Cosplay Melee, a new show hosted by Yvette Nicole Brown, is coming to Syfy on March 21st. I looks to be similar to shows like Face Off, pitting contestants against each other in a competition to create their own designs. In each episode four top cosplayers will compete to create full costumes as well as original characters. Other judges include special effects artist Christian Beckman and cosplayer LeeAnna Vamp. If it follows the format of similar shows we may also see guest judges from similar fields.
This looks to be Syfy’s second venture into the cosplay world, though other shows have touched on its aspects, like Fangasm and Naked Vegas. The network’s previous attempt, Heroes of Cosplay, had a bumpy two seasons. The show was criticized for negative portrayal of the community, cosplayers, and even causing problems with contestants who weren’t part of the show when they changed the format of a competition. While I personally enjoyed the show, I did see some of the issues that others saw in the show, and I’m inclined to believe that’s why it didn’t come back.
Other than Steampunk’d, which isn’t exclusively about cosplay, there isn’t really anything else on TV right now featuring this art form. What began as just a hobby for super fans to express their love of pop culture, and their skill as crafters, has become a worldwide business. Some cosplayers not only compete for a living, but model, sell branded cosplay props and costumes, and appear as featured guests at conventions. With the immense popularity of other similar fandoms, it is surprising that we still have so little abut this on television.
What I hope we don’t see? The catty, snarky, and backstabbing nature of most of these shows. It’s a staple of reality competitions, whether it be makeup, tattoo, or cooking, there always seems to be a lot of back room bickering. It’s hard to tell if it’s manufactured, or just the result of putting a group of dis-likable people in a room together and making them compete. It’s bound to happen; not everyone gets along, I just hope it doesn’t become part of every promo and ‘next week on’ clip.
I also want to see amateur contestants. As much as I like seeing the work of Nigri, Han and Doomkitty, I’d love to see the show feature less-known artists, and those just starting out. Beginning cosplayers look at the work of the big names, and can be intimidated by the level of craftsmanship. It’s especially disheartening when the work is portrayed in a lightning fast montage between commercial breaks when that kind of work can take a beginner days or weeks. It’s like being a new writer (like me) and seeing how fast James Patterson can crank out a best seller.
I can’t deny that I’m excited for this show, but I’ll go into it with a bit of hopeful skepticism. I haven’t been able to get into other programs like it, except for background noise while I’m doing something else. I want to see a good cosplay competition. I just don’t want to see a re-skin of Inked or Face Off. What do you think?