Much like the year 2020, the New Year’s Eve television coverage by the networks was a socially distanced mess. With the coronavirus pandemic still raging, hosts emceed their shows from a practically empty Times Square. Performers took the stage in front of no audience, and interviews consisted of talking to the few essential workers who were invited to the not-so-festive environment.
On NBC, the New Year’s special was hosted by Carson Daly, Amber Ruffin and Stephen “tWitch” Boss. The broadcast featured live and taped performances from various artists including Jason Derulo, Goo Goo Dolls, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani. Ruffin kicked off the broadcast by saying, “I’m ready to say so long, farewell 2020 like a Von Trapp child at a cocktail party.” Most viewers probably felt the same way about the broadcast.
One of the strangest performances of the night came to us from Cyndi Lauper on ABC’s “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2021.” If you missed it, consider yourself lucky. Lauper joined Billy Porter, who was serving as one of the evening correspondents, in an off-key rendition of “True Colors,” followed by an awkward transition of Lauper saying, “I’m on camera, I’m on camera,” as her crew attempted to freshen up her look. Lauper then gave a short speech about “hope” and ended it by saying in a very serious tone, “I have hope,” before launching into her song “Hope,” a bizarre electronic dance number with her DJ jumping around in the background. The song and performance felt more like retirement-community karaoke night than “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.”
CNN and Fox both featured the same empty Times Square awkwardness and socially distanced interviews, but their audiences were lucky enough to avoid the Cyndi Lauper performance. Instead of appearing in person, most celebrities made their appearances by awkward prerecorded messages reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to 2021.
Let’s be honest though, no matter how rosy celebrities, hosts or anyone else wants to paint 2021, the pandemic is still raging, and this year is looking like it will be the sequel to 2020 instead of a fresh new start. So, here’s a toast to hoping 2022 is the year we can all finally move past all of this. As Cyndi Lauper would say, “I have hope,” and if you hear her say that, turn the channel before she goes any further.