Warning! The following contains spoilers for The Masked Dancer episode that aired Wednesday, January 27. Read at your own risk!
The Masked Dancer has done enough to differentiate itself from The Masked Singer in the first half of Season 1, though it seems some things never change with competition shows. It seems that while dancing is the primary component of whether or not someone stays or goes on the show, there is an added-factor that keeps some competitors ahead of the pack in this competition. I felt this more than ever after seeing the elimination of The Hammerhead, feeling he was no better than one of the favorites of the competition: The Sloth.
I won't argue that The Hammerhead (who was revealed to be Jersey Shore's Vinny Guadagnino) wasn't one of the bottom performers of the latest episode, but I will protest that The Masked Dancer panel treated his performance much differently than The Sloth's. I think looking at The Sloth's latest Sinatra dancing performance, while entertaining from a comedic perspective, wasn't really all that impressive from a dancing perspective. The Hammerhead made some of the same key moves, but what he lacked was pizazz.
It got me thinking about what makes Sloth a favorite contestant as opposed to a contestant who survived the week by just the skin of his teeth. As I alluded to above, I think the way Sloth has injected a comedic personality into his character has gone a long way and helped mask whatever shortcoming he may have as a dancer in telling a story during performances. One masterful part in tonight's performance was where Sloth acted as if he pulled a hamstring and pulled his leg across the dance floor to keep up with the dancers.
A contestant being judged or critiqued on what they bring to the table beyond what the competition is about is something that has often irked me with The Masked Singer. It created a sense of unfairness in that show, where contestants who were objectively awful singers like Rob Gronkowski got by just by being a good time while real singing legends left the show.
I believe a contestant in The Masked Dancer can win over the audience in the same way, though I think upon witnessing it with The Sloth, I'm more okay with it. Dancing ability is already super subjective, and with the panel itself not necessarily consisting of people with dancing expertise, this show is about having fun. I can live with a contestant on this show skating by to the next week if they can win over the crowd with antics and have a solid if slightly mediocre dancing ability. Of course, I've yet to see this show knock down a contestant I've felt was incredibly talented, so maybe this is a take to revisit should that happen.