Will SyFy’s ‘Heroes of Cosplay’ series be good for the cosplay community?


SyFy has just released the first episode of their six-part series about cosplaying entitled “Heroes of Cosplay” to the public (our review is here). Prior to that though, there were some members of the press that were able to not only preview the first episode, but review it as well before the public. From a few early reviews that I’ve come across, let’s just say that not everyone seemed to enjoy it. Now obviously any new series can always be met with some sort of skepticism, and not every new series that comes out is good. Based upon what I had read and seen in trailers for “Heroes of Cosplay” thus far, it’s more of the presentation and content that has me incredulous about the series.

First we’ll check out two separate reviews about the show as well as some of the backlash that one reviewer received. I know that the first episode just aired and there are reviews flooding in from everywhere, but I’m using early reviews because they tend to be from a more unbiased/neutral perspective. I’ll also dig a little into how SyFy’s approach to cosplaying and their depiction presented could be viewed as a negative towards the cosplay community.

A Good Review

Bill Watters from Examiner.com wrote a great review for the upcoming series and from my point of view, gave an accurate analysis of the show in itself. Not only does he dissect the entire episode, but he also addresses the misconceptions that the show might present. It is also worth noting that Bill is a long-time nerd and has also attended many conventions photographing cosplayers, therefore he is more than proficient on the subject matter. He gave the episode 4 out of 5 stars. Why is that important that I mention he’s competent on the concept of cosplaying, you ask? Well that brings us to our next review.

A Bad Review

Linda Stasi from NYpost.com also wrote a review, except the way it’s written is from a more biased or skewed perception, almost satirical if you will. Towards the end of her very short “review”, she even goes as far as to say that “all of it is weird” and that she thinks cosplayers “really want to be the fictional characters they portray.” She makes it sound as if they wish to lose touch with their current reality.

There’s a difference between wanting to “be” the character and wanting to portray the character as accurately as possible. The latter of which I believe most cosplayers, if not all, try to do/recreate. As much as Stasi’s review seemed to make fun of cosplaying, she still rated the show 3 out of 4 stars.

The Backlash

Stasi’s review definitely caught the attention of cosplayers everywhere. MTV Geek reached out to many cosplayers to get their opinion of the review. Needless to say, just about everyone was quite disappointed and upset with her biased view. One journalist that happened to be a cosplayer herself, even went as far as to give a well-written reply to the review. She methodically breaks down the review and addresses everything that was wrong with it, as well as adding in extra pieces of informative information on cosplaying. I really like how she approaches every point from a more factual point of view, rather than anger blasting the reviewer.

Why is it bad?

Like I stated in the beginning, I think it’s more about how cosplaying is being presented in the show that might impact it negatively. Stasi had no background or prior knowledge in cosplay, and that was largely reflected in her review. If that was her impression, how would the rest of the general public perceive it? Would it be widely accepted or ridiculed as “weird?”

The official “About Us” on the SyFy page for Heroes of Cosplay reads as the following:

Cosplayers and cosplay contests are a fixture and highlight at the many comic book and genre fan conventions around the world. These conventions provide an international stage for fans to showcase often spectacular handcrafted costumes and portray their favorite characters from sci-fi movies, video games, anime and more. In Heroes of Cosplay, nine passionate fans put their imagination and skills to the test to make a name for themselves in the competitive world of cosplay.

The series follows cosplayers of all levels, from legend Yaya Han, to rising stars and newbies, as they make a splash at comic book conventions around the country. The series will dive deep into their lives, following their process as they create extravagant and visually arresting costumes each week. These nine constantly defy odds and race against the clock to transform themselves into amazing fictional characters that push the boundaries between fantasy and reality, all in hopes of impressing the convention judges to win a cash prizes and take their cosplay stardom to new heights.

Now just from the description alone, it seems that the show just focuses on the competitive side of cosplaying and not at all on the hobby itself. To me, this feels a bit skewed in how it’s presented to a general audience. It gives the presumption that cosplay is only centered around a competitive nature, and not for the love of the hobby.

Another thing that bothered me, was a quote from Executive Producer Mark Cronin:

Male characters tend to be simpler — lots of body armor and weaponry and spandex and capes,’ observes Cronin. ‘They’re usually nowhere near as interesting and intricate, or sexy and cool, as the costumes worn by the women. And, let’s face it, female sexuality is a big part of comic-book art and a big element in the Con world

So it seems Cronin believes that male cosplayers aren’t very compelling, complex, sexy or cool as opposed to female cosplayers. Which just comes off that he’s basing the notion of cosplaying as sex sells and truly doesn’t know a thing about cosplaying period. Now we see where his focus of the show was based from. I myself have cosplayed a few times, and have many male friends that cosplay with some amazing costumes.

If you want a more accurate portrayal of cosplay on TV, check out PBS’ documentary, “Cosplay! Crafting a Secret Identity.”

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