‘I Can See Your Voice’ is impossible to describe

Sunday, September 27, 2020 - 5:10pm

I am unsure how to accurately describe the full depth and breadth of the emotional rollercoaster that is “I Can See Your Voice.” Upon first glance, it may seem like the kind of mindless, meaningless program that is the derivative of a derivative of other game shows. But when viewers surrender themselves to the pure pointlessness of this Fox series, something else emerges: pure, unadulterated joy.

“I Can See Your Voice” has maybe the most convoluted premise of any game show I have ever seen. An average person is given the task of determining who out of a group of six performers is a good singer and who is a bad one. The only way for them to discern who is vocally talented is to watch each performer lip sync a song that either they or an actual musician has pre-recorded. A panel of celebrity guests appears in each episode to help the contestant choose who is most likely to be a vocalist. 

Somehow, it gets weirder. The ultimate goal of the game is for the contestant to eliminate every member of the six original performers until only one person remains. If the last singer standing can hold a tune, the player wins upwards of $100,000. That’s right. You can win a hundred grand for pointing at a person and saying “Good!” or “Bad!” without any other skills or knowledge required, and the host, Ken Jeong (“The Hangover”), will hype you up the whole time while a handful of D-list celebrities cheer you on.

While “I Can See Your Voice” may make more sense as a parody in a dystopian show like “Black Mirror,” it is terrifyingly and unequivocally real. In an opulent and indulgent exhibition of late-capitalism, this new game show captures the current state of the American mindset. For shows like  “American Idol,” talent is rewarded with cash. For shows like “Jeopardy,” trivial knowledge is rewarded with cash. “I Can See Your Voice” rewards contestants for their ability to spectate, to judge performance with no qualifications.

It is incredibly easy to discount this series as a clone of “The Masked Singer.” But by the end of the most confusing forty-five minutes of my life, I was cheering out loud for the premiere’s winner. I got up out of my chair and yelled. Never before has a television show elicited such emotion from me. I had been sucked into the whirlwind of LED lights and fog machines that accompanied each of the show’s surprisingly suspenseful moments. “I Can See Your Voice” has overcome its own absurdity and emerged as a genuinely fun time.

This game show, while ridiculous, is something with such wide appeal and shallow premise that it, like a deeply entertaining yet harmless trainwreck, is almost impossible to look away from. When watched with a group of friends, “I Can See Your Voice” can be a great activity to pass the time with ridicule or genuine interest. When watched alone, “I Can See Your Voice” has a certain unspeakable quality that can hypnotize even the most critical of viewers.


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