Actor Alan Cumming wears a fashionable ensemble topped with a yellow beret as he sits in a study in an image promoting his new reality competition series 'The Traitors'

Peacock’s Hit Reality Show Is an Alan Cumming Masterclass

Reality television is a delight. Who wouldn’t want to watch someone else’s drama for a while? In the case of the new Peacock series The Traitors, we’re gifted two wonderful things: Reality TV stars competing with one another, and Alan Cumming having the time of his life. The series brings together stars from some of our favorite reality shows with regular people. Names like Brandi Glanville from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Arie Luyendyk Jr. from The Bachelor are competing with tech sales reps and DMV managers to try and trick one another.

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Did I ever think I would see contestants of Survivor and Big Brother together with a music producer in a pretend castle owned by Alan Cumming? No, I did not. But the show works because Cumming is selling it to us. Cumming is an actor known for his eccentric roles and theatrics, making him the perfect choice to host something like The Traitors.

Set in Ardross Castle in Scotland, Cumming lets his Scottish heritage shine as our guide, appearing in beautiful tartan outfits, each more elaborate than the last. Cumming, along with his groundskeeper Fergus, guides the players in missions throughout their stay. And truly, hearing how Cumming decides to deliver a line and the wild things he says are highlights of the series. If I could, I’d use audio of Alan Cumming saying “Murder” as my ringtone.

The object of the game

We’ve talked about how the series worked in other places around the world, but let me break down how the U.S. show functions. Basically, all the players get to come to this castle where they’ll be living together during their missions. On the first day, Alan Cumming randomly assigns three players to be the “traitors,” while the rest of the competitors are the “faithfuls.”

The faithfuls do not know who is a traitor or even how many there are at any given time, leading to a lot of distrust and fighting among them. The days are pretty simple: Do a task, see who acts suspiciously, and then vote them out at the end of the night. But if you vote wrong, you are left with one less faithful and the same number of traitors.

And the first season for Peacock is so much fun because it is filled with people we’ve known from other shows. It’s fascinating to see how they play this game as both traitors and faithfuls. The Traitors is a show about lying, and for a lot of the players, it’s hard to build relationships with their fellow teammates, knowing they are lying. It is genuinely an interesting watch the entire way through.

But then they throw in Alan Cumming in his tartan, just being as theatrical as he can possibly be, and it is perfect. I was expecting him to do his one man show of Macbeth again just for the vibes alone.

(featured image: Peacock)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.