Will Tabatha Takes Over return to Bravo? Do Survivors choose their own clothes?

Tabatha Takes Over and Tabatha’s Salon Takeover were two of my favorite shows. Even watching them marathon-style, I never got sick of the formulaic nature of the show. With that being said, do you know if Tabatha is ever planning a return to television? That woman is amazing, brilliant, and entertaining – she deserves a return to TV! –Valerie

I was a fan, too, in part because I love the format and in part because I love Tabatha. However, the future doesn’t look good for the series.

It’s been almost a year since the show was on the air, and last season dropped almost 25 percent in ratings for people 18 to 49 compared to the previous season, which is not good at all. If ratings were great, the show would have already been renewed.

About a month ago, Bravo announced 15 new shows and 16 returning series; Tabatha Takes Over was not one of those.

A few weeks after that, Tabatha appeared on Watch What Happens Live and when she was asked if her show would return, said only, “I hope so! Wait and see!” That sounds to me like the axe hasn’t officially fallen, but that there isn’t much hope left–especially considering the ratings and the fact that Bravo has also shifted away from shows about fashion and design to shows about rich assholes behaving like rich assholes.

Even if she doesn’t return to Bravo, Tabatha has a new book, Own It!: Be the Boss of Your Life–at Home and in the Workplace, and you can always watch the first five seasons again and again. And with such a made-for-TV personality, I’d bet we see Tabatha back on our screens again sooner than later.

Is there a reason that virtually every woman on Survivor opts to wear a bikini? It would seem that a one-piece would serve them much better in challenges/camp life/etc. Do the producers force them? Or is their one chance at fame? –Mark

Producers choose what Survivor contestants wear. This is actually specified in the Survivor rulebook: page 2, section B, #1, part v: “Contestants may only arrive to the Series Location with clothing that is pre-approved by Producer.”

The reasons range from having each tribe wear similar colors to defining the contestant’s character type–even if that means having them wear something they wouldn’t usually wear, whether that’s a bikini or a sweater. Survivor South Pacific‘s Cochran, who later won, didn’t even own a sweater vest, but said producers wanted him to wear one.

Producers–in casting and otherwise–have gone so far as to actually buy clothes for certain contestants, who either send or bring clothes to have those options approved.

What’s especially interesting about this to me is that not only do viewers judge the cast based on their clothing, but the competitors use clothing as a clue to size each other up once they arrive on location. Though they are not allowed to speak to each other before the game begins, what they see others wearing or doing creates powerful impressions and even informs future alliances. (Of course, this assumes they’re all newbies, not returnees who have pre-formed alliances before ever getting on a plane.)

This is a good example of one of the ways in which Survivor carefully controls the artificial environment in which the game is played, and raises interesting questions about how real it is. Is it reality to have someone wear a sweater they normally wouldn’t wear? Does it affect the game? Or does it not really matter?

Ask me whatever questions you have about reality TV or whatever’s on your mind, and I’ll try to answer them here.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.