BET Awards will be a virtual affair

Amanda Seales will host this year's virtual BET Awards.
Amanda Seales will host this year's virtual BET Awards.Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/file

This ought to be something. On Sunday at 8, the BET Awards will proceed, but it will be a virtual affair because of the pandemic.

That means that even while there will be a host, as usual, and a roster of performers, as usual, the event will in some ways be the opposite of a usual awards show. There will be little to none of the mingling and interacting that generally turn these back-patting fests into pop cultural happenings, the kind of critical mass that can turn an arena into something powerful for a few hours.

Instead, thanks to a production based on what BET is calling “innovative techniques and artist-generated content,” the night will be a more intimate affair — in the way some of the late-night talk shows have become more intimate because of their home settings and low-tech approaches. There won’t be big applause and standing ovations, I’m assuming; just the glee of the winners, at home, maybe even pantsless.

Also adding distinction to this year’s show, which is the 20th anniversary of the awards and the 40th anniversary of BET: All of the Black Lives Matter activities that have rocked the country since the killing of George Floyd. It’s a particularly powerful moment for a celebration of Black culture and creativity. This year, the awards will air on BET’s corporate cousin, CBS, too.


Comic Amanda Seales from “Insecure” will host, and the list of the night’s performers include Alicia Keys, DaBaby, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, Lil Wayne, Usher, and Wayne Brady. Also, there will be a preshow — but, I assume, without a red carpet — at 7 p.m. on BET.

I’m also curious about “The 47th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards,” which are also going to be virtual this year, on CBS, Friday at 8 p.m. Will the ceremony be a daze of our lives?


Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.