Wednesday, April 05, 2017

New Nerdy Show on SyFy for Cosplayers

There's a new nerdy show on television courtesy of SyFy: 'Cosplay Melee.'

Before you groan, keep reading. This isn't the weird world of 'Heroes of Cosplay.' When SyFy announced the show earlier this year, there was some hesitation. The crew behind it created 'Face Off,' the make-up, head-to-head competition show that's been on the air for 11 seasons, and continues to be one of the channel's most successful ventures. They have paired up with some of the crew behind 'Heroes of Cosplay' to create this new show. One of our earliest reviews felt that the series was focusing too much on petty, and sometimes non-existent drama, and not on the costume creation. It hasn't been renewed for a second season after it's initial airing.

So it was a surprise to see 'Cosplay Melee' rise up and take over social media. I wasn't too sure if SyFy would be willing to try a cosplay show again. But it appears this time they listened to their potential audience. I personally know a few of the contestants on the show, and they wouldn't have been willing to throw themselves into the fray if they didn't feel confident in the show's premise. And so far, it seems to be working; ranking much higher in views and critic approval above 'Heroes of Cosplay.'

What is 'Cosplay Melee'? As the name implies, this is more of a competition show. Four people battle it out under severe time constraints to make a costume that fits the theme of the episode. The big prize at the end is $10,000. Some of us make costumes for less then $100, so $10 grand is astronomical. Contestants are given 2 challenges, the first being a prop or accessory that they have 8 hours to create. One person is eliminated after this challenge by the judges (actress Yvette Nicole Brown, costume and FX designer Christian Beckman, and worldly cosplayer LeeAnna Vamp). The second challenge is building the full costume in 2 days (over the course of 14-16 hours with each day). This also includes a runway walk of the contestants in the costume and make-up to show off the final piece. Again, very similar in format to 'Face Off.'

Why is this better then 'Heroes of Cosplay'? Because we actually get to see people MAKE their costumes. It's not going to be an in-depth tutorial of how to work with EVA foam. Because let's be honest - the vast majority of television viewers don't care. They only want to see people make cool stuff and marvel at how it was done. It's a fun glimpse of how these insane projects are put together when you have a limited time frame and loads of materials.

This isn't a show going behind the scenes on convention life. Unfortunately 'Heroes of Cosplay' showed a less then flattering side of cosplay that wasn't always true. That's the "reality" in reality television. Hold the reality.

'Cosplay Melee' adds new life into the competition show genre by focusing on the construction and display of the costumes. For cosplayers and a number of reality show fans, the cat fights and bickering get old. It's all been done before, and crafted with years of expertise thanks to 'The Real World' and 'The Real Housewives.' We don't really care to know about who hates who. We want to see the big ass costumes. And that's what 'Cosplay Melee' gives us!

On a personal note, the contestants involved in this show are some of the most dynamic group of people I have seen. They're not all women with ideal body sizes in skimpy outfits. That's what a number of people assume the cosplay world is all about when they see photos online. We have had a vast array of competitors so far showcasing some killer skills - with no boob bearing outfit in sight! From foam armor, to sewing and metal work, the cast this year has been stellar. Varying ages, races, genders, body types, you name it. These are real people who enjoy cosplaying and want to share their love for the art to others.

There is also no bickering, and the contestants even help each other by sharing tools and tips. That is real cosplay.

So before you dismiss the show, I urge you to give it a shot. Episode 3 aired last night. The first episode is free on the SyFy website, and if you have a cable subscription you can view the other 2 online. It's not what any of us were expecting and we were certainly glad for it! The show has already casted Season 2, and based on the ratings, it's expected to be around for a while as a great lead-in for 'Face Off.'

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