It started as a placeholder—frivolous background noise to have on while chopping garlic. But then something changed. Maybe the singed winds of wildfires and melting icebergs blew through our window causing a chill or we finally had enough of this relentless Great American Tension Headache brought on by the news. Or maybe it was simply that my husband and I gained access to Hulu Premium (thank you, Sara). Whatever it was, whether or not we realized it, we were desperately seeking an escape when we stumbled into—and fell hard for—The Masked Singer.
To the readers rolling their eyes at this headline, believe me: I was once like you. After seeing a teaser for The Masked Singer on Fox, I thought, How $#&*!#@ dumb? What is wrong with our culture that The OA is canceled and yet this monstrosity of mediocre celebrity and spectacle gets prime-time positioning? Do we seriously need another B-list panel of Hollywood “names” to judge their same ilk? We put up with the Simon Cowell industrial complex for so long and all we got was Kelly Clarkson (worth it). Must we really tune in for more? And c’mon?! Nick Cannon has had enough screen time, right?! Right!?!?!
Wrong. I was so damn wrong. Let me explain.
The Masked Singer (the American version, at least) is a “game show” with very few (if any) stakes, where celebrities (and the celebrity-adjacent) take on larger-than-life alter egos in full costume (e.g., the Penguin, the Monster, the Leopard) to perform songs anonymously in front of a live audience and a panel of judges. No one, not even the crew working behind the scenes, knows who is who. The contestants “face off” against each other, and each episode has an elimination where the losing contestant is unmasked. The others move on and get to sing another song. The season culminates in one winner who gets a trophy.