I’ll admit I wasn’t too sure how a hostless Academy Awards would work. When ABC announced that no one would replace Kevin Hart in 2019, I asked the same questions many others did: Would it be completely flavorless or would it be great? Would it feel like something was missing or would it make us all wonder why we never tried this before?
In the end it was a combination of all those things. It was a rather toothless, casual, smooth affair that didn’t have many stand-out moments but also didn’t make any major mistakes. Simply put, it went better than expected. After months of controversy and bizarre production choices, the actual ceremony was a win for the Academy.
So it’s no surprise that they’re looking to do it exactly the same way next year. ABC entertainment head Karey Burke said this when asked about doing the ceremony without a host in 2020:
Sorry, Kevin Hart. You won’t be getting your chance next year either.
I’m not surprised that ABC wants to try the hostless approach again. While the 2019 telecast didn’t have many water cooler moments it ran smoothly and the audience seemed to mostly enjoy what they saw. But I’ll be the rare contrarian here and say that I hope they don’t do the show without a host forever. Something just feels missing without someone running the show. I’m grateful that the show is more compact but I personally miss the jokes between categories and the monologue at the top. Obviously the jokes and monologue need to be good but that’s a whole other issue. My point is that a host can add in needed spice and personality to a show that sometimes desperately needs it.
I also feel that ABC wouldn’t be so high on a hostless show if the ratings hadn’t been strong. They happened to do the show without a MC in a year with incredibly popular movies and performances, bringing in bigger ratings. Let’s see how happy they are with the show in a year without Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper singing sweetly to each other or without Black Panther driving up the audience numbers. The show always performs better when the nominated movies and performers are popular. Let’s not just assume it was a hit this year because there wasn’t a comedian making jokes.
My prediction is that ABC will go a few years without someone hosting the Oscars but will then suddenly remember the good ol’ days of Chris Rock or Ellen and, boom, we suddenly have a host again. Then we can get back to the business of blaming all the successes or failures of the show on them.