Why You Have To Watch The Most Popular Dutch TV Show Posted by Sten on Jan 28, 2022 in Culture, Dutch Vocabulary, Film & Theater
In its 22nd season this year, the Dutch TV show Wie is de Mol? returned for its annual thrilling jacht op de mol (hunt for the mole). I talked about this show way back in 2015, but this show deserves to be talked about again. And I believe that this Dutch success (it’s been running for 22 years, people!) could actually make it outside of the country now. How cool would that be! So here’s what you need to know about Wie is de Mol? and why you absolutely need to watch it.
So what is this game?
Perhaps you have heard of the video game Among Us, which became a worldwide hit at the beginning of the COVID pandemic. In it, you work together with other people to complete minigames on a spaceship, while trying to find the imposter, whose mission is to be the last man standing before being found out. At the end of every round, all crew members come together to discuss – who is the imposter? Who needs to be eliminated?
Combine that with an escape room (The Dutch made a tv show around that, too…), and you get Wie is de Mol? with some of its own mechanics.
This year, 11 kandidaten are participating. One of them is the Mol (mole). With each opdracht (task), normally 2-3 per episode, the kandidaten can earn money for the pot (poule). The task of the mol is to keep that amount as low as possible by sabotaging the game and trust between the kandidaten. And everybody not only has to play the games well to get money for the pot, but, more importantly, they have to pay attention to any verdachte (suspicious) actions by the other participants. Wie is de mol? To document all their observations, each participant has a molboekje (“little mole book”, a sort of diary with suspicions, hints and simply documenting the events). At the end of each episode, there’s the Test en Executie (Test and Execution). Each kandidaat has to complete a test about the doen en laten (behavior) of the mol, like on what team they were for a certain opdracht. The executie that follows is the unnerving exit of one of the kandidaten. The kandidaat with most mistakes has to go. In a staring contest with presenter Rik van de Westelaken that ends with a groen scherm (green screen) or rood scherm (red screen), it’s the always spannende (exciting) end of an episode.
With fewer kandidaten every episode, the circle around the mol becomes smaller, and with more clues and information, the kandidaten can get a better idea who amongst them could be the mol. It’s a brilliant tension ride throughout!
As a viewer, you should also pay attention, as there are clues all over the episodes. At the end, once the mol is ontmaskerd (unmasked), they share their strategy with the world. How did they manipulate the opdrachten, how did they spread wantrouwen (distrust)? So it’s a great time also to see whether you were right in your suspicion!
You can even play with your friends and other molloten (fans of the show) in a poule in the Wie is de Mol? app to guess and reason who could be the mol. And if you still can’t get enough, there’s Moltalk, a half hour talk show that discusses the latest episode and, more kids-oriented, Mollenstreken. If you STILL can’t get enough, there are the Wie is de Mol?-Forum and reddit forum where viewers discuss theories and potential hints (clues), a bordspel (board game) and a podcast about the candidates.
Wie is de Mol in other countries
With the Dutch success, you’d imagine that the format could also work in other countries. With some interruptions and doubts since its debut in Belgium in 1998, de Mol is now also a mainstay in Belgian TV. Instead of bekende Nederlanders (BN’ers – Dutch celebrities), anybody can sign up and hope to participate – and perhaps write TV history by unmasking de Mol and winning the pot. The Belgian version is aired a few months after the Dutch one, probably to avoid an overlap (after all, both are Dutch-spoken, so you could follow both!). You can find the last season here.
Beyond the Dutch-speaking world, the show saw a few seasons in Spain (El Traidor, El Topo), in Italy (La Talpa), Poland (Agent) and as The Mole in the UK, Australia and the USA in the 2000s, but none of them continued after a few seasons. The German show, at first known as Der Maulwurf – die Abenteuershow, now continues as The Mole. So the English word is used there.
But with the renewed success of the genre with games like Among Us and the rising popularity of escape rooms, perhaps the show could be successful again in countries like the USA!
Whether that will happen or not, one thing is for sure: The Dutch format isn’t going anywhere.
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