Like any niche cable network, Bravo has been hammering at its brand, with the net cranking out one fashion-lifestyle showcase after another. Step back, though, and there’s a mind-numbing sameness to Bravo’s lineup — one exemplified by this vehicle for Tabatha Coffey. Casting the “Shear Genius” hair maven as the equivalent of food-throwing chef Gordon Ramsay, “Salon Takeover” is another “diva to the rescue” exercise, destined to be followed in September by “The Rachel Zoe Project,” a tiresome red-carpet saunter peering over the celebrity stylist’s shoulder. Despite recent successes, it may be high time for Bravo to consider a facelift of its own.
Coffey knows the drill: In a manner reminiscent of Ramsay in Fox series “Kitchen Nightmares,” she descends on a struggling salon; announces, “I’m Tabatha, and I’m taking over”; and then puts the staff and owner through hair boot camp, dissecting where the operation has gone wrong. Eventually, she dispenses her verdict — she has a week to “change everything” — brings joy to Mop-ville and rides into the Long Beach sunset, like a gunslinger with platinum-blond bangs and a dominatrix disposition.
Admittedly, the poetic joys of hairstyling elude me, but even if Coffey’s all that, the new agey platitudes (“She feels this business”) grow tedious rather quickly, and the solutions are predictably simplistic.
Then again, a similar ailment seems to be afflicting Bravo in general, as the channel has taken “Project Runway’s” popularity and run with it to absurd extremes — throwing one docu-soap, fashion rescue or primping competition after another at the same narrow target.
Others, meanwhile, are crowding into the same wading pool — most obviously TLC, whose latest Bravo wannabe, “Who Are You Wearing?,” also premieres this week. In it, four unproven designers concoct a dress for a celebrity (or as close to one as the show can come) to model on the red carpet.
TLC has made few inroads thus far, and Bravo’s mainstays have put the NBC-owned channel in a position of relative strength. Yet that’s precisely why the net should begin contemplating where it goes from here now, before the “Insert designer A into format B” template is worn completely threadbare.
Until then, brace yourself for the fabulous Tabatha and fast-lane resident Zoe. If you have the time or inclination to tell them apart, you’re probably just the kind of viewer Bravo has in mind — one with an insatiable appetite for fashion and, when it comes to programming, an open mind toward cheap knockoffs.