Syfy’s Heroes of Cosplay review

Heroes-of-Cosplay

I just checked out the premiere episode of Heroes of Cosplay on the Syfy channel a couple of days ago. This new ‘reality TV’ series follows a a group of mostly female cosplayers in their quest for costume supremacy at different comic conventions around the nation. Some are famed cosplayers like Yaya Han and Chloe Dykstra, while others are struggling amateurs trying to break into the world of competitive cosplay. I was interested in seeing this series since I know a few of the participants as well as I was at Portland Comic Con where they shot the inaugural episode. Overall, I have mixed feelings about Heroes of Cosplay. In short, my experience oscillated from nerdgasm to the painfully bad- so let me explain:

The Bad
fallout-e1376499334638Like most budding reality TV shows, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that the interactions are scripted or situations are prompted. It may or may not have been the case but the dialogue felt forced and directed at times. Having a little reality production experience myself, I know it is very challenging to tell a story coherently unless you do some staging- especially when you are telling multiple stories. The banter worked fine in some cases and was cringe-worthy in others. The other big problem I had with HoC was the over emphasis on cosplay competition. Most of the cosplayers I know (when I say most, I mean all), do it for the love and creativity of embodying a fictitious character. I get that drama is needed to tell a story but in ‘reality’, the competition is just the added bonus after a long few days at a con. I wish HoC would have highlighted the amazing cosplayers as they inspire fans with their creativity or showed their support to charities and hospitals- which to me is truly heroic. Most of my complaints about HoC is that it shows a narrow focus of what the cosplay world is all about. Plus, being in the middle of many costume competitions, usually the atmosphere is jovial and celebratory. It’s honestly less stressful and more a big party.

The Good
1175507_649552615055135_207778085_nWhat has set Comic Cons a part from any other fan base has been the eclectic and diverse group of cosplayers. Their passion is unparalleled and their art delivers amazing creativity to shows all over the world. However, like anything of beauty, it comes with a price. I’m glad that HoC showed the extreme effort these artists endure to bring their creations to life. They all sacrifice time, money, energy, and for some, relationships. I’m glad HoC showed their dedication to their craft, even though it was a bit clumsy at times. I also think it is great that, for the most part, ordinary cosplayers are being followed. For too long cosplayers have been overly sexualized and objectified so I think HoC struck a good balance with that by keeping the boob count down. With a mostly female cast, it’s bound to be an issue from time to time- but I’m glad HoC tried to portray them as who cosplayers are- smart, passionate, and skilled craftswomen. It was also good to show that extreme cosplay is a team sport that requires a support team to make it all possible.

How should the nerd community respond to this show?
Heroes of Cosplay - Season 1As I have been tracking the feedback for HoC on Twitter, there has definitely been a lot of criticism in the wake of the premiere episode. Let’s face it, as fellow con nerds and cosplayers, we always have a lot to complain about. Largely because our ‘gut’ instinct is to say “that’s not like the cosplayers I know…” or “there is so much more to cosplay”. Well, I want to encourage you to suppress your deep seeded urges to criticize. Not because you are not right, but rather for the sake of supporting the art form of cosplay. We are finally getting the media attention we deserve so to me, awkward progress is better than no progress. This show has received similar nerd-rage as Kevin Smith’s and AMC’s Comic Book Men. There is a lot wrong (and stereotyping) on that show as well but it is at least getting comic culture out to a wider audience. Personally, I can’t believe we are living in an era where we are watching reality TV shows about comic books and cosplay. Sure, it’s not going to get it right half the time- but at least it’s out there taking awkward first steps. I think it’s important that we embrace the good with the bad for the sake of the big picture. This is not a perfect show by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s highlighting the story of good people doing a work that is still largely misunderstood. It takes bravery to put your life on display and put it in the hands of unknown producers, directors, and editors. Who knows, I might jump ship as the episodes continue but I am at least willing to give it a solid try. Come on, anything to compete against the dreadful “Real Housewives of…” series has to be a worthy cause. Can we all agree on that?!?! Maybe I’m just a sucker for people pursuing their dreams. Either way, I want to do my part in making this show a hero and not a villain.

Leave your comments on the show?

9 thoughts on “Syfy’s Heroes of Cosplay review

  1. For the first show , I didn’t think it would go into the fine details. As a mother who’s son is into this sort of thing. It works, I do hope it goes deeper into the world around it, as the show goes on. It is one thing to have friends who do it, and other when it becomes apart of your own family. But, if it doesn’t, and the fighting goes on, I will tune out. You don’t have to be hardcore to know that isn’t the real of it.

    • That’s so awesome that you are watching it with your son. It is a good glimpse into that world if you have no experience with it. I’m sure your son thinks you are super cool. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Nice article. I’m one that was not too impressed with this show. I was looking for more concept, technique, and construction instead of drama and negative body issue arcs that send a horrible message. Out of all of them, the guy was the most fun for me to watch. I’ll continue to watch it in the hopes that it will get better. If the next episode fails to redeem the show for me, then I’m probably done.

    • Yea, it would be cool if they dedicated a show to the actual craft of cosplaying- some of the technique and tricks would be very helpful for those starting out. Less drama and more creativity. Thanks for commenting!

  3. If one expects a Ken Burns documentary on cosplay, then this is not it. If one begins by accepting that it is a *reality show* about cosplay competitions (as should have been abundantly clear in the promos), it should be fairly simple to deduce the dramatic formula one should expect out of the show. I think that much of the complaining over the show comes from the inability of some viewers to set their expectations realistically for a “reality show” about cosplay competitions.

    I agree that more time devoted to the technical side of costume making would be welcome. But I think that my segment very efficiently conveyed the two messages that I wished to convey in that episode:
    1) Home embroidery machines exist, and
    2) They are created by Satan himself to mercilessly torture unsuspecting cosplayers.
    Given the tweets that I have received saying things like “Loved the show! Before I watched, I didn’t even know home embroidery machines like that were a thing!” it seems that at least part of my message has been received, though I would have liked to have gotten more messages along the lines of “are embroidery machines really that bad?” because they are, in fact, much much worse.

    I think that the first episode should have been a relief to some people who had feared that:
    1) The show would make fun of geeks/cosplayers, and be a “look at these freaks” show (it didn’t, and wasn’t),
    2) The show, with its female-heavy cast, would be purely T&A, making it seem like cosplay is about cleavage (only one cosplayer showed any cleavage, and she wasn’t competing, while all of the other cosplayers were relatively modest),
    3) The show would be full of fake cosplayers and rigged competitions (if the contest was rigged, the cast members wouldn’t have gotten such minor awards, with the top awards going to other people).

    Anyway, I don’t want to take up too much of your blog space with my ranting. Here are some of my own thoughts on the show:

    http://www.jinyo.net/the-reality-show-cosplayers-deserve/

    • Hey Jin Yo, It was great to meet you the other night at the Geekie Awards. I’ve enjoyed working with Victoria and glad she is a part of this show. Thanks so much for your comment. It really helps to have an inside perspective on the production. I do think what you and Victoria bring to the show is a much needed ‘technical’ aspect. I hate that the outfit didn’t work out but it also is a realistic example of how some cosplay projects don’t work out.

      Like I said in my review, I think there is much to be gleaned from this first episode (like the reasons you wrote above). I’m glad that the cast is composed of real female cosplayers not exploiting themselves but wanting to highlight their craft. The tension is in what the ‘powers that be’ decide what makes for good reality TV. I know the interwebs are already a buzz from last week’s episode and Yaya’s comment. I’ll write a review of that one as well.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and look forward to your future adventures in Heroes of Cosplay.

  4. I really like the show so far. Like you said, it isn’t perfect by any means, but I am just as happy as you are that we are finally getting our time in the spotlight and educating the public about our world. Reality shows have been around long enough that people should know it isn’t going to be exactly how it is in real life and things are going to get dramatized for ratings, but of course I also know there will be some out there who take everything they see as face value (it was on TV, so it must be true).

    The show is informative for me since I’m a newbie cosplayer and love learning new tricks of the trade from experienced cosplayers. It is also entertaining because I can relate to the stress that they are going through to get their costumes done on time (seriously, I was in tears just like Victoria because I couldn’t get my costume done on time for Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con and I wasn’t even entering into the competitions!). It would be nice if they showed more of the craft part, but I like what they do show of it.

    I heard some people having concerns about it being too focused on competition. The show follows a bunch of cosplayers starting from about a week before the competition so, of course, it does have a bit to do with the competitions, but a good chunk of the show shows all of the stress and sleepless nights a cosplayer goes through to make their costumes absolutely perfect before the competition.

    I also don’t mind them talking about things like body issues because that is another thing I could relate to and it is good for aspiring cosplayers to know that you don’t have to have the same body as the character you are portraying. I had that concern before I started cosplaying, but I had the privilege to talk to Riddle last year at LVCE after her cosplay for beginners (or whatever it was called) panel and she gave me some great advice about ways to make my costume flatter my body type and encouraged me to just go for it, which I did for the first time this year. So it isn’t like that stuff doesn’t cross our minds.

    Since these cosplayers are on a very tight deadline for the competition, yes there is a bit of drama too (it’s pretty much the main ingredient in reality tv shows), but that just goes with the territory of cosplaying regardless if you are competing or not, so that part of the show didn’t surprise me at all. This show really does make you appreciate all of the hard work that cosplayers go through for their fandom.

    We just have to remember that we do this for fun. That can be hard for those of us who are perfectionists, but if you aren’t having fun, there is no point in doing it. I do hope they eventually show an equal amount of male and female cosplayers though.

    Sorry for such a long response. :)

    • Great thoughts. Yea, I think it’s easy to get critical of it and in general the haters need to chillax (yes, I just used that word). Reality TV is really ‘hyper-reality’ or else why would anyone watch it? According to the TV folks- sex, stress, and drama is what gets ratings. They after all have a show to maintain. So like you, I am torn. I think it has more good than bad. I just hope it improves and covers a more diversity of topics. Thanks.

  5. I’ve been watching with my two teens who started cosplaying a few years ago. Just stated to more formally teach my oldest to sew this week for her NYCC costumes (so I don’t have to anymore!) and I blame you, Jin Yo for introducing an embroidery machine to her (I already knew about them but wasn’t gonna tell) ;)

    While we’d love if it was a bit like “Face Off” with more technique & how-to info, they are THRILLED to see something they’re really getting into on TV. It makes it a lot easier to explain to friends & family what this is all about. And this week’s episode generated a lot of indepth discussion at our house on female empowerment, body issues, slut shaming & what kind of characters they’re not comfortable cosplaying. So looking forward to more…

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