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Today is the premiere date for Behind the Mask, a 10-episode documentary/comedy series that follows the life of four mascots at different levels of sports: Lebanon (Pennsylvania) High School's Rooty the Cedar Tree, UNLV's Hey Reb, Wilkes-Barre Scranton's Tux the Penguin, and the Milwaukee Bucks' target="_blank">dunking deer, Bango.
As all four allude to in the trailer, there's a fascinating dichotomy in their lives inside and outside the costumes. Rooty is adored by cheerleaders when he's in the outfit, but ignored by them out of it. The student behind Hey Reb is on the Bluto/Van Wilder academic track, currently in his sixth year. Tux has half the income and twice the happiness he once had, as he pursues his dreams of working in the NHL. And Bango must juggle five kids along with injuries sustained from being a self-described "adrenaline junkie". As someone who's been in a mascot's costume before, I can't describe how miserable I was during parts of it. Still, the bond formed with strangers provided an exhilarating rush that is difficult to match and a glimpse into why mascots put their bodies on the line to enhance the fan experience of others. Hopefully this series does the same.