It has less to do with who's going to win and more to do with who wants to sit with Taylor Swift

By Alex Heigl
Updated August 24, 2016 05:20 PM
Credit: Jeff Kravitz/MTV1415/FilmMagic

The seating arrangement at the MTV Video Music Awards is often half the fun of the award show. How would we get reaction GIFs of Taylor Swift dancing, or the secret love affair between Katy Perry and Rihanna?

Turns out, that magical arrangement is the result of a careful, months-long dance between MTV and the stars attending the VMAs.

MTV music and talent vice president Gina Esposito told Cosmopolitan that stars send requests to sit next to other artists, and the network will try to accommodate them because they know that stars who are friendly with each other will create good moments on-camera.

That also means, sadly, that there’s a lot of negotiating to be done around Taylor Swift and her ever-growing squad. “She has so many good friends,” Esposito said. “She’s often really requested.” (Swift wasn’t nominated for any VMAs this year, so maybe that problem solves itself this time around?)

That said, the team responsible for ticketing at the VMAs is also in communication with the show’s directors to make sure that the important folks are going to be in front of the cameras at crucial moments during the broadcast. “You’re looking at it for camera angles and whose reactions we might capture throughout the night,” Esposito said. “And the logistics that go into that are so insane. You have to be thinking about how long it’s going to take somebody, should they win, to get from the stage back to the dressing room if they’re performing three acts from now.”

And then, of course, there are times when artists will ignore their assigned seats, and like rowdy middle schoolers, simply go sit by their friends. The key then, Esposito said, is to just follow them and alter your shots around the new shooting arrangement. “As long as you’ve got eyes on that, to say, ‘Selena Gomez moved so she’s by Taylor, we’re good,’ then it’s all right.”

One dark secret? Aisle seats mean nothing, according to Cosmopolitan. Occasionally, you’ll see a tweet from someone in the venue before the show airs who’s convinced that so-and-so’s aisle seat means they’re destined for VMA triumph (so they can get to the stage easier), but that’s just not the case – all the aforementioned wheelings and dealings are what determine the aisle seats, not the evening’s eventual winner. (Or a person’s need for extra leg room.)

The MTV VMAs air this Sunday, Aug. 28, at 9 p.m. ET from N.Y.C.