A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the Hulu original reality series Behind the Mask features a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into being a sports mascot and what being a mascot means to the people who play them. Teens should be able to handle the content, but it does include some discussions about divorce, bullying, and fatherhood, as well as some sexual innuendo, sexy dancing, and mildly crude references. Some mascots perform dangerous stunts, and viewers of all ages should be reminded never to try the stunts they see here at home.
What's the story?
BEHIND THE MASK is a reality series about four young men who dedicate their time lifting the spirits of sports teams and their fans. It stars Michael Hostetter, who is Lebanon High School's mascot, "Rooty the Cedar Tree," and Jon "Jersey" Goldman, who has been University of Nevada in Las Vegas' mascot, "Hey Reb," for six years. It also stars professional mascot Chad Spencer, who hopes to go from semi-pro hockey mascot "Tux the Penguin" to mascotting for an NHL team. Rounding out the group is Kevin Vanderkolk, an award-winning professional mascot who wears the Bango suit for the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks. From being a celebrity while in costume to balancing their anonymous lives and their health when their masks are off, each of them share the joys and challenges they experience when working hard to energize the people around them.
Is it any good?
Behind the Mask offers a personal look into the lives of folks who have chosen mascotting as a way of life. It highlights how central mascots are to sports culture, no matter how goofy they may seem. It also reveals some of the "rules" of mascotting, including not speaking and being willing to throw yourself into every performance, no matter how dispirited or apathetic audiences may be.
The behind-the-scenes preparation that goes into mascotting is interesting. But what adds to the entertainment is the honesty of the mascotters, who openly share their strong feelings about what being a mascot means to them, as well as their beliefs about how their work benefits their teams and their communities. It is these conversations that make the show uniquely compelling.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about mascots. What is the history of the mascot? How important is its role in sports? What kinds of skills do you have to have to be a good team mascot? Do you think this show offers a realistic look at what mascots do to prepare for events?
Any surprises in this series? Did you learn anything new?
Being a professional mascot is an unusual job. Which kinds of unusual jobs would you like to do?
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