If you love watching creative people doing their thing in a competitive setting, but don’t want a season-long commitment then SyFy’s new reality competition series Cosplay Melee is for you. New episodes air Tuesday nights at 10pm.
Like Food Network’s Chopped, Cosplay Melee features a new set of contestants and a new theme each week. There’s also multiple rounds with eliminations to narrow down the field and a $10,000 prize on the line. And like SyFy’s other reality competition series Face Off, Cosplay Melee condenses almost three days worth of work, plus judging, into one-hour which makes for a very tight episode. There’s no filler, just extremely talented people making some really cool stuff.
The show probably won’t serve as a how-to guide for anyone interested in getting into the world of cosplay, but between the exposition, construction, and judging I think you could still pick up some tips and tricks, or at the very least inspiration. I’ll be honest, my experience with cosplay is only in passing, but damn if this show didn’t make me want to hit the local hardware and craft store and get working. I’ve always enjoyed the fabrication portion of Face Off and this show essentially doubles down on that aspect of the character creation.
If you’re worried about not recognizing any of their characters, don’t be. Contestants make original characters based on the weekly themes and challenges. Plus, all the creations are given names and backstories, which are thoroughly explained throughout the episode so regardless of what fandom you’re into, you can tune in without the fear of feeling lost.
Also working in the show’s favor is the host and judging panel. The ever-charming Yvette Nicole Brown holds down the hosting duties while cosplay phenom LeeAnna Vamp and costume designer / makeup effects artist Christian Beckman join her at the judges table. (He’s worked on movies like TRON: Legacy, The Last Airbender, The Village, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.) I’ve only seen the first episode, so I don’t know if the judging panel rotates, but if it doesn’t that’d be fine. Vamp and Beckman were both great at balancing constructive criticism with praise.
I know one episode is a small sample size, but Cosplay Melee really hit the ground running. Working with a familiar format, a la Chopped, probably helped, but with such a strong start I’m excited to see what else is in store. Visit SyFy.com to watch the series premiere now.