Change the format of the show
There are different types of reality series, and here are the two most relevant to “Heroes of Cosplay”:
- Slice of Life: This series follows a person or a group of people around and attempts to tell stories of their daily lives. The people may be ordinary folk or they may have something unusual about their circumstances. Except for the placement of cameras in their homes or workplaces, the production company doesn’t provide any benefits to the people being featured. Examples: An American Family; 7 Up (and its sequels); The Deadliest Catch; Little People, Big World, Ace of Cakes
- Slice of Life – Competition: Same as above, but this type adds drama by showcasing the person or group of people at a competition where other people who are not a part of the series can potentially become the victors rather than the “protagonists” of the show. Examples: Toddlers and Tiaras, Dance Moms
The problem with the show is that while many cosplayers love to win competitions, most of the people who cosplay don’t do it for that reason alone. To place such a strong emphasis, then, on the competition aspect of cosplay is really doing a disservice to the subject matter and all cosplayers as well as placing an inhibiting barrier to anyone new who wants to get into the hobby.
I think that what would make the second season of “Heroes of Cosplay” stronger would be to move away from the focus on competitions and to just focus on different aspects of being a cosplayer itself. And no one does that type of reality series better than the folks who make “Penny Arcade: The Series.”
While I’ve had my problems with Penny Arcade in the past, I can’t deny that the web series about the company produced by 2 Player Productions (season 1) and Vantage Point Productions (seasons 2 and 3) makes it difficult to dislike any one of the individuals who works there completely. To be able to present nuanced and complete pictures of a documentary subject—warts and all—and still have your audience want to see more is the best compliment that can be paid to any reality show producer.
This doesn’t mean that there can’t be an episode or two devoted to cosplay competitions. Some of the highlights of any PA:TS season are the ping pong matches where the in-house Penny Arcade ping pong team hosts or visits a fellow game developer’s office and has ranked matches. These are often two-part episodes, and never during any of the games do you feel as if the opposing team are terrible and horrible people who deserve to be crushed into the ground—unlike how the group of femme Doctors were portrayed during the series finale episodes which took place at Planet Comicon in Kansas City.
So my first edict if I were given control of the series would be: Fire 51 Minds Entertainment and hire either of the two companies mentioned above or someone whose aesthetic is similar to produce the next series.