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Alter Ego should've been weirder: How could a singing competition show that features holographic contestants be this dull?

  • "The long-prophesied future in which holographic performers replace real ones is here, according to Alter Ego, a singing competition that has amateurs inhabit CGI avatars," says Spencer Kornhaber of Fox's new reality competition. "But the viewing experience is not as bizarre or dystopian as you might expect: A wacky premise and judging panel (will.i.am, Alanis Morissette, Nick Lachey, and the 'musician, innovator' Grimes) just disguise the same schmaltz and strained belting that have been common on network TV ever since American Idol premiered in 2002. Sci-fi technology, we’re told, will help people be more like themselves—and Alter Ego’s dullness hints at the way that identity has become a suffocating concept in the 21st century." He adds: "Alter Ego’s concept would seem poised to celebrate pop’s joyful artifice—and even to push it further than it’s ever gone before. The show’s motion-capture tech, unfortunately, casts the uninspiring spell of 20-year-old Star Wars prequels. Contestants squeeze into sensor-studded bodysuits and then hop around while their characters—cartoonish humanoids that, to my untrained eye, are cruder and less compelling than what I’d expect from CGI in 2021—mirror them on camera. The effect is very Wizard of Oz, except that you’re absolutely supposed to pay attention to the person behind the curtain: The show spends as much time on the human backstories of the singers as it does on their singing. In saccharine biographical segments, Alter Ego suggests that afflictions as diverse as Crohn’s disease, shyness, and having a 'baby face' can be transcended with the same technique that gave us Jar Jar Binks." 

    TOPICS: Alter Ego, FOX, Reality TV