We’ve never made any secret of the fact that we love Jeff Lewis, who rates with us as an immensely talented and driven individual. He also happens to be one of the very best personalities on all of television and has been since “Flipping Out with Jeff Lewis” first aired some 5 years ago. Our respect for Jeff was tarnished, as you may know, during the last season of FOWJL because of how mean he was to Sarah and Trace, and how we felt this turn was affected by Jeff’s partner Gage, who seems manipulative at best and who is, in truth, completely unlikeable. That’s our opinion, sure, but it is obviously shared by the viewing audience. The Gage feedback is decidedly negative, and with good reason. We can tell by all the traffic we get to our page based on negative Gage internet queries.
It takes a special sort to put daggers into people’s backs, to submarine Jeff’s family members, and to sneakily sift through a rival’s email, and then use those findings to prompt his firing. We aren’t going to like Gage. That’s how it is. The people who love Jeff won’t ever like him. Fact. But Jeff is a person with a right to happiness, and he likes Gage, and needs him as a steward for his business, as a hatchet man for dead wood.
In fact, we feel Jeff has a greater right to happiness than most because he provides us with so much quality entertainment. The flap with Ryan exploiting Jeff’s name was legitimate, and it obviously hurt Jeff very badly. It was a double whammy, for reasons of breach of trust and because it effectively ended Jeff’s relationship with Ryan’s daughter, to whom he obviously became quite attached. Jeff, for all the bluster, and brutal honesty, perhaps may be closer to the “fragile little turtle” that Kelly, a “shamanic therapist” who was featured in a recent episode of the new Jeff Lewis hit “Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis” suggested. And therefore he needs a guy like Gage to be the heavy, to have his back against the incompetence of the Sarahs of the world, and of the time stealers like Trace, who in all candor, Jeff is probably too nice of a guy to fire.
Lewis has built a loyal fan base on the strength of his talent, wit, straight talk, and of course, because of the epic flip outs. But last year, it seemed over the top. Even when Jeff had set up spy cams that led to the breakup of Jenni’s marriage, you never got the sense that Jeff was a mean guy. Jeff was mean to Sarah though, and in fact, bludgeoned her with meanness so repeatedly, that she wisely felt relief when he let her go.
But that’s the show, now more than ever. Jeff isn’t flipping houses. He’s just flipping. While the fans have a right to criticize the show, it would be hypocritical of us all to be too hard on him for doing that which he does perhaps even better than design: nag, criticize, complain, badger and even bludgeon.
So we apologize to Jeff Lewis for our heavy handed criticisms. Either way, we are married to his endeavors as we are often mesmerized by the force of his personality, the more so when he is flipping out uncontrollably. While we criticized the show, especially when he was so mean to Sarah and Jenni, suggesting she could also be fired, we should not criticize his personal life.
This is not to suggest that the show has gotten out of hand, but in looking at IT, it is clear that Bravo has found a new medium and a great outlet for Jeff to do his thing. Perhaps it is an even better outlet than Flipping Out which at times has become tedious because of the more contrived, repetitive, and played out aspects of the show.
How much Chaz can we really take, after all? How much can we take of the same jobs and storylines that drag on from season to season? What about Sarah’s trap bachelor party and similar antics, such as what we feel was his rift with Jenni, probably done mostly for the cameras?
How much abuse should Zoila be subject to, after all?
So we love Interior Therapy because Jeff gets to do what he does best: flip out and design great spaces. The formula for the show is a winner, providing Jeff new people to complain about each week, thereby sparing Jenni and Zoila the abuse, and has subtracted the most hated part of the equation, which obviously is Gage.
And when Jeff gets to work in these homes and on these people, the things that come out of his mouth are priceless. A few weeks back when re-doing Kelly the shaman therapist’s office, Jeff immediately hit on the bane of Kelly’s existence, her relationship with her ex-husband, who had moved out 5 years prior, but whose stuff dominated the home. As soon as Kelly declared her love life complicated, Jeff followed with a barrage of questions, ascertaining that Kelly’s ex Armand was seeing other people. Cut to Kelly, who declared to the camera that she was uncomfortable being grilled about her love life. Cut back to Jeff, launching more and more questions, declaring the odd relationship “fascinating.” Cut to Jeff again, now telling the camera that obviously Kelly needs to move on, that the guy sees other people and that Kelly is in denial.
Then Jeff discovers a load of rat feces in Kelly’s office space, sending Jeff’s OCD into high gear. When Jeff and Jenni pack the family off so they can complete their work, a necessity because Jeff refuses to try to explain to somebody that they don’t need 9 pairs of tweezers (Kelly is also a horder), he begins to go through the entire house with a huge trash bag, throwing all kinds of senseless shit away, while admitting he is unable to stop.
Jeff then focuses on the fact that Kelly keeps old fortunes from fortune cookies.
“Jenni”, he says, “do you save your old fortunes from fortune cookies?”
“Kelly does.” Then Jeff discovers another old fortune and blurts out, “Look. Another fucking fortune!”
Jeff has been fairly diplomatic with some on the new show, at least to their faces. Some of the time. We can’t say he was too diplomatic with Ross Matthews, with whom he butted heads with repeatedly. But who in the audience could stand Matthews’ grating personality and bully attitude? The only person around who could stand up to him was the one who did. Jeff Lewis.
With nicer people he has looked to massage situations a bit more, yet when it’s just him and the camera, or him and Jenni, he speaks his mind. That type of talk is well worth the price of admission. Like when Jeff declared a few weeks back that the home he was doing did not have one nice possession and that everything needed to be thrown away, suggesting that not even charities would want that stuff donated. Or how when last week Jeff made fun of the very annoying Brit who repeatedly questioned Jeff’s taste, yet wore eccentric, over-sized bow ties. Jeff told Jenni he couldn’t look at “another stupid fucking bow tie” and also complained “I hate these people.”
Jeff has dealt with more than one horder, several momma’s boys, domineering women and men, and other difficult personalities. And in short spans of time, has done everything he could to set them all straight personally, while also taking care of their homes. He has also cracked us up in the process.
That’s why Jeffrey Lewis is the man, and why almost any JL driven show would work. Kudos to Bravo for finding the perfect vehicle for this great talent. They have channeled Jeff’s energy toward less static situations and different families and we may even feel the new show is a better one than Flipping Out, especially since Gage was added to the cast.
In fact, Jeff is flipping out more than ever. He’s just not making us cringe while doing so. Neither is the smarmy, duplicitous, officious Gage who stars by his exclusion, positively conspicuous by his absence.
Speaking of traffic, we’d like to thank our loyal readers and others for their patronage. On Wednesday we had 69,000 plus to this site. But don’t worry. We are not about to go big time on you!