Do you remember last year when Ryan Reynolds was promoting Deadpool 2 he went on a show in South Korea and sang "Tomorrow" behind a unicorn mask? That was a crazy sentence and I’ve read it back several times not quite believing it happened – but it did. It actually happened. And now there’s an American version of that show (the original is King of Masked Singer) called The Masked Singer that premiered last night and I turned it on 15 minutes in and could not stop watching.
It’s f-cking batsh-t. The judges aren’t great. The person who ended up getting “unmasked” was a shrug. And I knew it would be a shrug, even though they’re promising Grammy and Emmy award winners among the animal performers (!!!), but I still had to keep going. Part of it, sure, is because right now, at the beginning of January, after a long-ass year and looking ahead to what feels like another long-ass year, programming like this feels like a relief, one that you’ll probably regret later, but in the moment, you’re too stupid to know. But also? For someone of my generation, there’s something about The Masked Singer that wants to be the modern now version of Battle of the Network Stars or Circus of the Stars. For those of you who weren’t alive back then, Battle of the Network Stars was like the Olympics, with big stars from each of the big three networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC, competing in athletic events. Circus of the Stars was all kinds of stars, from movies and television, doing sh-t like trapeze and juggling and high wire on a bike. At some point, appearing on Battle and Circus became low-classy. But there was a time when it wasn’t embarrassing. And I wonder if we’ve kind of come back around to that with shows like Dancing with the Stars, Lip Sync Battle, and now…The Masked Singer.
Most singing competition shows on TV involve people who aren’t famous singing for their chance to become famous. The Masked Singer involves people who are already a certain degree of famous who want to become even MORE famous by hiding – initially anyway – their intentions behind a mask, literally. The grotesqueness of fame is often obscured by the glamour of celebrity, their beautiful bodies, their perfect faces. Here’s a show that just might costume fame, or at least the pursuit of fame, as realistically as we’ve ever seen – in order to achieve it, you must assume whatever shape necessary, however outlandish, however absurd, to the point of being unrecognisable.
Yours in gossip,