Makeover shows generally follow the same format: We get to know that makeover subject, finding out from friends and family about how much they need and deserve that makeover. Then we get some scenes of the makeover itself, then the big reveal. Tattoo Redo has all of these factors, but with the added fun that the makeover entails covering terrible tattoos, and the person getting the ink doesn’t get to choose the new image. Read on for more.
TATTOO REDO: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Opening Shot: Host Jessimae Peluso, who “has many bad tattoos,” tells the audience, “What happens when the person you love has a tattoo you hate? You bring them here and we cover them up!”
The Gist: In each episode of Tattoo Redo, three people bring loved ones — friends, spouses, SOs — onto the soundstage-turned-tattoo studio seeking to get one of their loved one’s most embarrassing tattoos covered up. The twist is that the person who brought their loved one in gets to select and help design the tattoo, and the person getting it won’t be able to see it until it’s done.
Five top tattoo artists are in the studio: Matt Beckerich, Rose Hardy, Tommy Montoya, Miryam Lumpini and Twig Sparks, all of whom have different strengths, but all of whom do very detailed work.
In the first episode, Matt works on Shanequa, whose friend Shay brought her in to see if a weird, dark tattoo Shanequa got from 2Pac Skakur’s tattoo artist 20 years ago could be covered. Shay decides on some flowers, including lilies, a bit scared that Shanequa won’t take to such a girly image.
Tommy works on Cody, whose girlfriend Mimi wants him to cover a horrible shoulder tattoo that Cody got when he was young and drunk at a party where someone “happened” to have a tattoo gun. It’s a poem that has the word “cum” in it. Twice. Tommy and Mimi plan a skeleton that’s getting high on mushrooms to cover that horrible poem.
Stanley and Christopher are next; they meet with Rose because Christopher wants Stanley to cover up a tattoo commemorating the date of Stanley’s now-failed first marriage. What does Christopher pick? A knife that’s going through the head of a snarling black cat, of course.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? You could say that Tattoo Redo is a makeover show akin to Queer Eye or What Not To Wear, only with stabbed cat heads subbing in for designer duds.
Our Take: There are a few reasons why Tattoo Redo is more entertaining than we expect. The first one is Peluso, who is not only funny as the host and narrator of the show, but her plethora of tattoos makes her sympathetic to the people who have the bad ink as well as the people who want the bad ink banished. She even gets one of her own bad tattoos covered up in an episode, showing how much she trusts the artists as well as the person who wanted the tattoo gone.
One of the other reasons why the show is so entertaining is the range of awful tattoos people get when they’re young, dumb and drunk. In one episode, a mother of five shows off a very roughly-drawn tramp stamp that says “FUCK U”; she’s had it since she was 14. In the same episode a woman shows a forearm tattoo that is supposed to be lipstick but her boyfriend says looks like “a dog’s penis.”
The third reason why the show is entertaining is that the tattoo artists are so damn good at what they do. Yes, we know that a process that essentially takes hours, between designing, drawing the template, then inking the drawing onto the client, likely keeps everyone in the studio for 12 hours or more. But the fact that all five artists can do such detailed work in such a short period of time is remarkable. We’re not tattoo people by any means, but if we were to get tattoos, we’d get them from one of these five artists; they use color well and truly give their clients permanent pieces of art on their skin.
Because of all of these elements, Tattoo Redo is well designed for binging, and the episodes are designed to watch in any order — you’re reintroduced to the featured artists during each episode.
Sex and Skin: Except for the skin that’s shown while everyone is getting inked, there’s none.
Parting Shot: As we see shots of the three clients after their reveals, Peluso says, “there are plenty more disasters where these come from. Come on, let’s binge this together.”
Sleeper Star: For some reason, we really loved when Cody called his girlfriend Mimi — who has green hair, multiple piercings, and tattoos all over her body — as the “sensible” one in their relationship.
Most Pilot-y Line: The artists do have philosophies on flow, even as they have to deal with covering up the bad original tattoos, but the new ones seem to be consistently much larger than the ink that they’re covering, and we’d like to find a little more about why that is.
Our Call: STREAM IT. Tattoo Redo is fun makeover show that sets the right tone by making fun of the awful tattoos people get while celebrating the artists that do an expert job of covering them up.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.