Makeup is something that almost everyone interacts with in some way at some point throughout their lives, but with the rise of social media in the past decade or so, it's become an entirely new monster. And, luckily for us, there's a new show that dives into makeup's longstanding importance while also exploring what makes the industry so interesting in the modern world. Kim Kardashian's show Glam Masters will teach you something while both celebrating traditional makeup skills and embracing the effect of social media influencers who are racking up thousands of followers for every smokey eye they post.
As someone who knows frighteningly little about makeup but is still entranced by these artists who are able to pull off sensational looks with a few swipes of a brush, I am already living for Glam Masters. The beauty competition show is executive produced by reality queen and cosmetic mogul Kardashian, and in its first episode sets precedent by valuing a good selfie angle just as much as it does the most intricate details of application technique. Glam Masters makes its perspective abundantly clear right off the bat as four contestants work to pull off a difficult makeup feature while at the same time capturing the dynamic moment with the front-facing camera of their smartphones.
The look has to not only be stunning in person, but also photograph well enough that it will stop the average Instagram user in their tracks if it comes across their feed, emphasizing the nature of the industry as it exists today. Even in challenges which don't involve selfies and instead have artists transforming models — like the three that follow the show's first task — it's clear that the look is meant to hold its own in a photo. The model is shown to viewers both through the steady video shot as they face the judges, and as a still photo, highlighting the differences those two points of view can display.
It's worth noting that, from the get-go, the tasks accomplished by these artists aren't exactly anything most of us would slap on our faces before we head out on a date. They're avant-garde, challenging looks, some of which could have stepped out of an art museum and right onto the models' faces.
The show's format itself also allows viewers to become sucked in from the inception. Four artists compete in each episode, and one is eliminated after every challenge. At the end of the hour, the makeup wizard who comes out on top moves onto the semi-finals, featured in a future episode, and continues to compete for the grand prize — a makeup deal with Kardashian herself, for a limited collection featured within her KKW Beauty line. The rounds are quick and snappy, never allowing viewers to get bored or forcing them to wait an entire episode for an elimination in a way similar to competition shows like America's Next Top Model or Project Runway.
And, speaking of which, Glam Masters gives off a distinctly ANTM and Project Runway-like vibe, reminding me of those shows' early seasons. It's straightfoward in its expectations, and features judges that offer extremely legit criticism and guidance. Contestants are given a platform to tell their stories, speaking to the judges about how makeup and beauty help to fill the cracks in their lives, and allowing viewers to really become invested in the fates of their faves. There are, of course, flourishes of extravagance and sometimes giggle-worthy dramatics — host Laverne Cox (who I would watch host a show about literally anything) eliminates contestants by telling them that their "glam has not been mastered," and assures them that the judges hope they "continue to lead a beautiful life" after their departures from the show.
These grandiose declarations can feel a little silly at times, but they're honestly some of the gestures that immediately endeared me to the show. Glam Masters is full of the good kind of drama — the contestants, at least in the premiere, aren't bickering with one another or existing on a set built to facilitate personal conflict — they're too busy with the real work to be at each other's throats. Glam Masters feels genuinely full of joy and creativity, and that's refreshing in a world of reality television that often thrives on arguments and hurt feelings. It's an experience unlike much of what's on TV today — an easy, lighthearted watch that at the same time remains intriguing and compelling. And, of course, it doesn't hurt that you're taking valuable life lessons away — like how to truly master the selfie. Or, you know, get sorta close to Kim K. level. Whatever works.