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Rising Tempers and Falling Houses: The Season Premiere of Bravo's "Flipping Out"

It's a good day at Jeff Lewis' office.

Longtime readers know that I have an indelible love for the kooky cast of Bravo's addictive and hilarious docusoap Flipping Out, which returned last night after a far-too-long hiatus.

The season opener of Flipping Out ("Beware of Falling Houses") featured a strangely calm Jeff (well, calm for Jeff Lewis, anyway) struggling to stay afloat in the sinking real estate market by taking renovation jobs (rather than his typical speculation-based business) yet continued to expand his entourage to include another assistant (poor, doomed Rachel), clown-haired house assistant Jett, and a design intern Trace, who appears to be a mini-Jeff in the making.

And let's not forget about the aforementioned Zoila, who continues to keep Jeff on his toes with her hysterically haughty put-out attitude and who wants to find a boyfriend for herself... leading her to inadvertently flirt with a married man working on the Valley Oak property. (Meanwhile, Jeff ribbed his maid/non-sexual life partner about her need for hangers and hoarding of pillows.)

Yet this wouldn't be Flipping Out without a major blow-out from Jeff and once again it was directed at oft put-upon executive assistant Jenni, who was ill prepared for the day (she didn't have a crucial phone number with her), leading her to call the contractor at Valley Oak and asking him to look for the contact info among Jeff's belongings. A decision which then turned into a major battle royale between the duo, in which Jeff dragged up the still-biting betrayal of Jenni's now ex-husband Chris.

While Jenni should have had that number in her Blackberry or on her person (we all know how Jeff Lewis feels about precise preparation and his need for absolute privacy), I thought it was absolutely galling that he threw Chris' betrayal in her face almost a year after the incident occurred. As you might recall, Jeff's use of hidden cameras caught Chris in the act of going through Jeff's personal belongings and revealed a side of her husband that Jenni didn't know about... leading to the breakup of their marriage. That Jeff would, a year later, continue to throw this in Jenni's face as she attempts to get her life back on track and re-enter the dating scene after ten years of marriage is not only wrong, it's outright callous.

Now I'm someone who finds Jeff Lewis incredibly funny--his deadpan sense of humor is right up my alley--but even he admits that once he gets to this point in an argument, he "sees red." And that was definitely the case here. Yes, he apologized to Jenni afterward (and I'm amazed that she kept it together as well as she did) but he shouldn't have gone there in the first place. You do need to have a hide as thick as a rhino's in order to work for Jeff.

Which brings us to Rachel, Jeff's longtime friend/new office assistant, a lethal combination that is likely to bring many, many tears in the near future. Jeff is a perfectionist and a demanding boss... and has a tendency to mix friendship and business in a way that's rather like mixing dynamite and matches. Someone is bound to get hurt and I have a feeling that Rachel is not destined to stick around Jeff Lewis' office for long.

However, Jeff seems to have discovered a slight simpatico with his new male design intern Trace (whom he calls "Tracy" and "she"), who might just be as much of a perfectionist and obsessive as Jeff himself. (Witness the iPhone checkers conversation, which resulted in Trace being 15 minutes late to work.) Last season, Chris Kesslar attempted to win Jeff over and be taken under his wing only to encounter resistance from Jeff who wanted to "groom" Chris over several years. However, Trace seems to be fitting in quite nicely in the Lewis menagerie, even sharing Jeff's appetite for dry humor. Could it be that Jeff has found a protege?

All in all, a hilarious episode that points the way toward future plot developments between the cast members and loads of stress ahead for Jeff as he attempts to keep his emotions in check while working for other people. I can't wait to see just how explosive things get over the next few episodes.

Next week on Flipping Out ("Pajamas and Other Games"), Jeff attends a pajama party; new assistant Rachel struggles to keep up with Jeff's numerous and precise demands; Jeff and Ryan's friendship hits a rough patch when Jeff accuses him of not sharing clients.

Car Fight:

Don't Turn Down Booty Calls:

Taco Tuesday in Pyjamas:


So happy to have this show back. I never thought that one of my favorite reality shows would be about an OCD guy who flips houses but I find the antics of Jeff (and his entourage) to be absolutely hilarious and heartbreaking and everything in between.
Asta said…
I couldn't believe that Jeff threw Chris in her face. It was a year ago and Jenni had nothing to do with Chris actions. But Jeff's actions did highlight that Jenni seems to be sticking up for herself more. If Jeff had attacked her a year ago as he did in this episode, Jenni would likely have been driven to tears. I was actually waiting for her to jump out of the car.

I'm curious as to why Jenni only works for Jeff three days a week. Does she have another job or is that as much of him as she can take? ;)
Barbara said…
Asta, I think she only works there three days a week because she "goes on auditions." She is apparently part of the vast wasteland of would-be actors. Although, to be sympathetic, who wouldn't want to hang on to a dream, when reality is Jeff Lewis?
But I agree with Jace, Jeff is the OCD bully we love to hate!

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