“I used to be a fun gay. I’m not a fun gay anymore.”–Jeff Lewis
Hi everyone! Welcome to Season 4 of Flipping Out. I’m taking over the recapping duties from Flipit for this season. Let’s get to it! I’ll start with a quick review of what’s happened between last season and now:
SINCE THE SEASON 3 FINALE
Jefflewisdesigns.com has turned out to be a double-edged sword. If it weren’t for the website, Jeff might still be part of his former best friend’s life. You’ll recall last season when Jeff accused Ryan Brown of diverting business from Jeff’s website to himself. All contact remains severed between them, which also means Jeff doesn’t see his niece Chloe.
But, at least the website has brought in more business. Quadrupled it, in fact! For scope, here’s a rundown of their current projects:
- Remodeling a restaurant called Casa Vega. This is Jeff’s first ever restaurant re-design. It’s in Studio City.
-Remodeling a home on Summit Ridge, in Beverly Hills.
-Remodeling a home in Royal Woods, in Sherman Oaks
-Design and construction of a home on New York Dr. in Altadena
-Renovation at Cole, the hair salon from last season where the homeless woman named Spirit was living, (but has passed away).
-Consultations in Newport Beach.
-Remodeling an estate in Fresno. The clients periodically fly him there in a PRIVATE JET.
-And finally, various other consultations…in New York City
So in other words, Jeff is waaaaaay over-committed. For those non-Angelenos out there, all these places are super far apart. It’s at least an hour between any of them during the day. I do not envy him one bit. But at least we should get plenty of opportunities to see Jeff behind the wheel. Always, always a treat.
THE SEASON 4 PREMIER
Jeff and Jenni are on their way to the Royal Woods home when Jenni gets a text. It’s from Jonathan. He’s Jenni’s new boyfriend. How exciting! Remember how Jeff said no man could fall in love with a rapping lizard?
Who’s lonely and miserable NOW, Jeff?!
Jeff needles her about it some, firing off some personal questions: did you see Jonathan last night? Was there a sleepover? What’s his favorite body part of yours? Ass man? Breast man? Both? What do you do for fun? Do you go to church and pray together? For all the sins you’ve committed the night before? Things like that.
Jeff’s playful about it, but in a talking head he reveals some concerns. Jenni seems…unfocused lately. Is this new fling of hers affecting her work performance? It better not be.
Anyone who asks out Jenni Pulos should take note: Jeff Lewis considers you an intruder in his business.
Now then, it’s over to the Royal Woods home. Want to see what it looks like?
Surprise! It looks like a house
This is the private residence of Tracy and Stewart, (only Tracy is here today). This project is relatively minor—he’s doing redesign for doors, countertops, flooring, etc. Today Jeff is showing Tracy some hardwood floor samples and has to explain how they need to find a middle ground between light-colored wood and dark-colored wood.
It’s nothing major, but that’s the problem. If this were Jeff’s own project, he’d know right away what flooring to install without even thinking about it. But because it’s for a client he has to schlep all the way out to Sherman Oaks just to walk her through the decision-making process. Doesn’t that suck? It’s minor, but that kind of irritation adds up.
At one point the phone rings and Tracy, who’s a new mom, hands her kid over to Jenni. Jeff believes Jenni is holding the baby a little too close to herself, which he starts making cracks about when Tracy comes back. Tracy and Jenni politely chuckle, then there’s a short silence, then Jenni hands the baby back over.
In a talking-head, Jeff marvels at Tracy’s “mother’s instinct” to know Jenni was holding the baby too closely. Which, of course, is actually his mother’s instinct. But let’s not split hairs.
Back at Valley Oak, Jeff is starting to find that the employees aren’t keeping up with the new business. He’s explaining to Jett all the spots around the house that need dusting–because he’s unhappy with Zoila’s performance. Obviously he does this right in front of Zoila.
You know how allergic to I am to invisible dust, Zoila!
Zoila denies she’s slacking off, but privately she pretty much admits she isn’t too thorough with dusting. Then she explains that when Jeff is berating her for it, she’s usually thinking to herself, You’re right I’m not dusting enough…bitch.
Downstairs, Jeff reprimands Sarah for not double-checking a report she prepared for him. In a talking-head, he praises Sarah for being loyal, but he also thinks she doesn’t pay enough attention to detail. But, she came to the Jeff Lewis Team because she’s family, (his brother’s wife’s sister), so he’s made it his mission to “work with her to correct her weaknesses.”
Then he discusses some marble countertops with Trace. Which goes fine, but Jeff isn’t happy about Trace’s availability overall. Trace is currently in school, and wants to have something resembling a social life. The nerve!
And finally, when he and Jenni go over a checklist for a contractor, he spots that one of the items isn’t specific enough for his standards.
What is Jeff going to do? In a talking-head, he reveals that, while the business is expanding and he’s taking on more jobs, he still wants to keep it a boutique-size company. (So you’re drastically expanding your operations but keeping your company the same size? How does that make sense?).
What this really means is he’s reevaluating what everyone brings to the table so he can figure out whom to fire. (Wait…you’re actually decreasing the size of your company? That makes even LESS sense).
Later at Valley Oak, Jeff is going over his bathroom with a contractor, when he notices a little situation in the bathtub.
This donation comes courtesy of Jeff’s cat Stewie
Obviously this is entirely Zoila’s fault, Jeff explains in a talking-head. You see, Jeff has particular pets. Really particular. They have to keep Stewie locked in the bathroom all day, (god knows why), but Stewie doesn’t like to be locked in the bathroom. This is Stewie’s way of expressing his displeasure, a shit taken out of spite. It was Zoila’s responsibility to make sure the tub has a few inches of water in it so Stewie wouldn’t do that.
And this is why a middle-aged Nicaraguan-American housekeeper must pick up cat feces without any gloves. Oh wait, I forgot to mention that earlier. Yeah, he didn’t let her use gloves when she had to clean out the tub. Have you learned your lesson, Zoila?
Zoila better hope Roomba never invents a robot vacuum that also soothes Jeff’s neuroses. She’d be out of a job.
The trend continues over at Citrus, Jeff’s income property, where he instructs Sarah to pick up some of the used Kleenex the tenants let spill out of the garbage can. Immediately after this, Bravo decided to cut to a talking-head of Sarah proudly talking about how she’s moving up the ladder at Jeff’s company. Her title and responsibilities are vague, but still, she tells us, they’re “pretty important, and stuff.”
Then they cut back to Citrus. “Eew, you smell like trash,” Jeff says as they walk back to the car. Lovely, Jeff. You too, Bravo.
Finally a glimpse of Jeff’s good side emerges over at the Summit Ridge property. This is an upscale hillside home, but the owner, Deborah, has an air of defeat about her. Jeff explains how Deborah’s previous contractor not only fleeced her, but he left the place worse off than when he started. Jeff estimates the contract took 70k from her, and caused another 100k in damage.
As they go over ideas for one of the bathrooms, Jeff asks a few questions, and Deborah just sort of shrugs and says, “Eh, it doesn’t have to be amazing.”
“No, Deborah,” Jeff says. “It does have to be amazing.” I gotta give him credit. When he figures out the right thing to obsess about, he’s a great guy.
Oh, I liked this too: as Jeff and Sarah walk away, Jeff mentions how he likes Deborah.
“Yeah, she’s a sweetsies,” Sarah replies. She talks like that, apparently.
Back at Valley Oak that evening, Jeff throws one of his “evening happy hours” for the employees. Trace explains…
“Jeff keeps us really late, sometimes ‘til nine. He doesn’t like us eating dinner, so instead he gets us liquored up.”
This seems like a generous boss-ly thing to do, but the fact that Jeff doesn’t let them eat anything makes me suspicious. My theory is, Jeff is really just liquoring them up to see if they accidentally let something slip. I have no idea what he thinks that might be, but you don’t need anything specific when you’re paranoid. Just ask Nixon.
It looks like tonight is just a normal, casual happy hour, though. Everyone enjoys their cocktails and finishes up their work for the evening, no drama. Jett, the house assistant, demonstrates the “Jeff Lewis Martini,” which is Grey Goose, olive juice, water, and blue cheese olives.
Ah, Jett. You know how to make a martini, you’re trustworthy in Jeff’s home, and you’re hot. Why can’t everyone be like Jett? Or why can’t everyone just be Jett?
The next day we’re back to Valley Oak. Jeff and Jenni are trying to get some work done and the dogs will not shut up.
Once again, this is 100 percent Zoila’s fault. You see, Jeff explains, his pets require a high level of care. Part of that is being vigilant about their behavior. They can’t be expected to behave all the time. Jeff has even provided a spray bottle, for god’s sake! Is it too much to ask for the dogs to behave when someone knocks on the door?
So in other words: “Zoila, I understand millions of years of evolution have genetically encoded dogs to alert their pack by barking whenever a stranger approaches. And I know that this ‘alerting’ behavior is the exact reason why we humans domesticated dogs in the first place. But that’s why I gave you a spray bottle.”
Next, Jeff and Jenni are on their way to an appointment. Jeff asks Jenni for a client’s phone number, and when Jenni goes to retrieve it, she realizes she wrote it down incorrectly. They don’t have it.
Here, Jenni makes a critical error in her Jeff-handling. When she begins to break the bad news, she prefaces it by saying, “You’re gonna laugh when you hear this, but…”
Oh no. No, no, no. Jeff will not be laughing. Not one bit. Jenni realizes her mistake and tries to back-pedal, but it’s too late…
Now, before I start describing the shit-storm, let’s be fair to Jeff. The client whose number he wanted is the person they’re on their way to see, and they’re running late, so he wants to call ahead. This is for the restaurant-remodeling job. It’s the first restaurant job Jeff has ever had, and it could be a career-changer. So he has to appear professional.
OK, now on to the shit storm.
Jeff asks her how this could happen, and Jenni again mis-handles Jeff by saying, “Well, mistakes happen.”
Her attitude is unacceptable. Jeff goes on to say he doesn’t think Jenni cares about her job. Jenni says she feels defenseless, because if she responded to that accusation, it would seem like she’s just being defensive and not owning up to her mistakes. So Jeff shoots back, “Well, it wouldn’t matter, because mistakes happen.”
My god, what a disaster. Honestly, when there’s a car flip-out, I don’t even blame Jeff’s cornucopia of mental problems or Jenni’s handling of the situation. It’s the traffic. You try being with alone with someone in a car in LA for several hours each day. You’d go nuts too.
But before they get to their destination, Bravo cuts back to Valley Oak. Zoila is alone with the dogs now, and they continue to misbehave. Whenever Zoila tries to use the spray bottle the dogs just bite her. So all she can do is tell the damn thing to shut up. And all the dog just keeps barking. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
Ruff! I embody all your life’s frustrations and untapped potential! Ruff! Ruff!
Bravo presented this scene as more, “Look at how tough her job is! Ha!” But god, what a depressing tableau. That’s someone’s daily existence.
Over in Studio City, Jeff and Jenni arrive at Casa Vega, the restaurant they’re going to renovate. The owner, Christy, gives them a tour. I actually find this project really interesting. Christy inherited the place from her dad, who built it 40 or 50 years ago. It’s a local institution, but it’s starting to show its age–not rundown, just out of date.
Christy knows she needs to breathe some fresh air into the place, but she also wants the redesign to honor the character her father brought to it…for instance, the giant topiary forming the letters “CV.”
Not exactly Jeff’s aesthetic. I wonder if they’ll keep it. If not, I hope they show it being destroyed, because I’ve never seen a topiary being destroyed before
But in addition to those concerns are the practical issues. The restaurant is already a success, so you can’t change the place so much it’ll drive away the clientele. And on top of that, Jeff isn’t allowed to close the whole restaurant down for an extended period of time. Instead, he’ll have to remodel the restaurant in phases, inconspicuously. It’s a tall order. I’m really intrigued to see how he balances everything.
But of course the scene doesn’t go by without Jeff injecting a little Jeff into the atmosphere. After their tour they sit down for some lunch, and instead of going over ideas for the redesign, Jeff decides to solicit Christy’s opinion on the phone number mix-up. Does she think “mistakes happen” is unacceptable, too?
Jenni returns fire…does Christy think it’s fair to tell someone you’ve worked with for almost nine years that she doesn’t care about her job?
And Christy just laughs uncomfortably and changes the subject.
Cross-FIRE! You’ll be caught up!
Back at Valley Oak, it’s evening again. Jeff explains in a talking-head that all this new work has him stressed out, losing sleep, exercising less, and drinking way more than he ever has. Tonight, to unwind, Jeff asks for some martinis. Three of them. But Zoila is the only one around to make them, and of course it goes wrong…
Jett would have the martinis on a tray. He would shake them in front of Jeff. He wouldn’t have a paper towel wrapped around the mixer. AND THERE WOULDN’T BE SO MUCH OLIVE JUICE IN IT YOU CAN’T EVEN TELL THERE’S VODKA.
Zoila, reasonably, responds that she’s…a housekeeper, not a bartender. They go back and forth with it a bit. Jeff says he wishes she Zoila was more of a team player. Zoila says she thinks Jeff and Jenni are drinking too much. All in all a normal night.
Next morning at Valley Oak, as Jeff and Sarah are loading some boxes into his Mercedes, Sarah feels a splash on her head. It looks like water is dripping off the balcony. Jeff gets all ready to lose his shit, but then he realizes it isn’t water, it’s piss. Casey piss. (Casey is another dog).
And now it’s hilarious! Unless you’re Sarah.
Later, Jeff catches Zoila on her way out of the house. Jeff has been getting increasingly irritated about her slacking off, so he wants to know where she’s going. She won’t tell. It’s clearly a personal errand. But Jeff is relentless and finally wheedles Zoila into confessing she’s getting a bikini waxing
I know Jeff was just messing with Zoila here, but I want to take the opportunity to go over the etiquette. This is a textbook case of knowing when to stop asking questions. When a woman says she’s “running an errand” and won’t elaborate, a gentleman lets the matter drop. It’s probably for her vagina.
There’s room for one more site visit this episode. Jeff and Jenni head to New York Dr. in Altadena. Here we meet Nancy and Emily, a pair of lesbians with a bunch of renovating projects. They’re very involved, very hands on, very clear vision. Not only do they know where they want the cabinets to go, they know how the drawers should open.
Emily, (left), is the funny one
Jeff, obviously, is not pleased. He feels they’re “over-building.” But sometimes, you have to know when to let go of your ego. Such is life.
Plus, Jeff says, you never want to push a lesbian too far. You gotta know the boundaries.
Before they leave, Jeff and Jenni both want to use the bathroom which, the house being unfinished, consists of a toilet sectioned off by a curtain, right off the kitchen. They squabble about who gets to go first, Jeff gives in and lets Jenni have it, and as she’s doing her business, he impishly pulls the curtain back.
This is either a classic brother-sister relationship, or a wildly inappropriate boss-employee relationship
On the way home, Jenni is texting while Jeff is tooling along down the road like normal, when suddenly Jenni looks up from her phone, sees a red light, and yells for him to stop. But she misread the situation because Jeff was actually going to make a left-hand turn and did have a green arrow. Her yell made Jeff hit the brakes and almost get rear-ended, and he has to pull over to collect himself.
And the episode concludes with another car scene. This time it’s Sarah and Trace in the Mercedes with Jeff. Out of nowhere, he starts sharing his thoughts about downsizing. He muses about who should be the one to get the axe, barely even interacting with either of them. He’s left with a dilemma, and they’re left wonder, what the shit?
And that’s the episode! Good stuff. I’m excited to see how the Casa Vega and New York Dr. remodels go, and how the firing storyline plays out. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jeff gets so overwhelmed from the work he decides just to keep everyone. Seems to me he over-thought his way into the dilemma in the first place.
See you next week!