I miss the old The Masked Singer format. Guessing who was behind the mask over several weeks is part of the show’s charm. It’s true that identities are revealed pretty quickly on the internet, no matter HOW vague the produces make the clues. But is that a bad thing? People who want to play along with the show can work to avoid spoilers. And even if a celebrity’s identity is clear, it’s still fun to play along with the clues over several weeks.
The new format flips the script. Instead of eliminating one or two celebrities, and advancing everyone else, the show reveals only ONE WINNER per episode. In other words, two or three NEW celebrities are eliminated every week.Also, instead of 4 0r 5 celebrities performing each week it’s cut down to 3 (4 on the premiere). The rest of the hour is comprised of filler, and performances from celebrity guests.
The problem is that episodes no longer hold any tension. Sure a bunch of celebs will be unmasked, but fans have barely met them, or had time to consider who they are, so who cares about them! The season is split up into 3 rounds, each one ending with one celebrity emerging as the “King or Queen of The Masked Singer.” The first round featured the incredible Harp. And if you don’t want to know…stop reading.
The Harp’s Identity is a no brainer
The Harp is Amber Riley, which any Glee fan can tell you. She’s not attempting to disguise her voice or body language either. The first clues were very obvious. Half way through her first clue package, when she referred to losing a spot “on the biggest show on television” only to get her big break later. Well duh. American Idol turned her away at 16. Five or so years later she landed the role of the fabulous teenaged diva, Mercedes Jones on FOX’s musical dramedy, Glee.
There have also been obvious references to her role on NBC’s The Wiz Live!, Dreamgirls on the West End, Todrick Hall’s Straight outta Oz and more. She also won Dancing with the Stars in 2014. YAWN! She’s a wonderful singer, her performances are enjoyable, but where is the mystery?What’s worse, producers set her up as a ringer. She competed against the likes of William Shatner, the brothers from The Brady Bunch, and the non-singing ventriloquist Jeff Dunham. The judges pick the winner out of the bottom two, and every week it seems fixed. Probably because it is.
Is The Masked Singer Rigged? Probably
There are two more “rounds.” Hopefully the producers have rigged the contest so that a Queen or King is knocked out by a competitor. And when I say “rigged”–it seems obvious that the producers have their thumbs on the elimination scale. It’s not a scandal. The studio audience and judges (Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong, Nicole Scherzinger) “determine” the winner. It would be a vastly different story if viewers at home chose who stayed and who went home. There are no stakes in winning The Masked Singer for the celebrities, other than bragging rights.
Why would The Masked Singer producers change the format so drastically? When the series debuted in 2019, it was the highest rated non-sports show on television. Four years and eight seasons later, the numbers have come back down to earth. The Masked Singer and The Voice both average about 0.7 in the 18-49 demo, where in The Masked Singer’s early seasons, it smashed everything. Possibly, FOX feels drastic shakeups will keep the show from going stale. The ratings probably also account for producers casting controversial and disgraced Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani (It’s likely FOX leaked the casting to Deadline for advance publicity).
What worked best: Dividing the celebrities up into three individual rounds, but allowing a competition to spill over into several weeks, EVEN if only one singer emerged at the end of the round. A new crop of celebrities, for each of three rounds, with wildcards thrown in, kept a flow of new celebrities to figure out all through the competition. Bring back that format, FOX!