Heroes of Cosplay, Season 1.5: Final Thoughts

I didn't do an "initial thoughts" post at the beginning of Season 1.5 because my thoughts hadn't changed much, if at all, since the previous half-season. Anyway, I'll do some wrap-up thoughts now.

First of all, I still love this show, and probably for all the wrong reasons. I love watching things that make me cringe and "trainwrecks" so to speak. ("It's just so awful, I can't look away!") This season had less drama and more costumes though, so that was cool. We saw a little more of people processes, I think, even if it still wasn't a lot.

The "coming up next..." and recaps before and after every commercial break ate up so much time though! It's almost as if the producers/network decided that if there wasn't enough drama, they were going to fill time with... With what? Suspense? There was nothing suspenseful about seeing the same clip of someone freaking out 5+ times before the entire scenario was shown and resolved. Almost every "dramatic" scenario was resolved almost instantly too, once they showed it in real-time instead of cutting back and forth to cast members' shocked faces.

"I'm not done!"
*shocked face*
*shocked face*
*concerned face*
"I don't know if I'll be able to finish!"
*more shocked faces*
-cut to commercial-
"[Name] still isn't done with their costume, and the clock is ticking down until the [Convention Name] cosplay contest."
"I'm not done!"
*shocked face*
*shocked face*
*concerned face*
"I don't know if I'll be able to finish!"
-cut to a different person freaking out about something else-

There you go, that's the show. Good lord, that gold so old, so fast.

Also, the screen time between cast members was not split up very well. While we're looking at three or so people's shocked faces for at least 5 minutes per episode, other cast members are just blips on the radar, sort of, "Oh yeah, they're at this convention too, out having fun. Now back to the shocked faces!" I was happy to see more cast members, but overall, their addition wasn't handled well by the show itself.

All of that is more about the editing, which has been my biggest complaint the entire time. As for the content, it's still about the same as the first half of the season, with slightly less drama. I still feel like the the show itself is a fairly accurate look into the competitive side of cosplay. We saw the late-nights, the sewing mistakes, the trying (and failing) at new techniques, and the pouring hours of labor into a costume just to come out of the contest with nothing at all. It happens. The fact that the cast of HoC is on TV while going through all of that kind of makes me feel bad for them. It's hard enough to put so much effort into something and get your hopes up so high and have it be all for naught, but then to have cameras follow you around through the whole thing and have it broadcast internationally, that really hurts the pride.

Some would definitely say that some of the cast members needed a hit to the ego, and I'm not going to disagree, but that's a big hit to the ego all at once. In any case, it happens just as much outside of the show as it did on HoC, so I'm okay with it.

I guess my biggest gripe with the cast themselves would be that they show a lot of techniques and materials that a lot of cosplayers don't use, like metal casting, and even making molds in general. More and more cosplayers are starting to do this, but definitely not the majority. Watching the show, I almost felt pressured to step up my game and start learning how to use more materials just to "keep up", so to speak. I guess it's good to be inspired to expand my skillset, but it really did feel like a pressure for a while. I had to take a step back and put things into perspective a little after watching a couple of episodes.

Another issue I had was that the cast all seemed to want to have big "Wow factors" (they over-used that phrase so much too), and yet their basic construction skills were severely lacking. I understand that they were on a time crunch, but in my experience, especially when there's pre-judging, good construction usually wins out over large, messy props. We saw a little bit of that in one episode (I think the only episode with pre-judging too), when two large costumes didn't win because they were sloppy and/or unfinished. Also there was an episode where it seemed like almost every single cast member wanted to use LED lights, and then none of them won. A bunch of stuff went wrong with the LEDs too, which was fun to watch because why would you leave them on when you're just standing in line backstage, turn them off and save the batteries, what are you doing!?

I think that the show's biggest downfall though is the cosplay community itself. We are such a tight-knit community with multiple online forums that their reality-show editing can't penetrate. Overall, I think the show would be more enjoyable if I didn't know what was going on behind-the-scenes. If I didn't know that contests were stacked in the cast's favor, and I could get mad at the cast for starting a week before the convention and not know that it's because the show doesn't tell them where they're going until a week before. I could definitely enjoy the show more if I didn't know that the SyFy camera crew was rude and manipulative toward non-cast convention attendees.

After all of that ranting, it doesn't sound like I like the show much, heh. I think it's easier to pick on the things that I don't like than it is to highlight the things that I do like. Also, the things that I do like are still the same as the things I liked about the first half of the season.

Here's the things I liked though:

  • The realism of the cast frequently losing contests despite their hard work.
  • Showing that procrastination (intentional or not) hardly pays off.
  • Seeing the construction process.
  • If these guys can crank out costumes in a week and win, I can labor over something for a month and win.
Some things that I think the community at large could have learned from or like about the first half of the season no longer apply because some cast members did not return for the second half.

All in all, I will continue to be a glutton for punishment and watch as long as I can!

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