It’s Time to Stop Worrying and Love ‘The Masked Singer’
What better reprieve could there be during 2020 than a reality competition show with an undeniably cursed aura?
Friends, this is the week your life could change forever. You could open a new door, turn over a new leaf, start a new chapter and all that—and in doing so, give yourself the greatest gift possible in these dark times. This week, I am imploring you all to watch The Masked Singer.
Fox’s singing showdown doesn’t need too much evangelism; it does good ratings and is widely known as that weirdo show with a distinctly cursed aura. For the uninitiated: The show finds various celebrities donning extravagant costumes and belting out ballads before a panel of judges who try to guess who they are. (In a joke that never gets old, the judges tend to guess people who wouldn’t be caught dead on the program.)
For those of you who haven’t sampled the strange delights The Masked Singer has to offer, I’m going to take one more stab at luring you over.
There’s no denying that The Masked Singer and its sparkly, feathered, furry menagerie give off some real dystopian vibes. But in 2020 even more than when it debuted, that’s... kind of part of the draw. What better than a reality-competition show that feels almost like a Black Mirror episode? It’s fitting!
And on top of that, the show delivers some real “moments”—like T-Pain’s much-deserved win in Season 1 as “The Monster,” a wonderful epilogue to an early career spent being unfairly maligned as “the autotune guy.” (He also beat out Joey Fatone, who competed as The Rabbit because of course he had to be in the mix!)
Another accomplished performer? Patti LaBelle, who showed up in Season 2 as “Flower”—and didn’t even win! Neither did Destiny’s Child alum Michelle Williams. In fact, they both got beaten out by Ana Gasteyer, who went home just after they did—as well as season winner Wayne Brady!
The Masked Singer casting operates a lot like Dancing with the Stars, folding together a blend of weak contestants and absolute ringers and shrouding them all in sparkly, eye-popping costumes for our amusement. But unlike DWTS, which has increasingly turned to controversial casting choices to build intrigue, The Masked Singer focuses on joy.
There’s no incentive for The Masked Singer producers to cast someone we all hate as a troll; their real identities, after all, will only be revealed after they leave. So instead it’s a mix of game, if somewhat thirsty celebrities and pseudo-celebrities—a welcome respite from the Carole Baskins and annoying politicians of the world who seek to overplay their 15 minutes of fame. (With one exception.)
But the biggest reason to watch The Masked Singer will always be the costumes—courtesy of costume designer Marina Toybina’s colorful and at times terrifying imagination. Some of Toybina’s characters are regal and stunning—like her golden Season 1 lion. Other times, she pumps out a fuzzy green string bean and names it “Thingamajig,” leaving us all to scratch our heads.
This year’s “Thingamajig” is “Whatchamacallit”—an icy blue take on Cousin Itt of Addams Family fame. This season’s other players will include the show’s first paired costume, Snow Owls, along with a very dapper, rococo-style giraffe, a pink crocodile in a boa, and a Venetian masked “Sun.” Just do yourself a favor when you tune in and don’t stare directly into it for too long.