Last week I posted my thoughts on the return of Syfy’s controversial reality show, Heroes of Cosplay. Due to a massive list of commissions, I won’t have much time to post original recipes or cosplay tutorials in the next few months, so I am going to take it easy and continue to review this show through the end of the season. It should be interesting to see if Syfy has addressed any of the overwhelmingly long lists of criticisms in the editing and scripting of this show, or if it continues to portray the cosplayers as a bunch of petty children who get pouty when they don’t win a prize. Either way, should be an interesting ride!
Episode 7 Recap
Episode 7 was the return of the show to television after a long hiatus. It followed the same general format as in previous episodes; Chloe Dykstra is adorable, Holly Conrad and Jessica Merizan talk about furthering their costume and prop studio, Crabcat Industries, Jesse Lagers shares his dream of becoming a full-time prop maker, and Yaya Han acts as the gatekeeper of good construction and dispenses advice and encouragement to her fans. We were also introduced to a new cosplayer from the Atlanta area, Indra Rojas, who was “convinced” by Yaya to get back into the Cosplay competition scene. After basic introductions, the cosplayers start to make plans for Comikazi, a comic book convention held in Los Angeles. The LA based cosplayers (Chloe, Holly, and Jessica) decide to do several group cosplays (burlesque Ladies of the Internet for the floor, and Pokémon Y group for the competition), while Jesse and Indra work to make individual costumes (Mega Man and She-Ra Princess of Power) for the contest. Yaya Han provides encouragement to Indra, but attends a cosplayer/photographer event in Argentina rather than showing up as a judge at the convention in LA. The usual cosplay headaches ensue, mostly centered around transporting large costume and prop pieces safely to the convention in this episode. We also get to witness Indra’s mad construction skills. Let’s just say I wish I was that adept with wiring and lights. In the end, we get to see some awesome cosplays at the contest, and, despite the fact that none of our “Heroes” placed, they seemed to have a good time and be proud of their cosplay creations.
Episode 8 Recap
While the previous episode ended on a positive, good natured note, some questionable editing and offensive off-hand comments resurfaced in episode 8. Most notably an awkward cut of Riki wiggling into her costume and a large emphasis on Yaya whining about how “unglamorous” glasses are. Hint: when your target audience is a bunch of nerds, insulting the appearance of glasses probably isn’t the best idea. During the rest of the episode, Indra, Riki, Jesse, and Jessica prepare for Ottowa Pop Expo. The costume contest follows International Costuming Guild Rules, so the cosplayers have additional pressure to pull out all the stops. Holly and Chloe plan to be on vacation during the Expo, but work to help Jessica finish her costume, a Skeksis, from Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal, which includes a trip to visit Brian Henson at the Jim Henson studios (can you say Syfy tie-in?). Brian, as always, seems like a genuinely friendly and supportive person, and it is always a treat to get a glimpse inside of the studio. Crabcat turns out a truly impressive Liberachi Skeksis (which was nearly trapped in Customs), Indra loses her fight with gravity and ends up dragging the tails of her Ahri (League of Legends) costume behind her on stage, and Atlanta’s cold weather causes Riki to change her costume mid-creation from Ashe of League of Legends to Elizabeth from Persona. Jesse learns to cast metal, and creates the ten rings of The Mandarin. Yaya is one of the judges at the contest, where Riki wins a Judge’s Choice Award and Indra wins a craftsmanship award for her intricate hand embroidery. The work of Jesse and Holly and Jessica goes un-awarded, and Jessica vows to come back stronger at the next con.
Although it is early yet in this portion of the season, it does seem that Syfy has addressed some of the criticism that plagued early episodes of this show. Firstly, at the end of episode 7, the cosplayers all seemed happy with their work and seem to have enjoyed competing, rather than being upset over having lost the contest. The show attempted to touch on the “how sexy is too sexy” angle of cosplay, and feeling comfortable in your costume with Holly’s resistance to dressing like a burlesque dancer with the Ladies of the Internet group. I am not sure if the whole “peer pressure made me do it” is a really positive message to be sending out to the young fans of this show who might be interested in starting cosplay. On one hand, Holly is an adult, can make her own choices, and can wear whatever she wants. Personally, I thought her costume was rather cute. BUT it isn’t for me to decide if the cute factor made it ok for her to end up wearing it when she clearly was so uncomfortable with the idea in the first place. Syfy’s gratuitous use of cheek shots (you know what I mean) didn’t really help convince me that the experience was helping Holly to grow as a person either. So a bit of a mixed message on this episode - yay for portraying the cosplayers as being more supportive and fun-loving than in previous episodes, but boo for glorifying decisions made by peer pressure. At least we got to see Yaya Han’s costume “closet” (it’s an entire room in her house), and Indra making awesomeness happen with Worbla and LEDs.
Episode 8 is also a bit of a mixed bag in terms of improvements over earlier episodes. The cosplayers all seem to be more focused on having fun and loving the characters they are trying to portray, which is nice, but the glasses comments from Yaya, the closing remarks by Jessica, and the dressing Riki montage all seem to indicate that the show hasn’t made a complete 180 from where it started. Is it better than it was? Yes. Does it still have a ways to go? Yes.
Previews for next week and the show’s new introduction seem to indicate that we will be seeing more male cosplayers in the near future. The first part of the season had been criticized for portraying cosplay as petty girls who like to play sexy dress up and the guys who build costumes for them. I am excited to meet these new cosplayers and to see what sorts of skills and creativity they bring to the craft. It will also be nice to see a bit more of a gender balance portrayed on the show, rather than having Jesse be the token cosplay dude. While there are many valid complaints about the show, the costumes continue to be amazing, and it really fun to see inside all of the various cons throughout North America. I am sure the community’s reaction is mixed, but I am looking forward to seeing what sorts of costumes come out to play in next week’s episode in Miami.