Awards shows often take place amid distractions, from natural disasters to civil unrest to the aftermath of a high-profile death. Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards had to coexist with all three, not to mention a worldwide pandemic that made it impossible — and, in New York City, illegal — to assemble a live audience.

How did it go? Here are 10 takeaways.

1) The VMAs actually happened in 2020. You’d be forgiven if they’d slipped your mind, but MTV somehow made a performance-driven awards show without live crowds. The energy was weird and spontaneity was hard to come by — more on that in a moment — but they pulled it off, complete with lavishly staged performances by Lady Gaga, BTS, The Weeknd, Doja Cat, DaBaby, Miley Cyrus, Maluma, Black Eyed Peas and others.

2) It was a big night for Lady Gaga. The superstar took home the inaugural Tricon Award — “triple threat/icon”? — which is basically the equivalent of being inducted into the VMAs Hall of Fame. She put on a grand and game performance with a guest appearance from Ariana Grande, she won a bucket of other awards (Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Collaboration, Best Cinematography), she gave a bunch of speeches and she rocked a series of truly magnificent masks. It was her night.

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