In the midst of all the excitement about Jason Sudeikis not leaving the show and Jay Pharaoh taking over Obama-playing duties, we almost forgot one crucial component of tonight’s Saturday Night Live premiere: Seth MacFarlane is hosting. And that fact inspires some mixed feelings.
MacFarlane and EW have had their differences in the past. TV critic Ken Tucker was famously harsh on Family Guy when it premiered; the show retaliated with a bit in which Peter Griffin, having discovered he was out of toilet paper, wiped his butt with a copy of our magazine instead. But we’ve also openly admired MacFarlane’s work, or at least his work ethic: In 2008, EW named Fox’s animation king the smartest person in TV. Whether you love his creations or hate them — and, generally speaking, there are few people who fall into neither category — you have to admit that the guy is a pretty fascinating figure.
It’ll be similarly fascinating to see what he’s like on camera, since the vast majority of MacFarlane’s acting work has occurred in a recording booth. Will the multihyphenate stick with variations on the voices and characters he’s made famous on Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show, or will he show off a range and depth we never knew he had? It could go either way — though I’d be shocked if there weren’t at least one sketch featuring MacFarlane speaking in a lisping British accent. A big, flashy musical number, possibly cribbed from a classic like The Music Man, is also basically guaranteed.
MacFarlane will be joined by Frank Ocean, the Odd Future member who made waves this summer when he penned a candid blog post about his sexuality. Music fans came for Ocean’s frankness, but stayed for his gorgeous R&B tracks; Ocean’s poignant, hypnotic Channel Orange has performed well in an age when few artists can brag about album sales. Seeing Ocean get such a huge national platform will definitely be a treat — especially since John Mayer, of all people, is apparently going to join him at Studio 8H.
Will Mayer’s performance help remind the public that he’s a musician, rather than just that guy who dates and discards every famous lady in Hollywood? Who will play Paul Ryan: Bill Hader or Taran Killam? Which female cast member will step into Kristin Wiig’s shoes, getting the highest amount of airtime — and how will those three new cast members fare? Discuss these questions, as well as the episode itself, below, and check back in the morning to see Ken Tucker’s full review of the premiere.