How MTV's 'Live' VMAs Weren't Very Live At All

doja cat mtv vmas 2020

It's no secret by now that every television show which has returned to production (or is about to) has had to get very creative when it comes to following new guidelines to keep everyone involved safe. This also includes finding news ways of being able to give audiences what they expect when they tune in, so that the fan experience doesn't get bogged down in the realities of our current health crisis. Well, if you tuned in for last night's live broadcast of the MTV VMAs, it turns out that they weren't quite as "live" as we thought, after all.

Obviously, a lot is being altered behind-the-scenes at every series, from talk shows to games shows, and scripted television to reality competitions. But, award shows like the VMAs are a bit different in that not only do they generally have massive live audiences, but also presenters, winners, and a whole host of performers and their teams, as well as crew to deal with. So, MTV had to get super inventive when it came to making sure everyone who needed to be involved could socially distance as much as possible, and according to Page Six, this meant that a lot of the red carpet interviews, performances and award presentations were recorded in advance.

Apparently, in order to stay within new CDC rules for filming, pandemic-style, the VMAs were already forced to change its venue from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center to several outdoor locations around the city, and with little or no live audience. To add to that safety measure, every artist who flew to New York to perform, along with anyone on their team, had to quarantine for three or four days before the taping, and there was COVID-19 testing for all who went on set for performances, whether they were on-camera during the taping or not. And, these people were tested when they arrived in New York, as well as right before performing.

On top of all that, the producers also wanted to make sure that there were as few people on set for the duration as possible, so red carpet interviews, rehearsals and shooting those pre-recorded performances all took place either earlier in the same day or earlier in the week. The Weeknd, Maluma, and CNCO were among those to make the trek to New York and recorded their performances around the city, as did model Bella Hadid, who presented the new Tricon Award to Lady Gaga.

But, MTV also made allowances for those who didn't want to risk airplane travel right now, or simply couldn't. Those who didn't want to endure a New York quarantine, or who had already had a team member test positive, were able to record their performances in Los Angeles. Doja Cat, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and Ariana Grande were some of the performers who took the L.A. option, and all recorded their musical numbers in a studio in front of a green screen, so that the necessary special effects could be added before each performance aired during the show.

All in all, while this year's MTV VMAs did feel a bit different, I'd say the producers did a pretty good job of making sure that everyone could stay as safe as possible while still giving viewers what they were hoping for with the wild award show. Let us know what you thought in the poll below, and be sure to see what you can watch in the coming weeks with our guide to fall TV!

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Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Covering The Witcher, Outlander, Virgin River, Sweet Magnolias and a slew of other streaming shows, Adrienne Jones is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend, and started in the fall of 2015. In addition to writing and editing stories on a variety of different topics, she also spends her work days trying to find new ways to write about the many romantic entanglements that fictional characters find themselves in on TV shows. She graduated from Mizzou with a degree in Photojournalism.