Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Lots of celebrities are taking their show ideas straight to Instagram

Clockwise: Miley Cyrus ( Amy Sussman), Hey, Human logo (courtesy of SoulPancake), H.E.R. (Paras Griffin), Lana Condor and Noah Centineo (Charley Gallay) Instagram logo (Carl Court), and Swizz Beatz (Mike Coppola)
Clockwise: Miley Cyrus ( Amy Sussman), Hey, Human logo (courtesy of SoulPancake), H.E.R. (Paras Griffin), Lana Condor and Noah Centineo (Charley Gallay) Instagram logo (Carl Court), and Swizz Beatz (Mike Coppola)
Image: Getty Images

It’s been a weird year. As the COVID-19 crisis continues to completely halt life as we once knew it, finding small sources of comfort and connection are now burgeoning on critical. If we can’t escape to a movie theater, rely on new television, or even just hang out at a friend’s house, creativity—whether it come from within or at the hands of others—will be the key to maintaining some semblance of sanity.

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Many artists-slash-fellow shut-ins have used their immense platforms to entertain the masses any way they could. DJ D-Nice set the standard for in-home dance parties with his marathon DJ sets (dubbed “Club Quarantine”) via Instagram’s live function, which garnered the attention of everyone from Ellen Degeneres to Michelle Obama. Charli XCX started isolation livestreams where she chats with some of her famous friends. They both have been fine ways to pass the time, and more and more celebrities are following suit, using this moment to try their hands at hosting. What’s more, the few that go a step beyond the “famous people talking to each other” model actually have the potential outlast the crisis as they draw in massive crowds and quiet interest from a few circling networks. (Whether that’s a good or bad thing remains to be seen.) Check out the running list of some of the shows that have had to skip the studio greenlight process and head straight to the ‘Gram (and in one case, Facebook Live).


Bright Minded: Live With Miley

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Since March 21, Miley Cyrus has been converting her gargantuan, 106 million-strong following into a test audience for her talk show, Bright Minded, where she chats with other major celebrities about—her words, mind you— “how to stay lit during dark times.” But before you groan too loudly, the space has actually proven to be one of healing for some. During last Friday’s finale, fellow pop starlet Selena Gomez joined Cyrus on the virtual couch to talk openly about her bipolar diagnosis. Past guests also included Kerry Washington, Zoe Kravitz, and Diplo. Episodes are currently available on her Instagram page.


Verzuz, from Swizz Beatz and Timbaland

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It started as a friendly battle between two prolific friends with an impressive roster of hits underneath to each of their names. After megaproducers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland swapped crowd favorites for one night, they called on other hit-making friends to do the same. Each weekend fans have front row seats to battles between the likes of Ne-Yo and John Austin, Scott Storch and Manny Fresh, and The-Dream and Sean Garrett. Last weekend’s event, which centered T-Pain and Lil’ Jon, peaked at an astronomical 280,000 viewers and ended with a peek at a soon-to-be-released track featuring Usher and Ludacris called “Sex Beat.” A “Ladies Edition” of the series is supposedly in the works, but as either of the originators will tell you, no paperwork has been signed as of yet. In the meantime, you can check out clips from past battles on Swizz’s page and look out for this weekend’s digital face-off between RZA and DJ Premier. If anything, it’s a great way to spend a Saturday night if you happen to like screaming, “Hey, I remember this!” every three minutes. Considering the number of brands, networks, and one admittedly drunk streaming platform that were present at last weekend’s session, we can’t imagine coming out of the other side of this crisis without some official adaptation of this making it to TV screens in the future.


Hey Human! with Rainn Wilson

Illustration for article titled Lots of celebrities are taking their show ideas straight to Instagram
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The Office’s Rainn Wilson interviews people famous and otherwise on Hey, Human, a web series the actor streams via the Instagram account for his media company, SoulPancake. “If this crisis has taught us anything it’s that we’re all human beings sharing a struggle as well as a planet,” Wilson said of the show (via ET Canada). “Hey, Human is about humans connecting with (sometimes random) humans about our shared humanity in inhumane times. Let’s talk. Connect. Uplift each other. Get deep occasionally and share a laugh too! Also, I mean what else are you going to do?” Celebrity guests have included The Office’s Angela Kinsey and Oscar Nunez, as well as musical artists like Noah Cyrus and Finneas “FINNEAS” O’Connell, but Wilson often chats with fans to get a sense of how they’re coping in this time of social distancing. New episodes drop every weekday at 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT.


Girls With Guitars, created by H.E.R.

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Every week, two-time Grammy winner H.E.R. will take to Instagram Live to remind viewers that she is one of the best musicians in the current landscape with her new series, Girls With Guitars. It’s an opportunity to watch her and fellow female guitarists jam, converse, and connect. The first live session took place last Monday, April 6.


You Are Here, from JB Smoove

You Are Here is described as a “weekly stay-at-home digital variety show,” but JB Smoove’s new series features plenty of in-depth conversations, too. The show kicked off in late March with an all-star roster that found the likes of Billy Idol and Melissa Etheridge belting some tunes, while the latest episode finds Smoove checking in with Cedric the Entertainer and his Curb Your Enthusiasm co-star Susie Essman. Episodes stream via the show’s website and Facebook page.

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Wanna Talk About It? by Netflix

Illustration for article titled Lots of celebrities are taking their show ideas straight to Instagram
Image: Charley Gallay (Getty Images)
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Netflix is calling upon the young casts of its burgeoning slate of YA content to round out Wanna Talk About It?, a weekly live series on Instagram that focuses specifically on how today’s youth are handling COVID-19. Noah Centineo, star of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and its sequel, will swing by tonight’s episode to discuss self care with Dr. Ken Duckworth, chief medical officer at the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Other stars lined up for appearances are The Kissing Booth’s Joey King, Stranger Things’ Caleb McLaughlin, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’s Lana Condor, 13 Reasons Why’s Alisha Boe and Ross Butler, and Cheer breakout Jerry Harris. All of them will be speaking with mental health experts from Mental Health America, The Trevor Project, and other organizations. Episodes will run every Thursday at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET through May 14.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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