the first place had the Academy done the requisite research on the person it was picking to oversee its show.

Pro: Making History, in a Good Way

With Oh sharing hosting duties with Samberg, she’ll become the first Asian person to host a major awards show of any kind. (Oh also made history earlier in the year by becoming the first Asian woman nominated for an Emmy for best lead actress, for Killing Eve.) That it took this long for any Asian person to host an awards show is an indictment in and of itself, but at the very least, Oh is a fun and inspiring choice. And if you’re wondering what she and Samberg have in common—well, it’s not much, but they were responsible for one of the funnier presentations at this year’s Emmys.

Having this dynamic stretched out over the course of a three-plus-hour awards show—one at which all the A-listers get to drink a ton of alcohol and get a bit messy—will be a highlight for the Golden Globes, not a point of contention.

Pro: This Probably Means Sandra Oh’s Mom Will Be at the Golden Globes

And that’s good news for everyone.

Pro: Potential Tiffany Haddish Sightings

If Hart keeps his hosting duties, he probably won’t tap just Dwayne Johnson for a favor: He’s got a whole host of A-list friends who could collaborate for skits. So long as the skits don’t become tiresome (see: Kimmel tricking normal people into meeting celebrities), they could be a good opportunity to not just avert the attention away from Hart, but give people like Tiffany Haddish an opportunity to flex their comedic chops.

Haddish and Hart have worked together for a while—they starred in Night School together this year, and she has said the comedian was influential in helping kick-start her career. All awards shows could use more Haddish bits. Consider this video of Hart and Haddish reading thirst tweets with BuzzFeed as the audition tape.

Pro: There’s Gotta Be Something with the Lonely Island at the Globes, Right?

It feels like a safe bet that with Samberg cohosting the Globes we’re going to get some musical component involving the Lonely Island. Here’s hoping Oh, Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone are given a better budget than the Oscars were apparently willing to provide earlier this year.

Con: Likely None of These Hosts Will Fix the Ratings Slide

Even if Hart, Oh, and Samberg nail all their comedic bits, who’s watching is beyond their control. Across the board, ratings for awards shows are on a downward spiral—a small part of a larger trend of consumers moving away from live television (outside of major sporting events and Game of Thrones). The Academy thought it could remedy its ratings situation by adding a Best Popular Film category, but that decision drew a ton of backlash and was quickly reversed before it even happened—with an eye toward tweaking the category in the future.

There might not be a solution to the dwindling ratings of these shows no matter who is hosting, barring another viral La La Land–type mishap at either ceremony. Perhaps the best-case scenario for being a good host is getting a few clips to blow up on Twitter and YouTube the following day. It’s not the same as having stellar ratings, but it’s 2018: That ship has sailed.