James Franco, Anne Hathaway, Oscar

Bob D'Amico, ABC

"If it's the worst Oscars show ever, who cares?"

Famous last words from James Franco? Did TV viewers care if the show was the worst ever?

Not really, the preliminary numbers suggest.

Ratings were down, but not disastrously so, from last year's Steve Martin- and Alec Baldwin-hosted affair, which benefitted from interest in Avatar (aka, the world's most popular movie ever).

If anything, the Oscars held up better than Hollywood's box office has in the wake of James Cameron's big, blue blockbuster. In fact, the audience for the Franco and Anne Hathaway show, estimated to have averaged a whopping 37.6 million, was bigger than Hugh Jackman's well-regarded 2009 telecast . (Less surprising, it was also bigger—a lot bigger—than Jon Stewart's hit-starved, no-win situation from 2008.)

But if apparently youth-coveting Oscar producers were looking to keep up with the Kardashians, or, rather, their fan base, then they missed. Early numbers show ratings among women aged 18-34 were down, only 2 percent, but still they were the people Franco and Hathaway were practically explicitly hired to attract.

As for the reviews… Well, those were disastrous.

Our own insta-review declared the telecast "clunky, amateurish, and pretty much lacking in actual entertainment value."

With the night's big winners all but expected (something, granted, beyond producers' control), the Hartford Courant decided "[w]hat people will remember from this brain-numbing Oscars is how terrible its hosts were."

Franco took more critical drubbing than Hathaway, as evidenced by the Washington Post poll: "James Franco as Oscars cohost: How bad was it?" (Pretty bad, per the results.)

Rolling Stone took the view that Franco was doing more of his noted performance art: "What if he barely said a word, just contemplating his own hotness and flashing his John-Mayer-post-lobotomy grin?" (The answer: Rolling Stone would dub the show "those terrible Oscars.")

And FoxNews.com spoke for the Twitterverse when it said, "Franco looks high."

None of this explains, of course, why so many people stuck with the show. Maybe to see if it'd get better? Or worse?

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