Syfy's "Face Off"

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REVIEW: ‘Syfy’s Face Off’ - 4 out of 5 stars

Syfy takes reality television to a new level of talent

The Syfy Channel’s hit reality television program, ‘Face Off’ finished it’s sixth season last Tuesday, April 22nd, on a ludicrous note, resulting in rival alien races competing in an underground dance-off. Luckily, overshadowing the disappointment and slight confusion of the show’s finale, ‘Face Off’s sixth season still proved itself to be it’s most impressive competition yet.

The premise of the show is not unlike other reality television competitions. Fifteen prosthetic make-up artists are brought to Los Angeles, California to compete for a chance to both critically and financially further their career as a science fiction and fantasy creature make-up artist. The hour-long program typically involves two challenges, almost always accompanied by the show’s host, McKenzie Westmore’s, unnecessarily dramatic narration. (Westmore’s position on the show may seem questionable until you learn that her father is critically-acclaimed make-up artist, Michael Westmore.) The only criticism I can muster for the formatting of the show is the network’s painful decision to pack it’s commercials with the same two horror-movie trailers on a loop.

After having been a fan of the show since its premiere season, I am relieved to conclude that the bar of both technical excellence and challenge difficulty set by judges Ve Neill, Glenn Hetrick, and Neville Page has been raised significantly. The contestants were asked to derive inspiration from wigs, shadows, and even childhood fairytales. (My personal favorite is still the challenge to create an anime character. In Japan.)

While watching the hit series, one can only wonder how the masterminds behind the creations can think of such elaborate and original creature back-stories. Additionally, the show never addresses how the Syfy buffs competing on it ever learned to create large ceramic molds and turn them in to monster make-up. I have to believe that this is the way the nerds from high school are getting their revenge on the popular kids. Thriving on national television will show them, eh?

Syfy aims to achieve a show that will fascinate its network audience: science fiction and fantasy fanatics. ‘Face Off’ captivates far more than it aims to. Many critics of the show have admitted to a sort-of disgusted fascination – not to be confused with actual admiration – of the raw talent that the contestants prove themselves to have episode after episode. The average reality television show, such as ‘The Real Housewives’ series or ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ does very little to prove that popular entertainment supports hard work, determination, or talent as model behavior within society today. ‘Face Off’ proves all three to be still prevalent values and goes beyond that. ‘Face Off’ makes “geek” a little bit more cool to the world outside of ‘Warehouse 13’, ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, and ‘Stargate SG-1’. (And, yes, you are cooler than me if you don’t know what any of those are.) Syfy has achieved what every comic-book loving, glasses-wearing, socially inept 13-year-old boy hopes to see in the world. Not only does being a little bit nerdy become socially acceptable within the walls of ‘Face Off’, but it becomes sought after, and that is a message that I sincerely hope Syfy will continue to send to both its viewers and those outside of their realm.

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