MTV is taking a rare break from Ridiculousness and Teen Mom OG marathons on Friday for something they are calling “Flashback Friday: Made in New York.” It’s a 24-hour block of classic Nineties programming like The Real World: New York, Yo! MTV Raps, The State, Diary: Pink, and the Pearl Jam and Nirvana Unplugged episodes. Midway through the day, they’re going to debut a new special entitled TRL’s Most Requested Moments hosted by La La Anthony.
At 5 p.m. they’re going to broadcast the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards. Everyone from Hole and Marilyn Manson to Dave Matthews Band and the Brian Setzer Orchestra played that year. Teen pop was just starting to break through to the mainstream and the Backstreet Boys performed “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” but the night really belonged to Madonna. She won Video of the Year and Best Female video for “Ray of Light” and kicked off the show by playing “Shanti-Ashtangi” from Ray of Light before bringing Lenny Kravitz onto the stage to help her rip through the title track. You can see the video above.
MTV airing vintage programming like this is a huge break from the precedent of the past few years. On Sunday, for example, they’re airing 46 consecutive episodes of Ridiculousness. If you haven’t seen it, that’s the show where Rob Dyrdek and a small panel watches videos of people inadvertently hurting themselves while attempting to pull off stupid stunts. It’s not that different from the fictional show Ow My Balls in Mike Judge’s 2006 dystopian classic Idiocracy. Nothing else is airing on MTV on Sunday. It’s just Ridiculousness.
Back in 2016, MTV launched the MTV Classic channel and promised to fill it with vintage shows like The State and The Real World. But the ratings were abysmal and within just a few months, they switched gears and started airing airing endless blocks of Nineties music videos and nothing else. It was a tremendous disappointment.
It’s unclear if “Flashback Friday” will become an ongoing thing on the main MTV channel. This first day is just a tiny, tiny sampling of the many wonders that have been stuck in their vault these past few years. But it’s a very good start. Any day that MTV airs two hours of The State, a Real World: New York marathon, Nirvana’s Unplugged, and not a second of Ridiculousness is quite fine with us.