face off, “a force to be reckoned with”

So, last year my girlfriend tricked me into watching Face Off with her by going, “No, it’s not like a normal reality competition, it’s about MOVIE MAKE-UP” which is trickery because I LOVE stage make-up and learned how to do the at-home, Halloween-y stuff when I was a wee tween and I’m constantly talking about it in movies because I’m a pain in the ass about absolutely everything I love regardless of how little interest the people around me have in it. SORRY.

So this year, apparently, I’m going to recap/make fun of Face Off episodes because I need a project to distract me from the fact that I live in North Dakota now. (More on that later. Really. I swear.)

Here we go?! Spoilers, duh.

Also, just to clarify, this is not the 1997 action movie starring Nicolas Cage and John Travolta. This is a television show on the SyFy (Dear God, I miss SciFi) network. Sorry if I got your hopes up inadvertently. I’d never tease you like that on purpose.

This season on Face Off, the prizes get kind of better! Again! Plus they add a judge! And make it really annoying by allowing viewers to vote! BOOOOOOOOO. I hate that shit! THIS IS NOT American Idol!

Face Off really likes its TYPES and they’re all ready to go from the jump.

Alana is the a Young Punky Girl who also happens to be the girlfriend of one of the finalists from last year, Inoffensive White Guy Ian.

CC is the Beauty Make-Up who wants to move into doing more creature effects. She’s quiet, but probably the one who cries a lot.

Derek is the Tattoo Artist who looks like a douche. He is a twin. He is Tweedle Douche.

Eric is so boring, I remember nothing about what he does or says. He is Tweedle Dull.

Jason is an Inoffensive White Guy. Forgettable.

Joe sucks and is an overbearing, overeager asshole. No one will like him. SyFy liked him so little, he doesn’t have a picture or blurb. He looks like a cartoon character.

Laura is an Unremarkable White Girl. She seems nice, but forgettable.

Nicole is another Young Punky Girl. Inexperienced and there to learn and prove herself.

Rod’s the Old Timer. Tons of experience, but nice enough. He seems forgettable, but like Conor in season one, he could last and win it.

Roy’s also an Old Timer, but he’s the Fun One. Cowboy Roy.

Sarah has a desk job. She’s also an Unremarkable White Girl.

Tommy is the Long Haired Dude. He is also the whiner from the jump.

This week on Face Off, people make some weird shit and people make some really boring observations! And also Sean Astin is there! For no real reason except that at one point someone is like, “MAN HE WORKS IN MOVIES, HE REALLY KNOWS MAKE-UP.” Like, I know he’s in Lord of the Rings and all, but let’s all calm down now.

The Foundation challenge is poolside and asks that they include some dumb piece of ephemera from the Cool Hollywood Rooftop Pool Party and then there’s a close-up of like, pretzels and a beach ball. Everyone does some kind of tropical flower or bird creature or throws out words like “tribal,” “primal,” “voodoo,” or “warrior.”

Tweedle Dull and Tweedle Douche are the only particularly impressive finished pieces and they both make tropical women animal things. Samwise Gamgee awards Eric with Immunity and his brother looks kind of mad because that’s how these shows are supposed to work?! I don’t know, the first challenge is designed to be boring. Joe’s work is TERRIBLE though and he thinks he’s just too innovative for people to understand.

Everyone goes to the house and picks rooms like this is The Real World or some shit and, gratefully, they take us away from that boring shit really fast.

They head to the Spotlight Challenge and Roy the Cowboy makes some dumb observations about how they are excited to be on the 20th Century Fox backlot because they all want to work in movies. And then McKenzie says a lot of dumb stuff about Star Wars like everyone watching this show hasn’t seen it.

Their assignment is to make a modern Star Wars cantina scene character in teams because duh. And they’re going to put the winner on the GASP official Star Wars website.

The only thing that sticks out to me in this entire montage of character development is Joe the Asshole Cartoon Character TOTALLY steamrolling Long Haired Tommy in the design phase and then literally walking over and WIPING OFF part of his sculpt. Because THAT’S totally rational and not crazy or shitty and controlling at all?! I already hated Tommy because he’s a massive whiner (and the show has been on for like TWENTY MINUTES at this point) but now I am totally #teamtommy because, like, no. No you do not.


There is a brief interstitial in this commercial break where Rod the Old Timer makes fun of the two Young Punky White Girls for never having seen Star Wars. I, too, have suffered this mockery. I saw Star Wars for the first time last summer. Calm down, nerds.

But really gawd bless this show for not wasting my time with lots of stuff with them at home. I mean, REALLY. The dramatic whining and bitching and shitting on each other is the worst part of all reality competition shows, so I really appreciate that this one dispenses with it in favor of the judges getting their sweet time to shit on them during the firing squad!

Anyway, the teams start working on their designs which are something like this:

Roy & Rod: Tiny Man in a Robot
CC & Derek: Kind of Red Jazz Dude
Alana & Nicole: Lettuce Headed Sassy Waitress
Joe & Tommy: Bubble-Eyed Ballet Dancer or Something
Laura & Sarah: Bounty Hunting Badass
Jason & Eric: Pointy Headed Bounty Hunter Bro

Again, all I remember is Patrick Totopolous’ accent and Joe shitting on Tommy and then Tommy being like, STOP BEING A FUCKING DICK AND SHUT UP. And Alana running by and being like, “Life’s too short guys!” DRIVE-BY PHILOSOPHY FROM SEASON 2 IAN’S GIRLFRIEND.

Day two and there’s already yelling! This is the part of this show I hate! SHOW ME MAKE-UPS AND SHUT UP. “YOU’RE NOT FEATHERING THESE EDGES” is like, the weirdest thing to yell at someone in an argument ever. And I don’t feel that great about having to witness it.

Alana and Nicole are freaking out because they are young and inexperienced and Rod goes over and offers to help them and it’s the sweetest. Because I love when people help each other. And then Laura helps them too! I LOVE IT. FRIENDSHIP IS SO IMPORTANT. MORE OF THIS. MORE FRIENDSHIP, FACE OFF! LESS BITCHING AND FIGHTING.

Rod is Wise for Alana and it’s great. And then we get this season’s first utterance of “THROW SOMEONE UNDER THE BUS” and its variants. I HATE THIS PHRASE. Glenn said it once last season and then EVERY EPISODE someone was saying it! FIVE TIMES, TEN TIMES, ONE HUNDRED TIMES. STOP IT. STOP IT.

The Manic Model Application Period begins and I can’t pay attention to anyone because they’re all CRAZED and the editing on this show is designed to make you both nauseated and confused. Okay, REALLY, it’s designed to not show you what anyone’s make-up looks like until it’s finished even though it’s AN ENTIRE SHOW ABOUT FUCKING MAKE-UP. But I digress.

We go to commercial with Alana and Nicole’s appliances glued on but not painted and everyone else freaking out about a variety of issues including Tommy who is embarrassed and horrified because Joe was basically injuring their model while trying to glue her head on. FUN.

“Be careful with the prop please, it’s made with a lick and a promise.” ALANA I LIKE YOU?!

During Last Looks, Joe is unable to say anything to anyone other than himself that isn’t shitty or demeaning. Again, FUN.

ANYWAY, we go to meet our judges where McKenzie informs us that Patrick is going away because he’s going to Bulgaria to work on some movie that’s “hotly anticipated” or something, but no one actually cares about. GOOD WORK. Hence our additional judge, it seems.


Jason & Eric: Their Bounty Hunter is okay. The back of his head is cool and the paint looks good under the dim section of lighting, but the face paint looks like crayon under the actual lighting. Hands look like painted gloves and both the costume and the weapons are really boring. The design in general looks like a fish. But I LOVE the model. Models make or break this shit and apparently theirs rules. They only really showed them talking during the process like twice and apparently it’s because they’re dull.

Joe & Tommy: NO. I would go into detail but I don’t want to make Tommy feel worse than he probably already does about having his name attached to this pile of shit. If my mother had made this for me as a Halloween costume, I’d have refused to trick or treat. AND SHE’S IN SPARKLY UNDERWEAR?! Good god. Their model does not help.

Laura & Sarah: THIS THING RULES. During the fabrication process, they talked about their character being from the same place as Yoda and had reasoning and thought behind costume choice and coloring and that detail obvs comes through in the actual work. Her hands are cool as hell, the costume is great, her face is alien and beautiful, and she looks like she could kick your ass. They know Star Wars and they used that to their advantage. Bad ass. You go. #teamunremarkablewhitegirls

Rod & Roy: I DON’T KNOW HOW TO FEEL ABOUT THIS COSTUME. I thought I’d hate Rod and Roy but ended up really liking them and their work. This doesn’t look like Star Wars to me, but what the fuck do I know. It’s the robot element I guess?! But it doesn’t make it not a Good Make-Up, it just shouldn’t top the challenge. But, man did they create that robot suit from nothing!! I LIKE THEM WHATEVER.

Nicole & Alana: This is a deece make-up and it looks more Star Wars-y to me. My initial reaction when they were molding was that it looked like lettuce leaves on her head, but she’s really like a labia waitress and I guess that’s cool. Mostly I think this is pretty good work for artists who haven’t seen Star Wars trying to make a Star Wars character, even if it kind of looks like it should be on a live-action version of Lloyd In Space instead. Costume’s solid.

CC & Derek: Boring and poorly executed. Not Star Wars-y.

The models sell everything a little bit more when they’re doing the cantina scene, but I can’t listen to that song without feeling like I’m playing Lego Star Wars on PS2, so I can’t exactly focus.

I LOVE watching the judges poke at all the make-ups because I am OBSESSED with models being able to fully articulate their mouths while they’re glued into their appliances?! Look, I don’t know either. It’s not like I can interview my subconscious.

Jason, Eric, Nicole, and Alana are awarded with the “This wasn’t terrible, but it also wasn’t that cool. Good job being inoffensive, but also not awesome” award for the week. I’m okay with that? I thought Jason and Eric’s was boring, but it was soooooo far and above the trainwreck that Tommy and Joe the Shithead created that obviously they should be safe. IDK IDK this part is boring HONESTLY.

Laura and Sarah have to face the firing squad and Glenn is literally like, “THIS PLEASES ME” because their character has a backstory like Rick Baker did etc. etc. etc. Boooooooooooooooring. Their make-up is good and they say their nerds because they like Star Wars and I’m out.

CC and Derek are up because theirs is POORLY EXECUTED AND BORING. Their paint job killed the whole piece which is a bummer because Derek did it and his Foundation Challenge paint job was goooooooorgeous.

Rod and Roy are old and cool and everyone is excited by it and they love the dirty feet on the weird fat turkey baby alien and it’s all great blah blah blah, but what they fail to mention is that it DOESN’T LOOK LIKE IT BELONGS IN STAR WARS.

Tommy and Joe step up with their hell creature and I have to pause the TV because my girlfriend is SCREAMING because she can’t deal with how awkward it’s going to be when the judges are mean to them and even I’m not totally ready to deal with it. I should’ve had more wine. When we finally pluck up the courage to watch, Tommy’s like, “I should’ve taken the lead. I’m ashamed to bring this before you guys.” Blah blah, “I’M NOT THROWING HIM UNDER THE BUS.” and Glenn full on is like, “Uh, yeah you are.” Gawd help us all.

Then Glenn is like, “Uh, are you done?” and Tommy shuts up and then Glenn just goes, blah blah blah and I kind of check out because it’s awkward and I’m bored and I don’t like Glenn, but I also kind of do tolerate him because at least he makes legit points. But then Tommy and Joe start bitching at each other onstage and it is SO UNCOMFORTABLE that Ve Neill is like, OKAY ENOUGH SHUT UP. And then as they walk off she’s like, “That last one was torturous.”

At this point, I’m like, ROD AND ROY WERE GREAT BUT IF THEY WIN, THESE JUDGES SUCK. Because, dude, that character DOES NOT BELONG IN STAR WARS. The judges do at least have the good sense to mention how well Sarah and Laura’s piece fits into the universe the challenge required of them.

“Do you think they’re going to get rid of Tommy or Joe?” my girlfriend asks. “I hope they ritually murder them both onstage.” I answer.

THEN JOE STORMS OUT OF THE WAITING ROOM TO EVERYONE’S TOTAL SHOCK!! EVEN MINE!! And then he’s disqualified because I guess they’re still doing that thing where you’re not allowed contact with the outside world and that’s like a direct breech of that agreement. OOPS. Sorry, Joe, no one’s going to miss you. Everyone’s saaaaaaaafe. You’re safe and you’re safe and you’re safe!




Dear Future Contestants of Face Off,

There is a very good chance that at some point in your Face Off tenure, you are going to be paired with someone for a challenge with whom you find it extremely difficult to work. This person might be overbearing or demanding or weak-willed or clueless or inexperienced or a know-it-all. They may be outright shitty to you. You may have already repeatedly disagreed or failed to get along. As a result, your make-up may suffer. It may suffer A LOT. It very well may fail miserably and end up embarrassing the both of you. There is a good chance you will believe that this is not your fault, but instead lies firmly in the blame basket of your disagreeable partner. Do not, as former cast members are so fond of saying, “throw them under the bus.”

When you are called to stand before the firing squad to receive your critique, shut your mouth. Wait. Listen to each and every critique offered. Do not offer additional information until it is asked of you. NO MATTER WHAT YOUR PARTNER SAYS, DO NOT SPEAK UNTIL ASKED. There is a very, very good chance that you will be asked the following question: “Which one of you did which part of the make-up?”

Do not, no matter how strong the urge or inclination, no matter how badly you want to defend yourself, grovel, apologize, or beg to stay, DO NOT sell out your partner. Do not say, “I did whatever [insert your partner’s name] told me to do.” Do not say, “This was not my fault.” Just don’t. Say, “I sculpted the cowl and wrist pieces and painted the costume and foot appliances.” If you were largely at the mercy of your partner say, “I made myself as available as possible to help [insert your partner’s name here] when they asked for it.” And then SHUT THE FUCK UP.

I know it’s not very dramatic and that might not make you valuable to the narrative of the show and there’s a very real possibility your screen time may be limited because of it. But you get to be the bigger person and the judges and your audience will not just respect you, but probably like you. No matter what reality and competition TV editing tell you, viewers don’t like scumbags and assholes. They watch them, obviously, but they don’t like them. And if you’re going to leave this show with exposure and the hope of getting an actual professional job with other actual professionals, not being a fucking douchebag is going to help. People don’t like assholes and they sure as hell don’t want to work with them.

This is good advice. I promise. Heed it.