The MTV Movie Awards are no more.
In its place: The MTV Movie and Television Awards. And unlike the Golden Globes, where film and TV stars mingle on the red carpet but compete in parallel categories, MTV is all but erasing the barrier between the two. As Vulture reports, with only a few exceptions, TV shows and the performers therein will duke it out with movies, which will bring you match-ups like Moonlight vs. Jane the Virgin, Mr. Robot vs. Get Out, and more.
Another division MTV is doing away with: Gender-defined categories. No more best actor or best actress; all genders are eligible for all the awards. It’s exactly what some conservatives said would happen once we legalized gay marriage. We live in the future!
New and altered categories reflect a serious shift in not just the sensibilities of MTV’s younger viewers but the country at large: The new framework will celebrate movies and shows that reckon with what it means to be American and stand up against oppression. Read on for a breakdown of what changes to expect from this year’s festivities.
Movies and television shows will still be eligible for their own trophies, but the majority of categories will be “platform agnostic.”
Best movie and best show aren’t going anywhere. But the majority of MTV awards will be fought over by bothNext Generation award (essentially the Rookie of the Year for the pop culture set) will pit up-and-coming movie stars against their small-screen counterparts, best comedic performance will include actors from film and TV, and best tearjerker will pit Oscar darling Moonlight against TV cry-fest This is Us.
Acting categories will no longer be divided by gender
Would-be best actors will duke it out against hopeful best actresses from screens of every size. This is perhaps not a surprising development, given the self-described attitudes of the 25-and-under demographic MTV aims to reach: According to Fusion’s Massive Millennial Poll, which surveyed 1,000 people aged 18–34 and was published last February, “half of all Millennials believe that gender exists on a spectrum, and shouldn’t be limited to the categories of male and female.”
This also helps MTV sidestep some challenges that its highbrow/grown-up counterparts are already facing. Take the case of Billions star Asia Kate Dillon, the first non-binary actor to play television’s first gender non-binary character. As Variety reported, that Dillon “would be a contender for the upcoming Emmy Awards is a given — but when Showtime asked which category Dillon wanted to be submitted under, Dillon had to give it some thought.” Supporting actor? Supporting actress? There’s no hardware for “none of the above.”
Dillon wrote to the Television Academy to raise the issue of gender-specific acting categories: “I’d like to know if in your eyes ‘actor’ and ‘actress’ denote anatomy or identity and why it is necessary to denote either in the first place?” Dillon said that a “thoughtful exchange” with the Academy followed, and she was welcome to submit under either category. Dillon “couldn’t be happier” with the response and decided to submit under the actor category.
Dillon told Variety, “I think this is a really good place to start a larger conversation about the categories themselves, and what changes are possible and what may or may not be coming.” The MTV Awards can be a leader on this, given its young and liberal-leaning audience, in a way that the Emmys and Oscars likely can’t and won’t.
The past isn’t even past
To acknowledge the fact that today’s teens have access to basically every television show that has ever aired, the year’s awards will add a “Bingeworthy” category, celebrating the youths’ favorite shows from the archives.
“Best fight” is out. “Best fight against the system” is in.
Best fight has long been, as Vulture put it, “a staple of past MTV Movie Awards.” That golden popcorn was most recently taken home by Ryan Reynolds and Ed Skrein for their battle in Deadpool.
But in these resistance heavy times — protest is the new brunch, etc. — MTV will now be honoring characters who “best exemplify fighting against a system that tries to keep them down,” MTV president Chris McCarthy told Vulture. This year’s nominees include one regular, airs-on-TV TV show, Mr. Robot, one technically-a-TV-show-but-it’s-really-a-streaming-thing, Netflix’s Luke Cage, and three movies, all of which examine and celebrate individuals held back (and, sometimes, almost murdered) by racism: Get Out, Hidden Figures, and Loving.
No word yet on whether Kendall Jenner will be nominated for her beautifully woke performance in Pepsi’s critically-adored, short-lived commercial about how Jenner supported Black Lives Matter by tearing off her blonde wig, joining the “oconversation,” and giving a police officer some chill, refreshing sugar-water.
MTV is watching (all of) the Americans
Another new category will be “best American story,” which will honor work that “shows America at its best, open, and diverse.” (Filed under: Things that only feel like extreme political statements because of our extreme political climate.) All but one of the nominees are TV shows: Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, Jane the Virgin, and Transparent. The only movie in the running? Moonlight.
Genre is dead, long live #content
As MTV president Chris McCarthy told Vulture, “This audience actually doesn’t see male-female dividing lines, so we said, ‘Let’s take that down.’ They don’t see lines between theatrical releases and television — they just see it as great content — so let’s take that down,” McCarthy said. “And they don’t really care whether it’s scripted, reality or a theatrical release. They just want to celebrate great content.”
McCarthy doesn’t anticipate any outrage from the actors, either. “We’re seeing movie actors and actors from all categories leaning into TV and seeing it as a huge opportunity, and nothing other than just a great platform to do their craft,” he said. “Those lines have really come down, too. Actors and actresses go back and forth. We haven’t seen any tensions around that.”