The new version attempts to stay current through its attention to social media: Ed Sheeran played a tweet-ranking game, audience members wielded phones, actively collecting (and likely sharing) live photos and videos, and social media gags were planned, like crowdsourcing stunts via Twitter for correspondent Liza Koshy to perform on the street. In a sign that these efforts are out of touch with the actual contemporary internet landscape, however, the show wasn’t live tweeting during the premiere.
Despite their social media chops, the hosts aren’t yet equipped to handle live TV realities, like dealing with timing and technical blunders, or how to authentically hold interviews without drawing attention back to themselves. The effortlessly cool air embodied by Carson Daly, LaLa Anthony, or Sway has been replaced with grating vivacity. (Save for Dhia, who previously was an anchor for Complex and was the program’s standout host.)
TRL 2.0 prides itself on intense fandom; the goals it inspires begin with a hashtag. For it to embody any of the cultural relevance of the original, though, MTV must create these hashtag-worthy moments that viewers won’t want to miss -- and can’t wait to share later.