In search of the deeper logic of ‘Wie is de Mol?’

Can I still start with my New Year’s resolution, or should I keep it achievable, this television season? A new episode traditionally starts on the first Saturday of January Who is the mole?, this year for the 23rd time. As I’ve stated before, I don’t get the program, I don’t get the excitement around it, and quite frankly I don’t want to get it. Or wanted to, I should say, because this year I intend to delve into the logic of this game with ten candidates, always well-known Dutch people, who have to complete assignments together to earn money. Among them is one, no one knows who, who is secretly sabotaging things. Who that is, the candidates have to find out, and the few million Dutch people who are watching guess to their heart’s content.

I can’t promise that I’ll be sitting in front of the TV with a notebook to jot down every clue, no matter how brief. I also don’t have the app where you can earn points with Mol vision and suspicions. I don’t listen to the podcast (yet) and I wasn’t planning to watch it on Sunday evenings Mole tricksa youth spin-off in which Lavezzi Rutjes systematically checks which of the candidates behaves suspiciously and could well be the mole.

Saturday, first episode, I was ready. The first hurdle is always: do I know all the celebrities? Not all, but at least eight by name. Actors and presenters are often overrepresented, this time too, and this year’s top athlete is Ranomi Kromowidjojo, the swimmer. This time there was also a journalist among them, Daniël Verlaan, an investigative journalist after all.

Maybe that’s what’s eating at me so much, the whole idea that I should have the skills to detect the Mole in-house. A little journalist can observe, you would say. Always a bit of an outsider, the one who can listen, has knowledge of people, has an eye for details, looks closely, does not judge (too quickly). And how nice is it to experience on a Saturday night that you fail on all those fronts?


Of course it could also be that my worldview is wrong, after all, distrust is the engine of journalism, and behind every sheep there is a mole. And that idea is exactly what the makers of De Mol actively encourage. Everything is suspicious and there can be a clue in everything. From the title of the episode (Connection) to the names of the assignments (Pokerface, The Golden Mean), whether a candidate is too fanatical or too relaxed.

Maddening and exhausting. I think so, but I didn’t quit this time, I persevered to the end. A bit high to follow immediately Mol talc it seemed to me, in which the entire episode is completely rehashed in the studio with two presenters and three guests – all former participants. I saved that half hour of collective conspiracy thinking until Sunday.

Almost every name passed by as a possible Mole, even the first dropout Sarah Janneh was not exonerated – while the Mole is the only one who can never be sent home. But, someone cleverly said, Sarah wasn’t going home, she got another chance to stay in the game at the end of this first episode. “Brilliant”, they thought in the studio. If it turns out that Sarah remains in the game in episode two, no one will suspect her.

Just looking is not enough, I had imposed active participation on myself. So I have a Mole in mind. Annick Boer. Actress. She was immediately called Annick Panic because she shouted at the very first assignment that she was “completely overwrought”. Apart from the fact that I understand that very well, I found her so-called muddledness extremely suspicious.

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