This year’s MTV Music & TV Awards (note: not the Video Music Awards) were a raucous, drunken, nearly star-studded affair. This year the annual shindig was hosted by Zachary Levi, a first-time awards show host, best known as an actor who honed his comedic chops on the set of Chuck and as the star of Shazam!. Sadly, the show is not aired live — it was filmed on June 15, but aired on the 17th — so much of the drama and several of the award presentations took place off camera. Luckily there was more than enough glitz, glamour, and goofiness to spare.
Here were the wildest, wackiest, and weirdest moments from the awards show:
Thirstiest Joke: “I haven’t seen this many nervous hot people since Fyre Festival,” said Levi in his opening monologue. “Enjoy the water on your tables, I worked very hard for that.”
Best Switcheroo: “It was a big year on television,” said Levi. “Audiences were once again captivated by an epic saga of a cast of fierce warriors vying for the favor of a powerful queen. I mean, RuPaul’s Drag Race has never been better, guys.”
The Biggest Clunker: In his opening monologue, Levi gave a special shout-out to Ray J, one of the stars of Love and Hip Hop, although, according to Levi, “I’m sure some of you are more familiar with his work as a cameraman.” (Go ahead and Google the line, which originated back in 2003.) Ray J, who had stood up to mug for the camera, quickly sat down, and as the line hit, his wife flipped the camera two well-deserved birds as the audience groaned. To his credit, Levi quickly realized the joke did not go over well and moved on quickly, but it set the tone for the rest of Levi’s performance.
Best Joke For Old People: It was not from Zachary Levi, but from Sandra Bullock, who took home the prize for Most Frightened Performance for her work in Bird Box, which Levi dubbed “the can’t see film of the year.” She got on stage, accepted her prize, and thanked “Netflix for making an educational video on the horrors or parenting.” While kids and teens and young millennials watching the show may have been mystified, the parents got a good chuckle.
Most Extra Entrance: Dwayne The Rock Johnson must have wanted to get home for bedtime with his French bulldogs, because after handing out the first award, the show cut straight to the Generation Award. This year it was being given to Johnson, who took a page out of his WWE days and went Wrestlemania big on his entrance. There was his name in flaming lights, a team of black clad, bandana wearing dancers, shirtless dancers, and some extensive choreography set to Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” The Rock entered as steam blew and the guitar solo jangled. Levi handed The Rock the award and fled the stage.
Sagest Advice: When Dwayne Johnson decided he wanted to be an actor, he quickly realized something: ”I wasn’t going to conform to Hollywood, Hollywood was going to conform to me.“ Johnson has learned a few things on his journey to King of Hollywood and recipient of this year’s Generation award, including that “being kind, being compassionate, being inclusive, and being good to people,” are vital. He closed his speech noting his personal mantra, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”
Best Way To Win and Lose Simultaneously: Nick Cannon was nominated as Best Host for his work on both Wild’n Out and The Masked Singer. So while he won for Wild’n Out, he also lost. Neither explains why he wore a Louis Vuitton bulletproof vest and Bain mask to the show.
Best Wing Man: “It’s very heavy and you’re drunk,” said Nick Cannon to his Wild’n Out co-star, who had drunkenly escorted him to the stage and set about weighing the award Cannon had won.
Greatest Choir Fake-out: Lizzo, the “greatest rapper/singer/flautist in the game,” according to Tiffany Haddish, hit the stage wearing a choir robe with a gospel choir waiting in the wings like she was about to stage a Sister Act revival. It was all an act, sister, because they ripped off their robes and destroyed the stage singing, “Juice.” (Is this a good place to mention that I told y’all to listen to Lizzo back in 2014? I think it is.)
Best Double Entendre: “I love to give back,” said Trixie Mattel, smirking at co-host Nick Kroll.
The Realest Real: “I thought we were too ratchet to win an award,” said Lil Scrappy from Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta taking home the award for Reality Royalty with his castmates.
Also Keeping It Real: While everyone at home was rooting for Ruth Bader Ginsburg to win her fight against inequality (the film RBG was nominated in the Best Fight category, while the justice herself won the category of Best Real-Life Hero), Best Fight went to Brie Larson for her Captain Marvel fight against Minn-Erva. Larson didn’t accept the award, though. Instead, she gave it to the two women who trained her and served as her stunt doubles in the film, Joanna Bennett and Renae Moneymaker.
Greatest Multi-tasker: Tiffany Haddish not only helped introduce Lizzo’s performance, but also gave Jada Pinkett Smith the Trailblazer Award. She told the audience about Smith’s acting resume and charitable work adding, “To top it all off, she’s married to a real life prince.” She wasn’t the only one to play multiple roles at the show: Both Elisabeth Moss and Dan Levy presented and stuck around to collect prizes.
A Star Is Busy: Lady Gaga won the award for Best Performance in a Movie, but she is now too famous to make an appearance. It’s too bad, because if she had been able to fit the award show into her busy schedule, she could have recreated Bradley Cooper’s award show scene from A Star is Born.
Worst Use of June Diane Raphael: to mark the show’s first hour, Zachary Levi returned to the stage for an Us-inspired sketch with June Diane Raphael as his long-suffering wife. It was not a funny sketch or a good parody, but it was a good reminder that Raphael should be hosting the show.
Best Excuse To Re-Watch To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before: Noah Centineo and Lana Condor took home the Best Kiss prize for their sweet and tender kiss as Peter Kavinsky and Lara Jean. If you don’t quite remember the award-winning kissing, just re-watch the movie.
Worst Use of Game of Thrones Footage: It’s unclear how much money the producers paid HBO to be able to insert Zachary Levi into the show’s final season so he could say inappropriate things about Varys for another time-filling sketch, but it was too much. And when Danaerys had her dragon torch him, it wasn’t soon enough.
Best Reason to Share Popcorn: For the first time in the show’s history, all the actors nominated in the Best Performance in a Show category were women. While Elisabeth Moss won for her work in Handmaid’s Tale, Emilia Clarke (a.k.a. Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen); Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez; and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s Kiernan Shipka all really deserved their nods. Next time they should split the Golden Popcorn between them all.
Best Tessa Thompson: Tessa Thompson!
Most Emotional Speech: When Surviving R. Kelly won for Best Documentary, the recipients fought back tears as Brie Miranda Bryant, Senior Vice President of unscripted development and programming for Lifetime, thanked the survivors and their parents, “We know the journey doesn’t start or stop with this journey but the world is listening now.”
Best Spoiler: The cast of Stranger Things hit the stage to give out the award for Breakthrough Performance and while they were there, Gaten Matarrazzo ”accidentally” announced that his character Dustin dies in the show’s upcoming third season. Oops.
Best Explanation for the Hosting: Turns out that Zachary Levi was nominated for Best Comedic Performance for his work in Shazam!. If he had won, it would have gone a long way to explaining why he was selected to host the show. However, in a shocking lack of nepotism from MTV, the award actually went to the very deserving Dan Levy of Schitt’s Creek.