COVID struck audience-centric television in a major way. No audiences meant no rapport between spectators, contestants and hosts. One of those shows affected by the pandemic was the Fox hit The Masked Singer. The pandemic hit the singing competition series in a major way earlier this year But with conditions somewhat improving, the Fox show welcomed back live audiences for the first time in two seasons. Yet that doesn't mean the show or costumes bypassed the virus.
The Masked Singer is one of the few shows where audience participation is necessary, so the lack of an audience did affect the show’s vibe. Fox executive Rob Wade was mindful of this fact when new variants of COVID gained some traction. Wade said about the COVID resurgence hitting the popular singing competition:
This was our fourth Masked franchise within 18 months. It’s all the same crews and production people doing that. Every single one of those productions has been incredibly difficult for various reasons. The tough thing about this one is, we were obviously in a very good position in April, May, and then June the news starts to turn [regarding COVID cases in the country], and I think it caught everyone by surprise. Because obviously there was such a huge amount of people vaccinated. So, I think people dropped their guard a bit. And then obviously when that happened I think in all different forms of businesses and walks of life, COVID cases increased.
While the situation was surely overwhelming for everyone involved in The Masked Singer, Rob Wade seems to have a firm grasp on the status of COVID and how exactly it impacted the fan-favorite show. As Wade pointed out, the public at large did begin to let its guard down when cases begin to decrease. With this, it honestly isn't too surprising that Masked was affected in a less-than-positive way.
With the singing competition getting back to business as usual, Rob Wade is extremely excited for a beloved aspect return – the audience. This is sure to be a welcome change, considering virtual audiences have been used for the past couple of seasons. Wade said to Variety about having live audiences in the studio as COVID cases increased:
The audiences are actually something that we can control in a much more fundamental way, because the audience, we were fully vaccinated and tested every day. So as a group they were much less susceptible to infection than everyone else.
With the COVID outbreak on set, The Masked Singer’s production team had to scramble quite a bit. Of course, this period of time wasn't just intense for everyone on set but for the show’s network home network. According to Rob Wade, Fox was somewhat worried about how things would progress but apparently knew things were under control. And it sounds like all parties are more than ready to get back to normal:
I can’t tell you how hard it is to make when you’re sort of under the kind of pressures of this pandemic. So, I’m just relieved in many ways to be able to get brand new television back on the air in a way that actually and looks and feels like it did, maybe two years ago.
Let's be thankful that the show was mindful of the situation and took all the necessary precautions. With the return of audiences, The Masked Singer is poised to be a chaotic, fun and lively time just like in its previous seasons. Season 6 of the Fox series will premiere with a two-night event on Sep. 22 and 23 at 8 p.m. ET.