By John Hanlon
In 2018, Ryan Reynolds shocked a crowd in South Korea when he took off a unicorn mask and revealed himself to be the singing performer on the stage. No, this wasn’t a deleted scene of Deadpool. It was an episode of the King of Masked Singer, a strange competition show that has now arrived in the United States.
Titled The Masked Singer, the American version of the show airs Wednesday nights on Fox.
The program’s concept is simple and strange. Each week, a set of costumed singers compete against each other in a singing competition. These singers are celebrities — presumably well-known in the fields of entertainment or sports — but neither the audience nor the judges know who they are. These performers are only identified when they are eliminated from the competition.
At the end of the opening episode for instance, Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown was revealed to be the singer in the hippo costume (yes, this show is as outrageous as it sounds).
Admittedly, the show has a ridiculous premise. The costumes are silly and over-the-top. To boot, the individual face-offs pit one singer against the other and the announcers promote these match-ups like a promoter calling a boxing match. In week one, for instance, the peacock faced off against the hippo while the monster took on the unicorn.
The show though seems to cherish its strange set-up and has fun with it. Hosted by Nick Cannon, the program never seems too serious. This is a show that recognizes how bizarre it is.
The judging panel is composed of actors Ken Jeong and Jenny McCarthy and two singers: Nicole Scherzinger and Robin Thicke. Before each masked performance, a short video offers clues about the singer’s true identity. After the performance, the panel comments on their onstage abilities and offers some guesses about the singer’s identity. For a show that strives to be silly though, some of the guesses are truly unbelievable (the judges guessed that Lady Gaga or Jimmy Kimmel might be behind one of the masks in the premiere episode).
At some point, one hopes that the show will attract top talent (and perhaps they already have). After Ryan Reynolds made an appearance on this program in South Korea, it does seem anything is possible. Who knows which celebrities would be willing to poke fun at themselves by donning a full costume and crooning out a well-known tune? For the time being, though, I expect many A-listers to wait and see how this first season pans out.
Part of the program’s fun is guessing who the celebrities really are. During the premiere episode, for instance, countless people were tweeting out their thoughts and the program itself became a trending topic.
It may seem silly to sit back and spend 60 minutes a week watching celebrities perform in strange elaborate costumes but the show’s colorful carnival-like atmosphere is quite entertaining. Fans of Dancing with the Stars will likely appreciate the extravagant performances and the show’s elaborate designs. Others may be turned off by the show’s abundance of personality, which seems to be bursting out of every scene.
However, if you’re looking for a silly fun way to spend an hour each week, Masked Singer will keep you entertained. Baffled. Perhaps even bamboozled. But definitely entertained.
The Masked Singer airs Wednesdays on Fox.