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Baby Crazy: An Advance Review of Tonight's Season Finale of "Flipping Out"

Over the past three seasons, I've waxed enthusiastically about the charms of Bravo's unscripted series Flipping Out, which wraps up its third season tonight.

Nominally about OCD-afflicted real estate investor Jeff Lewis and the quirky employees of his spec business, the series is in fact a deft portrait of a meticulous businessman and the eccentric individuals that he surrounds himself with. It also happens to be one of the funniest programs, scripted or unscripted, on television, thanks to the biting sarcasm of Lewis, the general awesomeness of his indefatigable right-hand-woman Jenni Pulos, and his surly housekeeper Zoila.

While I find myself laughing aloud (sometimes until it hurts) each week, every now and then a rare beat of genuine emotion makes its way into the mix on Flipping Out, lending an aura of poignancy and heartache to an otherwise sunny (if, thanks to Jeff, stressful) series.

I had the opportunity to watch an early copy of tonight's season finale ("Baby Boom") and found it to be both hysterical and heartbreaking in equal measure, leaving the viewer with no doubt that the story of Jeff Lewis, Jenni, and Zoila still has a hell of a lot of mileage left in it. (I have no doubt that the series will be renewed for a fourth season.)

I don't want to give too much away about this fantastic season ender but I will say that it's potentially a time of major change for Jeff Lewis, as he ponders whether to sell Valley Oak and get his spec business back off the ground. Still haunted by suspicions that business partner Ryan Brown had siphoned business from him via some rather shady goings-on, the specter of distrust hovers over the action even as Jeff throws an elaborate and over the top third birthday party for Ryan's daughter Chloe.

Jeff and Ryan's friendship has been one of the backbones of the series since the very beginning and having them not speaking puts a bit of strain on everyone involved, given Jeff's desire to remain a part of Chloe's life. His efforts to give her a dream birthday party can be seen as a bit of a gesture toward reconciliation but he's refusing to let go of the nagging suspicion that's eating away at him.

Still, that doesn't stop Jeff from making a jaw-dropping request of Ryan that will have many people questioning his judgment... just as Ryan himself does. I don't want to spoil it but I will say that it connects in a way with Jeff's sudden (and growing) desire to have a child as he quickly approaches forty.

It's this desire and his relationship with little Chloe that add a patina of sadness and despondency to the episode, particularly in the final moments of the season. With Ryan considering moving his family to Santa Barbara, there's a sense that everything Jeff knows, his entire support system, might be crumbling down around his ears.

Of course, there's always the adorable and hilarious Jenni by his side. Providing one of the funniest moments of the season, Jenni's storyline nicely dovetails into Jeff's, offering another affecting look at someone who is at home with children but lacks one of her own. Jenni's quest to find a partner, after the dissolution of her marriage last season, has been a throughline this season but her donning of a lizard suit at Chloe's birthday is both a triumphant moment of joy and a depressing reminder of how hard it is to find love in this world.

With the curtain about to fall on the fantastic third season of Flipping Out, I'm really going to miss the eccentric gang at Jeff Lewis' office and tonight's season finale left me hanging on an unexpected note of melancholy that I just can't shake off. Here's to hoping that Bravo brings us more Flipping Out... and soon.

Flipping Out Preview: Lowering Valley Oak:

Flipping Out Preview: Jenni the Surrogate:

Flipping Out Preview: Buena Park is Done:

Flipping Out's third season finale airs tonight at 10 pm ET/PT on Bravo.


Bella Spruce said…
Thanks for showing this show the love it deserves. I've grown very fond of Jeff, Jenni, and the rest of the gang and agree that, while this show is hysterical, there are some poignant moments that make it even more satisfying. Not since Arrested Development have I cared so much about a dysfunctional TV family!
NicholasJ said…
From last week's preview it made it seem like Jeff was adopting a kid. If that's true, then I'm afraid. Very afraid!

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