The "Ted" star was criticized for what many critics found to be vaguely sexist and homophobic humor, as well as old-school song-and-dance routines that failed to enliven the Academy Awards.
Some critics praised MacFarlane for being an energetic ringmaster, willing to push the envelope. But most reviews on Twitter and in more traditional media outlets were lackluster, with many griping that MacFarlane was either tasteless or toothless.
In TheWrap, Tim Molloy accused the show and its host of relying too heavily on "Family Guy"-style gags.
"Self-referencing was the order of the evening Sunday at an overstuffed Oscars telecast where host Seth MacFarlane and producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron decided the ceremony was All About Them," Molloy wrote.
"Inflated egos are to be expected. But we can usually count on the producers and host to share the spotlight. Not so this year," he added.
The Los Angeles Times' Mary McNamara branded the show "dull." She implied that MacFarlane's opening bit with William Shatner as Captain Kirk, dialing in from the future to proclaim the show a disaster, may have been a little too on the nose.
"As expected, MacFarlane was occasionally crude and mildly offensive; unfortunately, he wasn't very funny," she wrote. "Which is a pretty big problem for a comedian and one not at all mitigated by playing up the possibility of being named the worst host in history."
Dana Steven's stopped just short of labeling MacFarlane a misogynist in her pan of his performance. Slate's movie critic raved about the appearances by a trio of three powerhouse women — Adele, Shirley Bassey and Michele Obama — while cutting the "Family Guy" creator and his opening number about naked actresses down to size.
She wrote: "I’ll limit my discussion of 'We Saw Your Boobs' to noting how, um, nakedly it put into relief a recurring theme in last night’s ceremony: A defensive anxiety about the ascendant power of women (emblematized, later on, by the pairing of the statuesque [Charlize] Theron with the wee Dustin Hoffman as awards presenters.)"
The Washington Post's Hank Stuever was slightly kinder even as he acknowledged that MacFarlane had difficulty finding the right tone for Hollywood's annual orgy of self-congratulation.
"MacFarlane, the potty-mouth cartoon mogul turned latter-day lounge lizard, did a fairly middle-of-the-road job as host on a fairly middle-of-the-road telecast," he wrote. "He occasionally found the balance between the knifey, pop-savvy humor of his TV shows and his other side as a show-biz sycophant who sings all the standards at the top of his lungs. What you got was a combination of sicko and retro, an Oscar show hosted by someone who waited until Oscar night to discover that he’s only so-so at stand-up comedy."
Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman said that MacFarlane's antics started out strong, but lost steam as the hours ticked by.
"Some of this stuff was pretty funny," he wrote. "But by calling constant attention to the naughty factor, MacFarlane also created an echo chamber of outrage, working a little too hard to top himself with faux-scandalous gags about race, Jews in Hollywood, and the the killing of Abraham Lincoln."
Variety's Brian Lowry seemed to be OK with MacFarlane's tap-dancing and crooning, but he noted that despite a reputation for crudity, the host was a conventional choice.
"In a sense, MacFarlane was playing Billy Crystal, just 25 years younger," he wrote. "Indeed, while it's hard to remember a more self-referential opening — dwelling about whether MacFarlane was up to the task — his first flurry of jokes felt about as edgy as a standard Jay Leno monologue on 'The Tonight Show,' just with an industry bent: Ben Affleck being overlooked in the director bids, Meryl Streep's frequent nominations, the tumultuous Chris Brown-Rihanna relationship, etc."
"Congratulations @SethMacFarlane , you did great mate, handled it all with grace, #topjob," Crowe tweeted.