Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Glam Masters


By Ed Garea

Glam Masters (Lifetime Network, 2018) – Host: Laverne Cox. Judges: Mario Dedivanovic, Kandee Johnson, Zanna Roberts Rassi. Color, 1 hr.

For a reality series to succeed, it needs contestants who are not only passionate about what they do, but also possess the creativity to pull it off. Now add fashionable and slightly wacky and we’re moving the needle forward.

Glam Masters follows in the footsteps not only of America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway, but also Face Off on the Syfy Channel, which pits special effects artists against each other. With Glam Masters the competition revolves around fashion makeup. Hosted by Laverne Cox, it occupies a Wednesday night niche on Lifetime.     

In the premiere, we meet four makeup artists: Robin Shanael, Argenis Pinal, Taylor Steingold and Solange Nicole. Over the course of the episode they will face with three makeup challenges with one contestant eliminated after every challenge. The final contestant left will advance to the semifinals, with the ultimate prize being a collaboration with Kim Kardashian West on a makeup collection and a booth at BeautyCon.

In addition to hosting, Cox is one of the judges, along with Mario Dedivanovic (makeup artist to Kim Kardashian West), Kandee Johnson (a major makeup influence on YouTube) and Zanna Roberts Rassi (senior fashion editor at Marie Claire.) The stakes are high, as the contestants mention their number of Instagram followers. Some also discuss what makeup has meant to them – for instance, Shanael tells the judges that makeup saved her life.

In the first challenge the contestants are taken with creating a dramatic metallic drip look in one hour. Then they must take an Instagram-worthy selfie and have their makeup judged in-person by the judges.

In the second challenge they have and hour to create a look inspired by one of the seven deadly sins – the one they most identify with – on a model.

The final challenge, where the final two contestants go head to head, asks them to create makeup looks that turns their model into a living doll. a trends big on the internet.

During each challenge, drama unfolds as an artist can’t get the right lipgloss consistency to get a good drip or another sees the gold leaf applied continuing to fall off. And this is what makes the show so interesting: the level of unpredictability in their challenges draws us in and makes us feel as if they’re entirely worthy of our interest.

The judges provide technical critique along with snarky commentary. Dedivanovic is more or less the Simon Cowell of the group; Johnson and Cox play it nice and offer support.

Wearing both hats of host and judge Cox handles it superbly. She’s great at teasers such as the one after the drip challenge, when she asks,“Which of our contestants is dripping with talent, and who should be melted out of the competition?” But lest we write her off she also provides some spot-on insight. Seeing one look, Cox compares it to an Edvard Munch painting.

In the final analysis, Glam Masters entertains us with its bizarre challenges and provides the one thing a reality show needs to succeed: likable contestants and judges. I’m not a Kim Kardashian West fan, but I can’t help rooting for this show to succeed. 

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