Upon first hearing the title of the show "Whisker Wars," Alive Assistant Editor - and cat lover - Heather Gross immediately assumed it was about cats doing battle.

Upon first hearing the title of the show "Whisker Wars," Alive Assistant Editor - and cat lover - Heather Gross immediately assumed it was about cats doing battle.

And while cats donning helmets, shields and swords to fight "300"-style melees would be awesome, "Whisker Wars" - a new reality series on IFC about the competitive "sport" of bearding - is also pretty interesting.

Yes, the men who grow ZZ Top beards consider it a competitive sport. Sure, bearding requires quite a time commitment, but I'd hardly call it a sport.

And maybe it's not epic-cat-battle fascinating, but "Whisker Wars," (from "Deadliest Catch" producer Thom Beers), continues IFC's admirable attempt to create out-of-the-box programming with just enough snark to appeal to a hip, young audience (see also: "Portlandia," "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret," and "Rhett & Link: Commercial Kings").

Germany has long dominated the world in beard growing, but Californian Jack Passion has taken the last two world titles in the most respected category, Full Beard Natural, with his massive swath of scarlet whiskers.

Now, longtime beardsman Phil Olsen has organized a best-of-the-best team of bearded Americans for the upcoming World Championships in Norway.

Passion is the clear favorite, especially to Olsen, and that draws the ire of other team members, most fervently those in the Austin Facial Hair Club.

The Austin contenders believe their state is the Mecca of bearding because facial hair legend and ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons - who judges a competition in the fourth episode - is a Texan.

But their main issue is with Passion going "professional" by hawking a book and accepting endorsement deals. This drama is one of the most interesting and frustrating aspects of the series.

It's hilarious that the gruffest, manliest-looking men - who, besides Passion, seem damn likable - resort to "Real Housewives of New York City" jealousy and cattiness. But it's also somewhat irritating, considering it's a trope reality shows commonly employ to create drama.

I wouldn't call "Whisker Wars" appointment television, but I'd be unlikely to keep flipping when I came across it while channel surfing.