FACE OFF: The Best Reality Competition Show You’re Probably Not Watching

FACE OFF -- Episode 401 - (Photo by: Nicole Wilder / Syfy)

*~* me with my face on! *~*

I have to be completely honest, I’m really not a “reality competition show” fan. I’ve never seen an episode of The Bachelor. I stopped watching American Idol after Paula Abdul got the boot, because she was basically the only interesting part, and I haven’t seen an episode of Real World v. Road Rules in so long that most of the contestants are now younger than I am.  But that all changed one day in January of 2011, when the show “Face Off” premiered on SYFY.  You may be thinking, “SYFY?  You mean the channel I go to only to hate-watch Sharknado 2?”  Yes, that SYFY.

These were made by humans. Not robots, humans.

These were made by humans. Not robots, humans.

Face Off is a competition show in which 14 special effects makeup artists are pitted against each other to come up with the most creative and well-executed “creature designs” based on each week’s challenge.  They have a total of 20 hours over a 3 day period to sketch, mold, paint, and trick out their creations.  The winner gets a ton o’cash, a car, and a gig as a guest lecturer at makeup effects studios around the country.  Also, a huge career bump (even non-winners can come out on top from this show).

I have always had a fascination with makeup. Not that I can wake myself up in time to put it on my own face, but I did used to dream about being a make up artist for Cirque Du Soleil, perhaps falling in love with a contortionist trapeze artist, moving in with him to live happily ever after under a blue and yellow tent of eternal happiness. So, when I saw the first trailer for Season 1, I had a feeling it would be the show for me.  Six seasons later, I’m still hooked. You should be hooked too, because when more people are hooked on shows, they get better ratings, and stay on the air longer. Therefore, I present 5 reasons why you should be watching (although let’s get real, there are about 100 reasons, but I’m not in the business of writing a novel) the most creative and visually stimulating reality show out there.

#5: THE HOST, McKenzie Westmore


Pirates booty, not just a snack

The host is always a pivotal part of a competition show.  If you don’t like the host, it’s incredibly hard to watch.  Thankfully, McKenzie Westmore does not disappoint.  Not only is she well dressed, funny, and charming, but she is also the daughter of Michael Westmore, a movie makeup legend of over 40 years, so the girl actually has a clue.  She’s not just some face for the competition, she actually participates, which I personally think makes it more fun for the audience.  McKenzie also doesn’t sound like screeching nails on a chalkboard (sorry Kat Deely).  And if nothing else, she gets to present each challenge and use some really cool props.  Who wouldn’t be inspired to make a deep sea pirate when staring at that gold booty!



“Okay, so we maybe came to make friends.”

Unlike Survivor, The Bachelor/Bachelorette, or basically any reality competition show on Bravo, Face Off seems to bring out the better side of the contestants.  While many shows in this category are focused solely on the infighting (you know, the talking shit, threatening a fight, constantly reminding each other and themselves how they “didn’t come here to make friends”), Face Off stays on task and instead focuses on the actual competition.  It’s much more exciting to watch the artists try to fix a ripped mask with 15 minutes left than it is to hear two of them being catty about another contestant.  Also, they just don’t have the time!  They’re so busy trying to make their best creation, I doubt they would even notice if someone else was “giving them a side eye.”  When you’re elbow deep in poly-foam, you can’t really give someone the finger.

Yes, occasionally the contestants disagree, but any time that could be spent on hurling insults at each other is usually put towards helping one another, be it with a small design suggestion, or 3-4 people coming to another contestant’s rescue to crack open a gigantic mold before time runs out.  Watching the contestants be creative with clay and paint and all sorts of crazy technology is so much more interesting than purposely getting people drunk just so they sloppily fight each other with slurred cuss-word filled diatribes.



Sure, there’s a little movie magic in every reality show.  As my dad always says, “the moment you stick a camera in someone’s face, it’s no longer reality.” But as far as competition shows go, this is one of the most authentic on television. There’s no cast of helpers in the wings to make sure everything is perfect. These contestants actually do their own work, and it shows in the judging. If there is a mistake, it will be seen. This isn’t some Iron Chef America shit where they only have to make one plate, yet somehow four dishes appear in front of the judges. Oh and don’t forget, those guys know the secret ingredient way before they ever shoot the episode. You really see the sweat, blood, and tears from the people on Face Off and it makes for a great watching experience. There is nothing worse than watching something that claims to be “reality” and knowing all along it’s a gigantic crock of shit. Sorry Kardashians. Wait, why did I say that? I’m definitely not sorry.  I’m also pretty sure Kim’s makeup artist would win this competition, because having to layer that much cake on her face on a daily basis is probably the best practice one could have for this show.  


Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 1.42.48 PM

It passed the poke test!

The eliminations on Face Off can be pretty shocking.  Sometimes contestants are on the verge of tears, knowing in their hearts they are going home, and end up winning the challenge. Others, borderline boastfully proud of their work, suddenly find themselves at the bottom.  There are so many factors that come into an elimination that it can be quite hard to tell who will go home.  People have won the show having never won a challenge, while there are some who win multiple challenges, then end up eliminated before the final three. The unpredictability is refreshing, and really keeps the show exciting, even after 6 seasons.



This took 2 people 20 hours to make. It would take me 20 hours just to glue on some sequins

I mean, GIGANTIC FUCKING DUH. Look at this. Just look at it. This was the work of two people over ONLY the allotted time limit. To put that in perspective: it can take months for a team of people to make something like this for a feature film. Just doing SFX makeup, without having to also sketch, mold, and build the entire design can take upwards of 2 hours.  It is truly bananas how they can come up with this stuff in such a short amount of time.


Here’s more, just incase you didn’t believe me.

See!  This was done by one person.  One person to create a sketch, make the molds, paint it, apply it, and make it look like it wasn’t done by a 3rd grader.  It’s absolutely bonkers.

The 6th season is almost over, but you can bet that it’ll be back for more. I hope you all tune in, because it is definitely worth a peek. Until next time: clowns and sprinkles.

Burton collage


5 thoughts on “FACE OFF: The Best Reality Competition Show You’re Probably Not Watching

  1. Pingback: FACE OFF: The Best Reality Competition Show You’re Probably Not Watching

  2. I began watching because of judge Lois Burwell, I thoroughly enjoyed each week. Imagine my pleasure at discovering the Westmore family was involved. We go way back to when The House of Westmore was located on Sunset Blvd & and was run by Perc Westmore with help from Ola Carroll – so many years ago (the 1940’s). Hope Lois comes back for more judging.

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