Both are looking for a renaissance of sorts this year. Both feel like they might be produced by someone on acid. On one of the last free Monday nights, before the NFL season kicks off, our TVs were graced with the MTV VMAs. Normally, I run like the hills as the VMAs haven’t been good in probably 10 years. Moon men are old news, music videos have long been replaced with reality shows (don’t get me wrong I loved Jersey Shore in its prime but I can’t get behind Family Reunion or The Challenges which I can’t believe are still going) so why even bother with the awards that honor music videos no one has ever seen? This year caught my attention because they decided to switch it up and host it in Jerz (New Jersey), and let’s be honest, Missy Elliot deserves to be honored.
I’m a true Swift stan (as you know by now, I am not ashamed) so I HAD to watch the opening performance by my girl, but then a middle-aged, over-the-top, fake Jersey Shore “comedian” took the stage to host and I quickly remembered where I was. The VMAs have become a shell of the show it once was, filled with epic performances good (Britney Spears in 2003 dancing to I’m a Slave 4 U with a snake) and bad (Britney Spears comeback in 2009 yikes), and some of the most shocking moments on TV (“Imma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time,” a meat dress, and one of my fave Beyoncé performances of Love on Top featuring the reveal of a BABY BUMP!). But since then, how many years can we be expected to watch Imagine Dragons mashups with rappers? Haven’t we been through enough as a country!? This year, the show clearly failed at the host position but regardless, the performance line-up kicked off with Swift and featured the artists that have actually been popular this year- yes, a strange concept indeed. Could I live without the same Shawn Mendes performance for the 5th year in a row, sure (so could Halsey who texted during the performance LOL), but I enjoy watching a sizzling Lizzo de-robe into a leotard singing her anthems, and the newly hot JoBros (featuring Joe Jonas in a sleeveless Canadian tuxedo?) play to a crowd at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park because that’s actually fun (not some LA soundstage two blocks from the Staples Center). I appreciate the effort here. Also, still love MTV’s shady camera work, always panning the crowd of celebs for a good reaction (see Sophie Turner’s hilarious reaction to the letdown of Shawn Mendes/Camila Cabello performance on my insta @sweetsweetfantasysunday).
Here’s the thing, soon our savior football returns but the Monday Night Football booth is equally a mess. ESPN is fortunate we will always tune in to MNF out of the need for football as many days a week as possible and to make sure our last player comes through in fantasy, but honestly the network could do so much better! For the 2018-2019 season, we suffered through rookie announcer Jason Witten who often chose to scream instead of talk, but then when he did talk drop gems such as “San Francisco can’t keep kicking themselves in the foot like that”, sweat profusely (is that why he was red, or should we have been more concerned?), and change up his hair on us thinking we wouldn’t notice. He, unfortunately, did not have the same beginner’s luck (skill, let’s just call it what it is) as his former teammate Tony Romo (CBS has become a must-watch during his games) and decided he’s better off begging Dak Prescott to throw the ball more than 20 yards and babysitting Zeke. So that leaves us with Booger McFarland, Joe Tessitore, and Lisa Salters on the sidelines. Last season, we had the unforgettable, experiment-gone bad, “The Booger Mobile,” a mobile crane around the 50-yard line with Booger floating around giving commentary from the “sidelines.” I’m sorry I can barely write the sentence without thinking this is a terrible idea who approved this for 17 games??? Let’s not forget Booger’s crane situation physically impeded the views of paying fans, that’s truly insane! Like MTV, ESPN is trying to right the ship and have mercifully decided to let Booger into the commentator booth with Joe Tessitore. Booger isn’t terrible, he provides some decent insight as the color analyst and has a lot of great broadcasting and playing experience so we can live with him. Tessitore, on the other hand, doesn’t jump out at me. He is a true professional, been doing this a while in the college game so he provides a pretty standard play-by-play. I like him better than Sean McDonough, but wouldn’t we all trade everyone to have Gru-dawg back?
I appreciate both MTV and ESPN’s commitment to improving their truly dreadful productions, but I think both are still a far cry from quality programming. ESPN falls somewhere between all the other networks but has something they don’t have which is football on Mondays. NBC (sometimes I wonder if Al is even alive, he doesn’t really get that juice up for big plays anymore…and Cris, noted Eagle hater, can take a hike for all I care) has Carrie Underwood deliver an ear-wormy theme song, CBS has their secret weapon, Romo (I’ll repeat, I’m an Eagles fan and I tune in to hear Tony, he’s THAT good), and FOX (blah) well they carry the games on Sunday we need. This brings us to the key point, football will always be more watchable than the VMAs- regardless of the broadcasters or production because sports are the greatest form of drama and football is such a commodity (16 games total, that’s it!). We can mute the TV if the broadcast is driving us crazy and watch the game but muting a music awards show seems more problematic.
ESPN MNF isn’t going anywhere, but hopefully, this crew can bring something better with a season under their belt. MTV, probably hopeless, but if you keep honoring my 90s/00s musical icons mixed with popular performers and less weird tributes then maybe I’ll flip back and forth between the show and Below Deck Mediterranean. I will say Missy Elliot holding a moon man and Alyson Stoner breakdancing literally took me back to 2003, so that was cool.
*I’d like to note Comedy Central was playing the VMAs and I feel this was intentional to keep people from watching The Office re-runs. There I said it.