The Show: Wonderland
Host #1: Lizzo (a.k.a. Melissa Jefferson), singer, SC: @Lizzobesnappin
Host #2: Myke Wright, comedian, IG: @Mykewright
Host #3: Steak (a.k.a. Rachael Finley), "culture vulture," SC: @Steaksnap
The Performers: Tinashe, Ty Dolla $ign, Broods
The Place: Imperial Arts Studios in downtown Los Angeles
MTV's newest show, Wonderland is giving us major TRL nostalgia. For the uninitiated, Total Request Live was an MTV series that had a magnificent run from 1998 to 2008. It featured top 10 music video countdowns, special guest performances, and a live audience—and we loved every second of the boy band hysteria and Carson Daly-hosted goodness. But Wonderland? It has the potential to reinvent MTV's live music tradition for the digital era.
The first season of Wonderland, which was co-developed with Comedy Central, will consist of 10 hour-long episodes of various musical performances. But Wonderland isn't just a TV show—behind-the-scenes looks documenting the process can be seen in real time on MTV's Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, as well as special after-show videos on Facebook Live and MTV.com after every episode.
We chatted with Lizzo, one of Wonderland's three hosts, about vegan pizza, the dangers of live television, and what to expect from the premiere.
Congrats on the show, Lizzo! Are you excited?
I'm super excited. We have a full day of rehearsals and blocking ahead, so I'm literally putting on blush in the car on the way to the studio as we speak. It's crunch time.
Did you ever think you'd one day be hosting an MTV show?
No, I never thought that that would happen to me! I was always more like, "So, when am I going to be the first chair flautist in the Boston Pops Orchestra?" I've auditioned for a lot of scripted dramas, comedies, and short films—but this was a music show, so it felt the most appropriate for me. Sometimes you've just got to follow the universe's plan.
How well do you know your co-hosts, Steak and Myke Wright? Have you been able to spend any time with them before the show?
Yeah, too much time. Just kidding! Steak and Myke are quickly becoming my best friends. We spent a lot of mandatory time together at first, but now that's turned into quality time. We all have different backgrounds and different tastes, but they all complement each other really well.
Steak took me to a dive bar last night and was like, "You're going to eat this vegan pizza, because it's the best vegan pizza in L.A." I tried it and I'm like, "You're cool, because I wouldn't have ever known about this." And Myke and I go and roast people at clubs. We all have a really good bond, which I think MTV guessed when they put us together. They didn't want to fabricate anything, so if we didn't get along this well, it wouldn't have gone down this way.
"I love live music. That's where music begins and where it thrives."— Lizzo
As a musician yourself, what do you think is the biggest difference between live music performances and pre-recorded ones?
I love live music. That's where music begins and where it thrives. Recorded performances trap music, but music is organic and alive. That's what Wonderland is doing: It's capturing music in its natural habitat.
Did you ever watch MTV's TRL?
Yes, girl, you know I watched TRL! That was my show. There were so many people on it, like *NSYNC, and I just remember wishing I could be in Times Square when my favorite artists were performing. It was such a moment in history, and it's still a reference for people who are making music now. That culture of pandemonium, every week only having one number-one spot—that competitive nature is definitely still resonating with artists today.
Who are you most excited to see perform at the premiere?
I'm really excited to see Ty Dolla $ign—he's extremely talented. But the beauty of Wonderland is that we have artists like Tinashe, who is going to be a treat for us to watch, and then also bands like Broods from New Zealand who I personally had never heard of before the show. We get to discover and appreciate other genres of music, too.
"The number-one critique of MTV is, 'Where is the music?' Here it is."—Lizzo
Have you been learning any live TV tricks in case something goes wrong?
Yes, they teach us things like, "OK, this is the panic word." For me, though, I'm on stage in front of people all the time and I'll forget the words or somebody will run on stage, so I'm pretty equipped to handle this party. We're going to make the best of this live situation.
So, why should we tune in?
Because Wonderland is about to do something that hasn't been done in a long time. The number-one critique of MTV is, "Where is the music?" Here it is.
Turn up your volume and watch the trailer for the brand-new series above!
Catch Wonderland on Thursdays at 11 p.m. EST across all MTV platforms—don't miss it!