Why Everyone Loves The Masked Singer

The show’s surrealist overtones make it impossible to look away from.

The Masked Singer is the hit of the season, with over 9 million people tuning in to the show’s premiere. At face value, the show appears to be ridiculous reality TV that borders on parodying itself, but the interactivity and otherworldly premise makes it instantly iconic.

Based on the Korean reality show King of the Mask Singer, The Masked Singer is really about everything but the singing itself. Presenting a coterie of absurd costumes (Deer, Lion, Monster, Peacock, Unicorn, Rabbit, Alien, Poodle, Bee, Hippo, and Pineapple), the singing competition/guessing game is the self-proclaimed weirdest show on television. With a twinge of self-awareness (host Nick Cannon asked Tommy Chong why he would put on a pineapple mask and sing “I Will Survive” after he was unmasked), the musical talent of the contestants is irrelevant; the secret to The Masked Singer’s success (and to guessing the celebrities correctly) is determining which celebrities would be on the show in the first place. The artistry of the masks/costumes and the sometimes hilariously bad vocals are just the icing on the cake. This game-within-a-game format makes the show more compelling than, say, Dancing With The Stars, because it embraces its status as a haven for B-list celebs (this also makes the panel’s presumptuous guesses of Barack Obama or Meghan Markle especially hysterical).

Celebrities that have been unmasked include former NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw (the Deer), actress Tori Spelling (the Unicorn), comedian Margaret Cho (the Poodle), and actress Ricki Lake (the Raven). Each had a dramatic reveal, featuring plenty of cutaways to the gaping faces of audience members and panelists. The true identity of the Rabbit, Peacock, Monster, Lion, Alien, Poodle, and Bee remain a mystery.  Though it definitely falls into the category of guilty pleasures, The Masked Singer is undeniably addictive. It retains the bizarreness of King of the Mask Singer but adds a distinctly American style, creating an infectiously fun reality TV classic.

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