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ABC's The Mole still holds up two decades later

  • Vox

    Hosted early on by a young Anderson Cooper, The Mole -- which ran from 2001 to 2004, returning in 2008 -- was "one of the few reality shows that let the viewer feel like they’re playing along with it. It’s now streaming on Netflix, ready for an entirely new audience to discover it," says Steffan Triplett, adding: "The Mole arrived at an interesting time in reality TV history: at the onset of American reality staples that still run today. Its first season aired only about five months after Survivor’s first season ended, and it predated The Amazing Race by eight months. There’s an apparent normalness to its cast and contestants that feels almost strange by today’s standards. There are no indications of desired social media fame (a la Bachelor in Paradise), and it feels less about having a big personality and more about the actual game. Jim, the light-grunge, out-as-gay 'helicopter pilot' is a standout of the first season, often showcasing admiration for the game in all its fun and difficulty. (In what seems ahead of its time, The Mole’s first season featured not one but two openly gay contestants.) And the final three have a dynamic chemistry that feels singular and too good to spoil. It all makes for a stakes-filled final stretch that’s one of the most satisfying viewing experiences I’ve ever had."

    TOPICS: The Mole, Anderson Cooper, Reality TV, Retro TV