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New Netflix game show The Mole is wowing critics

Updated Oct 27th, 2022 5:44PM EDT
The Mole on Netflix
Image: Julian Panetta/Netflix

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When Alex Wagner took over most of Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC hosting duties back in August after Maddow had pared her schedule down to just one night a week at the network, it marked a seminal moment in cable news — and in the critical 9 pm hour, specifically. Despite the high-profile nature of her new gig, though, it’s not the only career change that Wagner has undertaken recently: The namesake of Alex Wagner Tonight also signed on to host a reboot of The Mole, a new reality series streaming on Netflix.

Moreover, now that the show has dropped its finale on Netflix, The Mole has arguably given its host at least two things that have so far proven elusive from behind the anchor desk at MSNBC: Positive press, and a massive audience.

The Mole on Netflix

The audience for cable news is, of course, in secular decline, vastly outnumbered by the potential viewership available on Netflix. And to that end, The Mole — which is the #9 show on the streaming giant in the US as of the time of this writing — has 10 episodes available to binge on the streamer. Also, for the moment, it boasts a perfect 100% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics roundly praising its “sophistication” as well as its “challenges, mind games, and sabotage.”

The way the show works: The streamer’s reboot of The Mole, which last aired on ABC in 2008, brings together 12 players to try and work together in challenges to accumulate money in a pot. Money, that is, which only one of them will take home.

One of the players has been secretly designated as “the mole.” That person is tasked with working to undermine all of the group’s efforts to add more money to the pot. The winner is whoever outlasts the competition and successfully exposes the mole.

The Mole on Netflix
Host Alex Wagner talks with contestants in episode 101 of “The Mole.” Image source: Netflix

Meanwhile, compare the fact that critics are raving about the reality series — which is certainly one of the least-cringey that Netflix has debuted to date — with all the tut-tutting among the cable news cognoscenti, many of whom fixated on how Wagner is drawing nowhere close to Maddow’s ratings. “Rachel Maddow’s Replacement,” reads an IndieWire report on October 10, “is no Rachel Maddow.”

On Netflix, though, thanks to The Mole? Wagner has a potential audience in the tens of millions, and (so far) a show that critics and viewers are raving about. “The Mole is one of the best shows Netflix has ever released,” one Twitter user writes. “We don’t want any more dating shows — give us deception, manipulation, AND CHAOS!!!”

More Netflix news

: Netflix Top 10: The most-watched shows in the world right now

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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