Since its debut on YouTube Red, it's been hard to nail down what kind of show Escape the Night is. Part murder mystery party, part escape room challenge, the show has a lot of the tropes you'd expect in a reality competition show, and it features some very recognizable YouTube personalities, from Shane Dawson to Tana Mongeau.
Host Joey Graceffa invites a bunch of YouTubers to his magical house, gives them personas they must keep up in appearance and behavior just like one does at a murder mystery party, and yet the show has elements like talking head confessional interviews and challenges like on your typical reality show. Viewers have wondered, is Escape the Night scripted or are these YouTubers actually brilliant improvisers?
Just how scripted is 'Escape the Night'?
First, let's get one thing straight. This show definitely is scripted to an extent. By that we mean there is clearly a story mapped out, and for sure there are scenes that are clearly mapped out. Joey and series director Adam Lawson are both credited as writers for the show, in addition to at least one other writer and several story producers.
Story producer is a credit often on reality series like The Real Housewives franchise. While shows like that don't come with a script that actors memorize and deliver on screen, they wouldn't be very easy to follow or entertaining without the work of story producers, who piece together a narrative from the footage along with the editors. They also sometimes write narration scripts for the series host if there is one.
Each season is pretty methodically planned before the YouTubers converge on the manor and play the game. However, it is unscripted in the sense that the reactions and things they say are not pre-written by a writing staff. Basically, it's a very structured improve game, and what makes it work is the casting of people who are game for make-believe, according to Joey.
He told J-14, "it was really important that I pick people that I knew would have really fun reactions and really get into it. I wanted people who were willing to commit to what this show was. I didn’t want people who were not going to take it seriously. [I wanted] people that have a good imagination and play with what’s happening and [can] almost just pretend like this stuff’s really happening to us."
Will there be an 'Escape the Night' Season 5?
Now that all four seasons of the series, including the most recent All-Stars season, are available for free on YouTube (they were previously only viewable to premium subscribers) for two months, the fan base is sure to increase — but will they have more Escape the Night to look forward to?
Well, Joey has definitely hinted that he's down to make another season with a fresh cast, and we likely would get confirmation they got the green light at VidCon. However, the annual conference scheduled for June was canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Perhaps if the powers that be at YouTube see a surge in viewership with the release of the first four seasons on their free channel, they'll be compelled to renew it for Season 5.