Last night was the first season finale of FOX’s The Masked Singer, a celebrity competition series that has captivated the hearts and minds and millions. Is it because of the “all-star” panelists? Of course not, because they and their horribly uneducated guesses — especially the ones that come from self-appointed “pop culture guru” Jenny McCarthy — are the actual worst part of the entire series. Is it because of the challenging mystery that comes from those singers who are masked? No, because actual pop culture gurus — or at least anyone with a working knowledge of pop culture, basic attention to detail, and a realization of the level of “celebrity” a show like this could even get — figured out who each masked singer was by week three. Is it because we all love mindless television, as much as we all try to seem cool and hip to the prestige television of today?
That’s definitely closer to the truth, but the actual reason is this: The Masked Singer understands what more television shows should understand—the key to a hit show is elaborate costumes and voice modulators. And not just a hit show. A great show.
Is The Masked Singer a great show? Yes, because it has elaborate costumes and voice modulators. This is a concept that obviously worked for Scream 3, it worked so well for The Masked Singer that it got renewed for a second season, and it can work for so many shows in the future. And not just competition shows, either. Here are a few.
USA Network’s Temptation Island reboot was also just renewed for a second season, which means there’s still time to implement this new strategy and actually make it a good show. In this new version, the sexy singles are the ones in the elaborate costumes, which really makes the temptation game harder to play. As for the people in relationships? They have the voice modulators. Early promotion for Temptation Island had USA pretty heavily pretending that the point of this show was a journey of self-discovery for people in doomed relationships. It got over that pretty quickly and leaned into promoting it as the trash it is, which is actually something to respect. But if USA wanted to try to actually go with the self-discovery route for season two, what better way to do it than to make the temptresses and tempters work underneath the shroud of creepy animal (real and fake) or creature costumes while the ones questioning their relationships don’t even have their real voices? That’s deep, somehow.
This would also include the mystery component of The Masked Singer, which isn’t actually necessary when a show gets on the elaborate costume and voice modulator train but would certainly work for this show, which is really just Are You The One? for people who didn’t get cast on Are You The One?. (Yes, the original Temptation Island happened long before Are You The One? came around, but the times have changed. Also, Are You The One? should have elaborate costumes and voice changers.)