Cosplay Melee

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Cosplay Melee TV Poster Image
Reality show scores by focusing on creativity, not conflict.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Imagination, creativity, and playfulness are at the forefront of this series, with the focus on what players make and how and why they've made their creative choices, rather than focusing on personalities and conflicts. Female players often mention their love of playing powerful women. Players and judges are gender-balanced and show ethnic/racial diversity. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players hold professional jobs and cosplay is a hobby they enjoy -- young viewers may come away with the impression that even responsible adults can have playful pastimes. Judges treat players and their efforts with respect, and criticism is gentle, rather than blunt or hurtful. 

Violence

Players often make weapons/defensive gear for their characters -- no fights occur on the show, but costumed characters are clearly ready for battle. Players use dangerous tools like knives and noxious chemicals in their costumes and are shown wearing protective safety gear. 

Sex

Costumes may be -- but aren't always -- revealing and sexualized, with bare skin and cleavage. 

Language

Infrequent cursing: "bad-ass," "s--t" (bleeped). 

Consumerism

Many movies and TV shows are mentioned and their characters/costumes discussed; some may be more suitable for young viewers than others. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cosplay Melee is a reality competition featuring contestants who compete to make costumed characters within a limited time frame. This series is similar to the special-effects series Face Off, but gentler, with judges offering sincere praise and sympathetic criticism. The focus is on how players make their costumes, not on personalities or conflicts as on other reality competitions. Costumes may have violent elements -- competitors frequently make weapons and shields -- and they may be revealing/skimpy or have elements that play up body parts (i.e. a buxom "breastplate"). They may also be connected to movies/characters that are too violent or mature for young viewers. Infrequent cursing: "bad-ass," "s--t" (bleeped). 

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What's the story?

Dive into the world of creative costume-making with COSPLAY MELEE, a reality competition with four new players each week who compete to make the best costume and win $10,000. Hosted by actress and self-described "super fangirl" Yvette Nicole Brown and featuring the judging talents of costume creator Christian Beckman (The Hunger GamesTRON: Legacy) and noted cosplayer  LeeAnna Vamp. On each episode, the competitors first perform a limited challenge that eliminates one person; the three that remain must then create fully-formed, full-body costumes on a particular theme (space operas, Game of Thrones), bringing their characters to life by wearing the costume onstage and explaining their characters' origin and particulars. The one who does it best wins bragging rights, and the $10,000 prize. 

Is it any good?

If you can't get enough of Face Off, this creative and playful series should be on your watchlist. Like Syfy's other hit character-creation show, Cosplay Melee is firmly focused on its artists and their fantastic creations. Most of the show's running time is eaten up by the costume-creation phase of the competition, with players explaining in fascinating detail how they turn dollar-store art supplies and accessories into incredibly realistic gear. However, unlike on Face Off, where the competitors are often professionals and the judges rather blunt in their criticisms, judges are gentle with competing hobbyists and their creations. "Woooooooow!" Brown frequently utters when seeing a character come to life onstage, assuring players "You did a great job, honey!"

Her fellow judges may point out when a creation is lacking, but they do it with inordinate kindness, pulling their punches, suggesting how something could be made better instead of pointing out all the imperfections. Watching may inspire viewers to make their own costumes -- and it certainly will increase their appreciation for the costumed characters in their favorite movies and shows as well as the people who made what they wear. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why reality shows like Cosplay Melee with competitors who make something -- a meal, an outfit, a costume -- are popular. What's interesting about watching an artist work? Why are these shows competitions instead of just showcases for artists' work? 

  • At least one character, 49-year-old Fred, says he's both a "giant nerd" and older than a typical cosplayer. Are cosplayers typically young people? Why? Do you object to a cosplayer of any age? Is dressing up for fun something people should outgrow? 

TV details

For kids who love competitions

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