Sorry to say, but last night’s 2012 Teen Choice Awards were probably the most underwhelming awards of the year. Around 9:30, with a half hour left, I realized that very little had happened aside from Demi Lovato awkwardly trying to convince us that she’s got her shit together; I missed half of the awards, and I was live-blogging the damn thing; and the outfits weren’t quite exciting enough to justify any galleries.
That said, don’t think me a total grump or the awards a total failure. What most impressed us were the decisions made by the producers to keep this late-season awards show bearable.
Lump in several awards at once: The only way that this show was going to come in at under two hours was if the producers grouped similar awards in the same acceptance speech. For instance, when The Vampire Diaries cast were named Choice TV Show: Fantasy/Sci-Fi, you also had the Choice TV Actor/Actress/Male Scene Stealer already up there to add in their thank-yous without getting redundant. Of course, in some cases this backfired, like when The Hunger Games took a bunch of awards but no one was there for it, or when the stunning upset of Alexander Ludwig beating Tom Hiddleston happened off-air… but overall, it was a smart move, because we didn’t care quite enough about these awards to sit through the same speeches over and over again.
Short acceptance speeches: Teens see through the bullshit of thanking every stranger you ever waited tables on, or even exhaustively listing your co-stars. And because it was kids’ clicks that got these awards, the winners smartly just thanked their fans and moved on.
Cut the banter: The presenters’ bits were blessedly short, as well. It was awkward enough to have Demi Lovato and Kevin McHale as co-hosts, but lazy jokes like Zooey Deschanel not knowing her way around texting shorthand with Selena Gomez shouldn’t even have found their way on the stage.
Selena Gomez’s birthday: It’s individual moments like these that are best remembered from awards shows, like when George Clooney made that great joke about Michael Fassbender‘s penis at the Golden Globes. Your teenage equivalent is the attendees singing “Happy Birthday” to Selena as they wheeled out a cupcake cake for her 20th birthday. They didn’t bring out Carly Rae Jepsen to belt out the song to her; it was a little more impromptu than that. And she seemed genuinely touched, so there you go.
Show kids having fun: Choice Comedian Ellen DeGeneres brought Sophia Grace and Rosie onstage with her, because she owes a lot of viral success to them. When Flo Rida was performing, the camera cut to Miranda Cosgrove singing along. This awards show isn’t for the twentysomethings, so it was smart to show the real audience and what the show meant to them. Because seriously, the looks on Sophia Grace and Rosie’s faces when they got their mini surfboards for Choice Web Star? Made my ovaries ache a little.
All in all, the TCAs reminded us of the younger sister of the cafeteria queen bee (here, the more seasoned and more fun MTV Movie Awards): They come from the same pedigree but are still a bit unpolished. Give ‘em a couple years, and they’ll be just as compelling.