After 44 years, the People’s Choice Awards moved from CBS to E!, getting not only a new network, but a new look, no host, and the full E! “Live from the Red Carpet” treatment. The stakes were high, too, because the show was broadcasting live across NBCUniversal’s cable networks, including Bravo, E!, Syfy, Universo and USA, and is on the air in 161 countries.
According to the announcers, over a quarter billion fans (that’s another way of saying 250 million) voted for the awards that spread across the categories of movies, TV, music, and pop culture. That turn out was thanks in part to the fact that voting was available not by paper ballot in a school cafeteria in the middle of a Tuesday, but online as well as on Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram. The People’s Choice Awards are also unique in that they don’t claim that their awards are for the “best” actor or “best” album, but rather the adjective free, bluntly-named categories of “Group of 2018” and “Reality Show of 2018,” showing that for better or worse, the PCAs truly are a popularity contest.
Here are the wildest, worst, and weirdest moments of the 2018 People’s Choice Awards:
Best Accidental Telethon: The awards show was held in Los Angeles, which just so happens to be on fire right now. It was also held ahead of Veterans Day and everyone wanted to pay tribute, so the stars used the awards show stage as a, well, stage. When Mila Kunis accepted the award for The Spy Who Dumped Me ,it was clear her mind was elsewhere. While she thanked the fans for the film, she also pointed out that California is in a state of emergency and asked fans to donate to the LAFD Foundation to help the firefighters battling the wildfires. GLOW star Betty Gilpin and Brooklyn 99 star Terry Crews expressed gratitude and appreciation for the vets and suggested donating to the Red Cross before giving Blake Shelton the award for Country Artist of 2018.
Best Thank You: Newly-minted late night talk show host Busy Phillips presented the award for Night Time Talk Show of 2018 with one well-deserved dig at the fact that no women are in the running for the award. The winner, wasn’t that shocking because it was also the host who happened to be mentioned in the show’s opening credits—Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show who was celebrating his 20th year at NBC and had a lot of people to thank, including “his rock, his better half, his soulmate, Justin Timberlake.”
Best Real Life Action Star: Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman and This Is Us star Susan Kelechi Watson present Black Panther’s Danai Gurira with the award for Action Movie Star of 2018, but Raisman had a heroic achievement of her own for helping bringing her abuser Larry Nassar to justice.
Biggest Clunker: Taran Killam, who has been working the award show circuit lately, claimed he was frustrated that he was not nominated for Female TV Star 2018, until he realized it was for “female” stars. (Is that even worthy of a sad trombone?) Anyway, Katherine McNamara of Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments won.
Best Technical Difficulties: Sarah Silverman missed the fact that the show had re-started not once, but twice, asking on-camera “Did it start?” and “Is it time, are we on?”
Most Awwww-inspiring Moment: While collecting his award for Male TV Star 2018 for his work in Shadowhunters, Harry Shum Jr. thanked his pregnant wife, calling her his “plus two” for the evening.
Most Noted Absence: Before Victoria Beckham accepted the People’s Fashion Icon Award, Amber Valletta introduced the designer with a lovely speech and a video tribute that called her “an influencer before it was a thing.” The one thing it didn’t mention? The fact that she got her start and fame as a Spice Girl.
Best Recovery: On stage, Beckham read off note cards explaining that she gave up “her microphone” ages ago. However, as she talked, she gave up, realizing that sometimes you just have to ”give ’em what they want, what they really, really want.“ And that is as much of a Posh Spice return as fans will probably get.
The Award For Most Restrained Camera Work Goes To: Cardi B was nominated for Best Female Artist and the persona manning the camera showed a great deal of restraint in refraining from cutting to Nicki Minaj to see her reaction to hearing her reported rival’s name.
Best Shout Out: While collecting her Female Artist 2018 award, Nicki Minaj gave a nod to Donatella Versace for making the bespoke gown she was wearing and a special “shout out to Michael B. Jordan ’cause he’s going to be taking it off me later.”
Most Honest Speech: “Thank you so much for this award,” said Melissa McCarthy accepting the inaugural icon award. “Thank you to everybody here and everyone that voted. Not just because you voted for me — because that would make me an insane narcissist — because it was so overwhelming and incredibly sweet of all of you.” Then she spent the rest of the speech complimenting Alison Janney, “She’s better than us and that’s okay”
Best Way To Get All The Kardashians To Kome To Your Awards Show: Host it on the channel that airs Keeping Up With the Kardashians! Khloe, Kim, and Kourtney Kardashian as well as Kendall and Kris Jenner all catwalked on stage to accept their award for Reality Show of 2018. Kim served as the family spokesperson and dedicated their win to the fans and to the firefighters working to save the family home in Calabasas, as the city is under a full evacuation order due to the fires.
Best Reunion Show: When The Voice won the rather bluntly-named award for Competition Show of 2018 current host Carson Daly and judge Blake Shelton came on stage to accept the award. However, since Shelton met his current wife and former The Voice judge Gwen Stefani on the show, she joined them on stage for half of an OG Voice reunion show, which was almost as exciting as BTS’s pre-recorded acceptance speech for “Group of 2018.” The bar is pretty low for excitement on this show.
Most Impressively Wide-Ranging Speech: Nicki Minaj’s second acceptance speech for the night, for Album of 2018, started with thanking God for his grace and ended by dedicating the award to “Kim Kardashian’s -ss in that dress.”
Best Mood-Altering Speech: After performing a U2 cover, John Legend presented the People’s Champion Award to Bryan Stevenson, a public interest lawyer, civil rights icon and author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. He took the selfie-snapping reality stars and took celebrities to church with a surprisingly rousing speech about ending hate in our lifetime that woke the audience up just in time for the show to end.