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Know Your Onion: Why I'm Still Hooked on Bravo's "Flipping Out"

Jeff Lewis is clearly insane. And yet I can't stop watching him.

I'm talking about the focus of Bravo's docudrama Flipping Out, which wraps its six-episode run on Tuesday night. I've been a pretty outspoken champion for the quirky (and at times soapy) reality series, which follows the travails of OCD-suffering "real estate investor" (i.e., speculator) Jeff Lewis, his business partner Ryan, and Jeff's troika of long-suffering assistants and lethargic maid Zoila.

The reason I am writing today is about onions. Yes, onions. In this week's episode, Jeff flew off the handle at second assistant Bowman because he didn't check the box containing his El Pollo Loco lunch at the "restaurant" (I'll use that term loosely) and was absolutely aghast to discover that it did contain onions, even though Bowman said he had asked for no onions.

A cardinal sin, if there ever was one. But what got me the most (besides for the ingenious way that the producers bookended the episode with two different onion incidents) was what Jeff actually said straight-faced during a talking head about Bowman: "He doesn't view this work as important. And the fact is ordering my lunch without onions is important. It's very important."

You are kidding, right?

Sure, I work in the entertainment industry where people have been fired for not requesting soy in their bosses' Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf lattes, but even I found this slightly over the top and it felt like something that Michael Scott or David Brent might have uttered without thinking. Jeff needs to get some perspective, stat. Especially as he seems incapable of doing anything by himself, whether that's taking his own cat to the vet (he felt like he deserved a medal for that one, earlier in the episode) or removing said onions from his lunch, a task better left to Bowman to do over the kitchen sink, along with any rice that the onions may have inadvertently touched.

(Loved that loopy maid Zoila thought that the passive-aggressive Jeff was praying when he sat there, starring incredulously at his onion-laden meal.)

And yet it's these very same scenarios that have kept me glued to the television week after week to watch Jeff's assistants and everyone around him flounder in his wake. In a town as notoriously abusive as Los Angeles, it's perhaps reassuring to see that even assistants on reality TV series can't escape from the tyrannical rule of the oppressive overlords... even though what they should be doing is running as fast as they can and get as far away from Jeff Lewis as possible.
"Flipping Out" airs its season finale Tuesday night at 10 pm on Bravo.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: NFL Football (CBS; 8-10 pm); My Name is Earl/30 Rock (NBC); NFL Football (CW, 8-10 pm); Ugly Betty (ABC); Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (FOX)

9 pm: The Office/Scrubs (NBC); Grey's Anatomy (ABC); Don't Forget the Lyrics (FOX)

10 pm: Without a Trace (CBS); ER (NBC); Men in Trees (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8:30 pm: 30 Rock.

It's Televisionary's favorite new comedy from last season. On tonight's repeat installment ("Cleveland"), Floyd (Jason Sudeikis) asks Liz if she would ever think about leaving Manhattan and moving with him to the Midwest, while Jack takes off with Phoebe (Emily Mortimer) for Paris and perhaps a quickie wedding?

9 pm: The Office.

On tonight's repeat episode ("Women's Appreciation"), after Phyllis is, er, confronted by a flasher, Dwight and Andy team up to catch the predator, while Michael, who has some personal problems of his own, attempts to comfort and console the women in his own unique style: by taking them on a very special outing.


This show is suprisingly funny and entertaining and really well put together. I actually hope they do another season!
Anonymous said…
I've been really enjoying this show, thanks to your recommendation. It's quirky and fun and very soapy. I only wish Bravo had done more than 6 episodes.
Anonymous said…
I can't watch this show, maybe because I am terrified of Jeff Lewis' lips. And the fact that he is an enormous ass.
Unknown said…
I LOVE this show. It always has me SCREAMING out loud - Jeff's clean freak tantrums, his absolutely insane treatment of his employees... and Jenni and her gorgeous husband and the others, most incredible of all - put up with his tirades and nasty condescension. What is wrong with his employees? Do they have so little self-esteem that they cannot draw a line for Jeff Lewis and say "if you EVER treat me like this ever again, I will simply quit and never speak to you again" - but I guess if they did that the show would be a lot less interesting. As it is, Jeff Lewis comes across in the show as an unforgiveable self-centered ass who really has no friends at all (and deservedly so).

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