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What the departure of ‘TRL’ means
Measuring the pop cultural significance of MTV's long-running show
T

his is the “end of an era,” said Simon Vozick-Levinson in Entertainment Weekly online. On Sunday night, MTV’s TRL—or for the old school, Total Request Live—aired for the last time. “There was a time when that show meant a lot to me, in the way that only a television program you watch every single afternoon throughout your adolescence can”—I’m “not ashamed to admit that I came close to shedding a single rueful tear.”

TRL was “the American Bandstand” of “Gen Millennium,” said Robert Lloyd in the Los Angeles Times online. It was “never the place to turn if your thing was Wilco, Sigur Rós or Portishead,” but it “fed and channeled the mainstream—although a mainstream broad enough to include Britney, Christina, Diddy, Green Day, OutKast, Korn, Ludacris and the Jonas Brothers.”

TRL lasted 10 years, airing a total of 2,247 episodes, said Ben Sisario in The New York Times. But ultimately, the “old-fashioned video variety show” was “just a little too 20th-century to survive the YouTube age.” Among those in the music industry, “reaction to the show’s cancellation was mixed,” and most seem to have accepted it “as part of the natural evolution of popular culture.”

But TRL isn’t going away entirely, said Joseph Millares in ABC online, and in a sense, it’s evolving. The “countdown can still be found on MTV.com, where visitors can watch whole videos and post comments” —although, without a live “host or bevy of shrieking 15-year-olds.”

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