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House Beautiful: The Season Finale of Bravo's Flipping Out

I'm going to miss Flipping Out.

The series, which features designer Jeff Lewis and his not-so-merry band of employees, wrapped its fourth season last night ("Rock, Paper and the Kitchen Sink") on a high note, with Jeff and Co. flying to New York to attend the opening of the House Beautiful Kitchen of the Year that Jeff had designed in Rockefeller Center.

After some back-and-forth with Jenni Pulos about whether or not she was invited or would attend, the entire office gang--including Trace and Sarah--arrived with Jeff in Manhattan to cap off a season of career highs and some interpersonal lows, as Jeff turned out some breathtaking work this season. (I was blown away with the beauty and luscious design of his interiors this year, displaying a confidence and poise that I've come to expect from his work.)

While this season was devoid of the sort of headline-grabbing drama that marked the third season (including that season-long feud between Jeff and Ryan Brown), it was a season that found Jeff under new pressure as his design business took off and he was constantly moving in order to keep up demands from clients.

It, naturally, lead to some flipping out on his part.

I will give Lewis credit and say that he has worked hard to improve his inter-personal skills and now tries extremely hard not to fly off the handle at a moment's notice. Change is difficult. While he still lacks empathy at times, it's clear that he's trying to control his inner demons but when the pressure mounts and mistakes happen (as they all too often do), Jeff's instinct is to go for the jugular.

It resulted in some harsh confrontations with both Jenni and Sarah, the latter of whom--who proved that just about everything rolls off her back--was reduced to tears and nearly quit working for her brother-in-law. It was a flip out of the highest order as Jeff attacked her intelligence and her brain size (!!!) after she had made an error. Which is bad enough when it's one of your employees, but when they are actually related to you by marriage, it's going to make for an uncomfortable Christmas.

Still, Jeff did reward the employees this season, giving them flashy new titles (Jenni, for example, is now the COO) and taking them on trips to Manhattan. (Hell, Zoila got a brand-new car!) It's clear that he does care for these people and does, as he said in last night's finale, consider them to be "family." And family members do fight, after all, sometimes in the same knock-down, take-no-prisoners way that Jeff Lewis does.

Jeff expects absolute perfection, from himself, from his employees, and from his contractors. When they fail to meet his expectations, they often fuel his wrath. But Jeff is also the boss. When Zoila tells him that he needs to act professionally (after reducing Sarah to a sobbing mess), it's as though it's the first time it's crossed his mind. The lines between employer/employee and work/play time are extremely blurry at Jeff Lewis Design, after all.

But despite his anger, it's clear that Jeff does care about them in his own particular way. And his issues are his own. He hates when people won't admit when they've done something wrong or when they argue with him after messing up, two things that get firmly under his skin, and, really, with good reason.

Yes, mistakes do happen, as Jenni likes to remind Jeff. But it's how you handle them, whether it's a misplaced telephone number or a lost planner, that determine the outcome. No one is perfect, after all. But we all need to take responsibility when the inevitable happens... and try to anticipate those potential errors and ensure that they don't happen.

I was glad to see that this season ended with happy families rather than more tears and recriminations. After last week's slap-happy incident with Trace and a drunk client, I was a little afraid that the company's newest full-time employee would be running for the hills (or, in this case, away from them). But the incident--while shocking and traumatic, really--did have one upside: it proved to Jeff undeniably just what Jenni's value to the company is.

Between offering a gruff alter ego (cough, Deb, cough) and a sounding board, Jenni cares about Jeff and about his business. She's good with the clients and the construction crews, offering a barrier between them and Jeff's overwhelming anger and frustration. While Jeff often wants to react emotionally, she can step in and calm the situation, smoothing things over so that they can still get what they want. Honey does win over vinegar, really.

So when things get rough and tensions flare, I hope that Jeff does realize what an asset he has in Jenni Pulos. Whether she may have misplaced something or spoken out of turn, she does always have his back. And in Hollywood, that has a price above rubies.

What did you think of this season of Flipping Out? Are you loving "sweetsies" Sarah and Trace? What's with the tension between Jet and Zoila? Was Jeff wrong not to initially invite Jenni to New York? Head to the comments section to discuss.

Fingers crossed, meanwhile, that Flipping Out will return for a fifth season next summer.


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