TRL Is Returning to MTV in October

Carson Daly with Destiny’s Child in 2001, upon the release of Survivor. Photo via Getty Images.
Carson Daly with Destiny’s Child in 2001, upon the release of Survivor. Photo via Getty Images.

Carson Daly is now a suit-wearing anchor on the Today show and you haven’t spent a summer with the TV tuned to MTV since Dick Cheney seemed as bad as it could get, and yet they’re bringing back TRL, Total Request Live.

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The New York Times talked to Chris McCarthy, president of MTV, about the current state of things at the network. (In a word: beleaguered.) A centerpiece of their latest round of revamp plans is the retooled and returned TRL.

The original iteration — which featured a countdown of music videos, a studio audience and frequent appearances from star musicians — was, in a way, a throwback itself, an updated version of “American Bandstand.”

The newer version of “TRL” will initially run an hour a day, and Mr. McCarthy said that might grow to two to three hours a day as the show developed. (There will also be unique daily content for Instagram, Snapchat and other social media channels.)

MTV is hoping the “TRL” name is enough of a star. Mr. Daly will not return as host, and the network instead will rely on five co-hosts who are relatively unknown, including DC Young Fly, a rapper and comedian, and Erik Zachary, a Chicago radio host.

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But the setting—which was an essential part of the vibe of the original, allowing bored suburban preteens who couldn’t so much as drive to the mall to feel connected to the media creation that is New York City in the American popular imagination—will remain the same, and consequently MTV is working on “a massive studio facing Times Square” “in the hope of capturing the old magic.” Good luck to the cameramen responsible for making sure there aren’t too many desnudas’ bare curves in the shots.

“MTV’s reinvention is coming by harnessing its heritage,” McCarthy told the Times. But while TRL holds a very specific place in the hearts of millennials, we’re surely all racing toward the upper limit of MTV’s target demographic, and one wonders whether the concept has quite as much resonance for younger viewers. Does a show about requesting specific songs even make sense to a generation raised on streaming media? Guess we’ll see!

Senior Editor, Attic Haunter, Jezebel

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DISCUSSION

breakerbaker
BreakerBaker

I’m probably about a decade older than the median age of the readers of the site, so my perspective on MTV is probably more in line with being a child of the 90s, so maybe that’s the problem. But were people still watching MTV habitually once it was clear how terrible Dick Cheney was (a period I generally associate with the push toward the Iraq invasion). When I think of TRL, I think of it as an artifact from the mid to late 90s, not the aughts. When I think of MTV in the aughts, I think of a network that had given up most of what remained of the pretense that it was a place to watch music videos and more of a place to go to see the earliest forms of reality based soap opera (e.g., The Osbournes).