The hit Fox reality show returned for Season 4 on Wednesday night doing what Jimmy Kimmel did during the Pandemic Emmys: fake an audience. Except while Kimmel made it clear his audience was fake, The Masked Singer used a combination of background actors, CGI and recycled footage of crowds from previous seasons to make it seem that a full audience had gathered to watch the reality competition. Executive producer Craig Plestis told Variety the purpose was to bring a sense of normalcy. “I think we’re all exhausted being on Zooms every day and so is the average viewer," he said. "The last thing they want to have is watch a TV show that looks like work. Our mission was to try to make it as familiar as possible and to go back to old school." The problem, says Reality Blurred's Andy Dehnart, is that making the show look like it has a normal audience sends a wrong and dangerous message. "Why did they go to all this effort? Are they really convinced viewers at home need a laugh track in the form of people clapping and cheering, to see people reacting in order to know how to react themselves?" says Dehnart. "And why, exactly, did Fox think it was a good idea to project the image of people gathered normally, sitting next to strangers indoors for hours, yelling and screaming and applauding and turning to each other to nod and exhale virus particles? A Johns Hopkins study released this month found that strict physical distancing = 'much lower chance of infection.' Bizarrely, Fox executive Rob Wade actually bragged about this to Deadline: 'The one thing I’m expecting is for people to say is ‘How come they’re not covɪd friendly? The audience aren’t wearing masks.’ Through various quarantining and various camera tricks, we’ve managed to do it. Congrats on lying so well. Maybe you’ll cause some deaths as a result and can brag to Deadline about that in a month or so! Fox did use its Emmy campaign to promote the show and mask wearing by putting masks on various L.A. icons. Why not continue that messaging in the show? Maybe even brag about not having a studio audience? Or put masks on some people who were spread far apart?"