When nerdy things become popular, people get happy and they want to see more of this world. When cosplay began to become more and more popular, specifically over the past ten years; people indeed wanted to see more of this strange and amazing community. Unfortunately, bringing some things to television distort what is being represented and can drastically change it. This is what happened to cosplay.
When the Syfy Channel announced a reality television documentary of the cosplay world, many people (including myself) were excited for it. Cosplay had spent a lot of time in the dark recesses of nerd community, so cosplayers thought that it would be a great chance to bring it to more and more people.
Heroes of Cosplay was released in 2013, and starred big name cosplayers such as Yaya Han, Holly Conrad(or Commander Holly), and Jesse Lagers. However, the cosplayers who watched the first episode were not proud or happy with the show. No.... they were mortified.
Heroes of Cosplay essentially painted the cosplay community as drama queens and moochers, not having jobs at all (well Yaya Han doesn't count, since her job is cosplay). For example, one of the cosplayers was allergic to wool but decided to use it in her cosplay anyway. When the doctors show up to check to see if a near passing out cosplayer was alright, they had no choice but to pull her from the Masquerade (a convention's cosplay contest). However, it was edited so that the doctors were the bad guys of the situation.
The show also created a lot of drama that was not necessary. You see, every cosplayer knows one single fact: NEVER START YOUR COSPLAY TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE CON. However, in every single episode, the cosplayers are starting their cosplays two weeks from the convention (even when they are making armor). The reason why you never start that close to the con? It's just like procrastinating on a college paper, you aren't going to finish unless you pull a hail mary.
It even gets worse, with allegations of the Syfy crew rigging some of the contests so that their cosplayers would win over the others; cosplayers worrying about making costumes that they had made before the series even began; and the show was focused on the competition rather than the community. The cosplay community is very accepting, seeing as it was swept away from mainstream culture for decades. But this show does something so cruel, so unforgivable, that it immediately lost the respect of the entire community.
The crew edited what Yaya Han said so she said that "a 300 Pound Guy shouldn't cosplay as Superman.". With so many cosplayers having to deal with cosplay bullying, fat shaming, and problems with who they cosplay as compared to their body types and skin color; It's astounding how they thought that the community would get behind it.
Heroes of Cosplay is near universally hated by not only the community, but some of the cosplayers who were on the show. They agreed that as a whole, it misinterpreted cosplay. It has even spawned its own meme, telling Syfy how their 'Heroes of Cosplay' aren't liars and cheats.
The worst part is the ripple effect that happened to the cosplay community after the show ended. I talk to people often, out of personal experience, who refuse to cosplay because they have heard about Heroes of Cosplay and they don't want drama. I have to drag them to conventions and show them that it isn't like that. It even started a whole movement to stop cosplay bullying (something I talk more in depth about here).
The community can only hope that another show will take up the helm and properly show what cosplay is truly about.