Episode two of Syfy’s new series, Fangasm, loses no time continuing on being relevant by discussing the hot-button topics currently facing fandom, this time they launch into the nearly ubiquitous topic of “cosplay is not consent,” (and we'll get to that bit in a few paragraphs).
After Andrew returns, the episode has this episode’s contest related to the cast’s “internship” to the producers of Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo, this time the challenge is to create viral videos to help promote the event. The cast members join up into teams and set about creating their videos, to various levels of success. They range the gamut from clever sci-fi references (a Stan Lee riff on an Alien chest-burster scene), to terribly recited flash cards with stick figures.
Thus far across the first two episodes the weakest segment of the show is this attempt to try to put in their spin on “the apprentice” format. There’s no eliminations, and there’s no particular apparent reward for winning or failing at the Comikaze challenge. Regina Carpinelli, the event’s CEO comes across at least on the series as not particularly likeable – from her sending fan Andrew Duval off to fetch herself and one of her assistants’ coffees. It’s entirely detached from the challenges, seems random and punitive. She may well be delightful in real life, but thus far, the show doesn’t really have her or the tasks she sets in a positive light
For those who don’t do well Regina berates them for not taking the videos suitably seriously enough – but she fails to even address the question that it might have also just not been their strong point or particular skillsets.
Once we’re past the viral video challenge, we roll back to the fan house, and we see them continuing to bond as a group and as friends. Not all goes completely smoothly as Mike Reed and Molly McIsaac get into a spat over the topic of women cosplaying characters who have “sexy” costumes. Mike suggests that if a woman dresses in a sexy outfit, then they should have some awareness of what kind of reaction by men they might expect. She retorts that his answer is slut shaming female cosplayers. It continues for a bit, with them separating to allow tempers to cool. Mike, in an attempt to reconcile and for the sake of peace in the house, reaches out to Molly and apologizes.
This week’s special guest is none other that Next Top Model’s season one winner, Adrienne Curry. As the fans eagerly await her arrival, Molly comments that she’s hung out with Adrienne previously at convention events, which some of the men muse is just boasting, but when she arrives at the house, Adrienne immediately recognizes her, proving that she was indeed telling the truth.
During her conversation with the fans, the topic of cosplay and consent is again brought up, and they ask for her opinion. She replies that she’s actually had her ass grabbed at conventions by far more women than men, and to an extent agrees with Mike’s view.
I’m sure this whole segment will have people posting and tweeting aplenty, but again, I think it’ll be in a productive way rather than just flames. Neither side is wholly dismissive of the other, but addresses that there’s the underlying question of what is appropriate and what isn’t. I’m going to refer to the moment in Heroes of Cosplay during the Jessica Nigri episode where Monika Lee sees Jessica on the show floor, and by way of greeting goes up to her and grabs her boobs. This isn’t the kind of thing to show on one series, and then expect some people to think, ah-ha, so that’s acceptable behavior.
As the conversation continues, it shifts to how the women were more experienced with relationships and dating than many of the men in the house. The men gave the stereotypically expected responses of geek and nerd guys – shyness, lack of confidence, nothing to talk about, etc. Adrienne offers to take them out that evening to a local area bar, and help them work on their game.
During the conversation, Sal Fringo slips out of the living room and into the girls room, only to emerge a few moments later and heading off to his own room. Dani Snow gets curious and goes to investigate and discovers that Sal had left a drawing he’d made for her on her bed. She goes to talk to him about it and he becomes bashful and tries to insist that one of the others had drawn it for her.
Paul Perkins and Sal both muster up the courage and head on out to meet with her, and she has a long chat with them about why they’re nervous, what their approaches might be. Seeing a pair of women at the bar, she challenges Paul to go up to them and just talk to them. He goes up and gives it his best shot, and they both respond positively. A few minutes later, Sal comes up to join in the conversation and the success level begins to drop off. After a while Adrienne goes up to join them and asks their opinion on his approach. On a scale of 1-10, they both rate Paul very highly, and only comment that he just needs to be more confident.
In all, it’s a great conversation, and something that nerd guys everywhere should take to heart. There will be undoubtedly be people who lambast the approach and advice that Adrienne gives the fans, but my own opinion is that she is completely on the money.
On the return back to the house, Sal decided to put some of his new training into play and goes to tell Dani that he likes her and would like to take her out on a date. Again, this show has what so many others have been lacking, and that’s a level of sincerity and honesty both about the people involved on the show as well as what being part of geek culture is like for men and women. The challenges they face, the presupposed notions, and that times, they are a-changing. [Yes, that’s an intentional Watchmen movie reference)
Another fun episode with its heart on it’s sleeve. Airing Tuesday night on Syfy, check your listings for showtimes.