This year's lively Video Music Awards was a great comeback from last year's pre-taped special. But the ongoing pandemic was virtually ignored. "When Justin Bieber is the only person in a three-hour show to even allude to something that’s killed more than 600,000 Americans since the last live Video Music Awards, it’s a special that has very specific designs on being post-pandemic, whether we’re there yet or not," says Chris Willman. He adds: "The 2021 VMAs could have used a few more nods toward the grave crises in the world that are making its target demo so anxious about their future. Yet it was hard to deny that the show was sometimes at its best when it was at its silliest — and wish for even more of that old-school MTV humor, too. For better or worse, there was no attempt at scripted comedy, so any laughs came in the acceptance speeches." ALSO: VMAs avoided being serious -- a win for the "MTV agenda."