The Mole was a cult classic reality game show in the 2000s that was way ahead of its time, and it has now been rebooted by Netflix. The new season features everything that made the original series great, such as the double-crossing and the whodunit mystery.
And while some fans have criticized the new season for lacking the same aesthetic, it improves on the earlier seasons in many ways too. Between host Alex Wagner keeping audiences entertained, the amount of money Netflix clearly threw at the show, and omitting what slowed the original series down, Netflix’s The Mole is a much leaner product.
Alex Wagner Is A Better Host
In the original series, Anderson Cooper was the host for the first two seasons. Cooper was oddly reserved for a host, and he had an approach where he would keep quiet, so the contestants would keep rambling. It worked well at points, but there were a few too many awkward silences, and that’s why Alex Wagner nails it as the host.
Wagner doesn’t make it all about herself, which is what the hosts following Cooper did, and she’s reserved so that the spotlight is still on the contestants, but she nudges them whenever necessary. She comforted the contestants and clearly threw in her own ad-libs, which always landed well, and she seemed genuinely enjoyed being the host. Of all the best reality show hosts who were replaced, in this instance, Cooper not returning isn’t the worst thing that could have happened.
Just like every Netflix release, whether a reality show or fantasy series, the shots look phenomenal. The Mole is clearly shot with the best high-definition digital cameras, which is perfect for a series like this, as it shows off the beauty and nature of the exotic locations.
The original show’s seasons were also set outside the US, mostly in picturesque European locations, and while it looked entirely different from any other game show, those 20-year-old cameras recorded a much grainier image. And not only does the series have a glossy sheen to it, but between the contestants’ house in the middle of the jungle and the giant set pieces, Netflix has typically spared no expense.
The format of each episode in the earlier seasons was uniform, as they featured a couple of challenges before the test and the elimination. However, Netflix has flipped that on its head and episodes can end at any time. The test and the elimination usually arrive midway through the episodes, and the episodes then end on a cliffhanger in the middle of a challenge, and it’s way more exciting that way.
However, as a common criticism of Netflix is that subscribers can binge a show in just one day, this is the perfect example of why Netflix should release episodes weekly. If The Mole episodes were released weekly, fans would be debating the cliffhanger for seven days, and it’d build hype too. Through word-of-mouth, more viewers would catch up and tune in each week. The Mole is one of the best shows to watch on Netflix this month, but Netflix could have made that excitement last for months.
Between the globetrotting and not having elimination votes, The Mole was way ahead of its time as a reality show, but one of the series’ unique tools was the exemption. Players would receive an exemption from the quiz and from being eliminated if they completed a secret mission, and that mission was almost always to sabotage the challenge and keep money from being added to the pot.
In the 2022 reboot series, exemptions play an even bigger role. Where they were only peppered throughout the seasons in the original series, in the Netflix show, there’s one, and sometimes even two, every episode. That makes for way more sabotages, and it makes it less obvious who the mole is too.
Giving A Player Second Chance
In the new series, after Dom was eliminated he was given the chance to return to the game providing that he successfully complete another challenge. He could only complete the challenge with the help of his former teammates, and it was the best challenge that questioned the contestants’ morality.
Dom was the person who was most actively trying to add money to the pot, but if he was brought back, that meant the other contestants would be at a disadvantage. It’s an interesting dilemma that the original series never tackled. Unfortunately, Dom didn’t successfully complete the challenge, as it would have totally changed the group dynamic.
The Survival Aspect
Netflix’s The Mole is similar to Survivor in a lot of ways, as it throws the contestants into some rough living situations. Even though they live in a modern and lavish house for the duration of the show, there are sent on some tough, overnight excursions.
In the very first episode, before they move to the house, they are forced to survive in an Australian forest, and midway through the series, they must survive the night in an empty and cold warehouse. The original series contestants never had to worry about where they’d be sleeping each night or what they’d get bitten by, as they moved between the most luxurious European hotels every few days.
It Has A Comedic Edge
The original series was so stoic and free of almost any kind of humor. The contestants barely even shared a half-smile after winning large sums of money. It was massively comedic when it came to the celebrity series, but it was way over the top and goofy that hardly anybody cared about the stakes or the game at hand.
However, Netflix’s The Mole has much more of a comedic edge, and it’s well-balanced with the tone so that it doesn’t distract from its main purpose. Whether it’s Joi’s “s***hole mole” gambit or any one of Will’s ridiculous reaction shots while eating food, the editing totally played into the humor of it all, but it still maintains the drama.
It’s Less Of A Reality Show
A lot of the original series spent time in the contestants’ hotel rooms and following them as they formed coalitions with one another. While it was interesting, it led to too many over-the-top arguments that felt played up for the camera. It was time away from the big appeal of The Mole, and it often felt more like Big Brother than anything.
Thankfully, whether those moments were filmed or not, they have been omitted from the new season. There are far fewer reality show moments, and the drama is mostly left in one scene in each episode, which is the dinner before the quiz. Outside of that, it’s free of forced drama.
More Physically Demanding Challenges
The Mole challenged contestants mentally, especially as it made them question what’s the truth and what’s a lie, and that made it unique from any other game show. However, while the original series did feature daring stunts, such as bungee jumping and walking on hot coals, it wasn’t all that physically challenging.
Netflix’s The Mole completely changes that, as it introduces extremely physically demanding games into the series. The new season makes contestants run 10 miles in 90 minutes while hunting for money packages, and it forces them to climb snowy mountains carrying huge ice cubes that must weigh around 50 pounds. The amount of mentally challenging tests and physically challenging tests are well-balanced.
The Choice Of Mole
In the original series, when it came to choosing the mole, the production team selects one of the contestant applicants, and that’s no different with the new season. However, in the first few seasons and especially in the celebrity seasons, it was obvious who the mole was, both from the audience’s and the contestants’ perspectives.
By the time it got to the final three in each season, the two contestants knew who the mole was, and they were simply racing against time to complete the final quiz. But in the new season, the final two contestants had completely different answers about whom the mole was. Halfway through the season, Kesi (the mole) was voted as the most trusted person in the group, making her the best mole yet.