Although Cosplay Melee isn’t the SyFy channel’s first attempt at a reality show inspired by the hobby, the second time around might be a charm.
In 2013, Syfy aired Heroes of Cosplay, a show that followed the trials and tribulations that costume-makers face while pursuing their passion. However, the show faced middling to poor reception, criticized for misrepresenting the hobby as well as exploiting more amateur cosplayers and con-goers. Suffice it to say, the show didn’t last long.
However, a new trailer from SyFy appears like they’re taking another go at televising the adventures of cosplayers, and this time around things look decidedly more exciting.
Hosted by self-professed ‘super-fangirl’ Yvette Nicole Brown (of Community fame), the show’s format will take on a competitive edge, with contestants pulling off daring crafts for a panel of judges, including big-name cosplayers like LeAnna Vamp as well as film industry talent such as Christian Beckman (costume work credits from The Hunger Games and TRON: Legacy).
Although it is a big step in the right direction in regards to cosplayers wish to be treated by the media – with respect and value for the craft, rather than like a beauty pageant – with any reality show comes drama. Described in SyFy’s press release as “Face/Off with a triple dose of adrenaline”, it remains to be seen how genuine the conflicts may be on the show. For a bunch of socially-awkward nerds who enjoy playing dress-up, authenticity or lack thereof is something the community can smell from miles away, and Heroes of Cosplay was a strong indicator of how kindly hobbyists take to people with 15 Minutes of Fame on the top of their agendas. As such, SyFy will need to avoid upsetting the cosplay community a second time in order to keep ratings and reviews up this time around.
Still, where Heroes of Cosplay felt like Keeping Up With the Kardashians with a sci-fi theme, Cosplay Melee is more akin to Project Runway, or even Chopped. If reality television shows are going to continue gnawing away at the public consciousness, we could all do much worse than watching one with some artistry to it.
In fact, if you feel daring, you might even consider applying to the show’s casting call before the March 17th deadline.
Cosplay Melee will premiere on SyFy on March 21, and in the mean time, we will await with cautious optimism.