reality TV reviews and news

Tabatha Coffey’s return on Relative Success with Tabatha is relatively successful

Tabatha Coffey on the series premiere of Relative Success with Tabatha (Photo by Nicole Weingart/Bravo)

Relative Success with Tabatha is Tabatha Coffey’s new show on which she helps struggling businesses, but it is not Tabatha’s Salon Takeover—nor is it Tabatha Takes Over, the show it became in seasons four and five by including, not always successfully, non-salon businesses.

This is also not quite the same Tabatha Coffey from that show, and that became clear when Tabatha Coffey hugged someone.

Yes, Tabatha “I don’t do hugs” and “I don’t hug” Coffey leans in for a hug and accepts it, and it even feels warm. She doesn’t even make a sarcastic comment.

In fact, in the premiere episode, which Bravo provided to media for review, Tabatha doesn’t do much by way of directly confronting people. Her most caustic comments are reserved for interviews filmed later, not for in-the-moment interaction. Tabatha tells us that one person is “agreessively passive agressive” and says “I’m not having it,” but in the moment she just sits and has it.

That is, I will admit, disappointing for someone whose no-bullshit, zero-tolerance demeanor was 99 percent of the attraction of her original series. But people grow and change, and what’s once-refreshing and original can become tiresome schtick quickly, as Jon Taffer demonstrates in nearly every episode of Bar Rescue.

And Relative Success with Tabatha (Bravo, Tuesdays at 10) is relatively good. It’s a serviceable, watchable version a type of reality show that I usually can’t get enough of, though they have gradually disappeared or withered into parodies of themselves: Ramsay’s Kitchen NightmaresRestaurant Impossible, Hotel Impossible.

I have also seen just one episode, and the second-best part of these types of shows—besides the host’s indignation turning into support—is that there’s a new business every week. Meet people, learn about their real-world problems, have an objective outsider identify the causes and solutions, implement change, rinse, repeat.

So if one episode isn’t that great, the next one is likely to be better. That’s also a function of the fact that the production is dealing with real businesses and people, and not every problem is the most-dramatic ever, nor does everything need to be blown out of proportion.

What’s most refreshing about Relative Success is that it doesn’t hold itself up as a savior, nor does it pretend that everything has changed after 48 hours of yelling and some new furniture.

Tabatha spends three weeks with the first family business, dipping in and out. She focuses on a few issues and provides a context in which the family can start to deal with them. That’s it. It works.

“What I’m really good at is separating through the emotional baggage,” Tabatha says in episode one. She is. And the this-season-on trailer suggests she will also have several opportunities to use her verbal shears to cut down someone’s nonsense. Welcome back, Tabatha.