This show is bananas.
Listen, I tried to resist the siren call of The Masked Singer (FOX/Hulu). My best friend asked me way back at the start of season one if I was watching. “The show with the weird dog thing?” I scoffed. “Absolutely not.” And I didn’t watch it. I was one hundred percent uninterested. I don’t think I even knew or cared what the premise was, but I just kept seeing the dog costume billboard around town and was like HARD PASS.
But, as often happens in my house, I was tricked into watching, which is to say my daughter was watching it in the living room, and I happened to catch an episode. And then I had to watch more.
If you’ve never watched the show before, the way it works is that some celebrity dresses up in an elaborate costume that becomes their identity for the duration of the show (e.g., Poodle pictured above). Then, there’s a little biographical package about them that includes clues to their real identity. After that, they sing and then sometimes there’s a little back and forth with the host (Nick Cannon usually, but Niecy Nash subbed for him during the beginning of this current season because he had COVID) before the panel heaps effusive praise upon the masked singer and then tries to guess who the singer is by using a combo of the clue package and the singing. Then, at the end of the episode the studio audience (that is now an at-home audience of superfans) picks their favorite, and the person with the least amount of votes gets both unmasked and sent home. At the end of the season, the singer with the most votes in that episode wins the golden mask trophy.
The panel is comprised of Robin Thicke (musician/producer), Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg (pop culture expert), Ken Jeong (comedian), and Nicole Scherzinger (former Pussycat Doll). They all have their strengths, obviously, even Ken who is mostly just really good at picking up clues about sports figures. But Robin’s claim to fame is that he’s terrible at recognizing people he has actually worked with and Nicole’s is that she loves men who are six feet or taller. Ken is there for the comic relief, but Nicole is also really funny, mostly because she just says whatever she’s thinking like dismissing one panelist’s guess that a contestant was Queen Latifah by shaking her head and saying, “But Queen Latifah can sang.” You know, very clearly implying that said contestant was not on the Queen’s level (Nicole wasn’t wrong). If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be Nicole for that reason alone. Oh, and sometimes there are guest panelists like Joel McHale or Niecy Nash and once Jamie Foxx showed up.
Anyway, the fun of the show comes from trying to guess who the singer is and watching the panelists try to suss out the clues from the clue package. They pick up on stuff I’m never paying attention to but also sometimes miss really obvious clues, depending on your depth of pop culture knowledge. There was a contestant who kicked off her shoe in the clue package, and I am 99% sure every Black person watching the show knew exactly who it was but none of the panelists mentioned it!
My daughter and I have concluded that this means they need at least one panelist who is Black on the show AT ALL TIMES.
Also, there was another contestant who had several references to Hamilton in their package and not one of the judges picked up on that, and I figured out who the person was from that and those ding dongs were still guessing that it was Jamie Foxx. Spoiler alert: it was not.
(I am being vague here because spoilers, except for the Patti LaBelle thing because it was OBVIOUS. I mean, come on.)
So because the fun of the show is guessing just who the person is, sometimes even if the singer is, say, Patti LaBelle, once the audience kind of knows that and agrees with the panelists that’s who it is, that person might be voted off. Was there a singer on that season close to Patti’s vocals? Of course not. But once we all knew, it kind of took the fun out of it.
Now if the audience knows, but the panelists still haven’t figured it out, then you want the person to stay because you want to know HOW LONG until they get it. Like this current season, everybody on Twitter pretty much knows Piglet is Nick Lachey, but the judges have not guessed him yet. WHEN WILL THEY FIGURE IT OUT? It’s anyone’s guess.
The level of celebrity of the singers has shifted since the first season, so it’s also interesting to see who has chosen to participate in the first season vs. the later seasons. I think once it became clear that the show was celebrating the singers and not making fun of them more people were willing to participate. Oh, and quite a few singers on the later seasons said they did it because their kids/families love the show. So there’s also that.
The other best thing about the show is the costumes. They are EXQUISITE. One season they did a behind the scenes thing on the concept and design of the costumes, and they are truly magnificent. I tried to find some pictures, but honestly the pictures don’t even do them justice.
OMG and the dancers. The dancers are all masked (since the beginning) and the way they throw their whole bodies into these ridiculous routines. I just love them.
Oh, and the concept from the show came from South Korea, of course. See above re: it being bananas. Ken Jeong appeared on the South Korean show as a contestant, which is kind of cool to watch.
The point is that if you’re looking for something silly and fun, this is a great watch. All five seasons (including the current one) are streaming on Hulu, so if you decide to start this season so you don’t get spoiled, you always have the backlog to look forward to.
I, for one, cannot wait until the pandemic is over so I can go to a live taping of the show.
For this year’s A to Z Challenge, I have decided that I’m going to focus on comfort reads/watches as we enter our second (!) April in the pandemic. Tune in tomorrow to see what I choose for N!