Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

August 22, 2007

Flipping Out

Filed under: real estate,television — louisproyect @ 6:16 pm

Jeff Lewis: gay, OCD, New Age real estate flipper

On July 31, NY Times TV critic Gina Bellafante looked askance at a new reality show called “Flipping Out” on the Bravo cable network, which is based on the goings on of a Los Angeles real estate company run by one Jeff Lewis. Lewis is a 36 year old gay man with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) who specializes in “flipping” houses. Bellafante concludes her review with the following observation:

Mr. Lewis’s houses look like the generically upscale ones found in House Beautiful. He doesn’t possess style; he copies it. What he does have, by his own admission, is obsessive-compulsive disorder, and the show’s producers, to their credit, do not treat his O.C.D. as if it were a winning asset, the key to whatever success he has had. Like many sufferers of the disorder, Mr. Lewis ignores the real mayhem right there in front of him, so fixated is he on the idea, say, that all the bottles of water in his refrigerator be stocked so that the labels always face him. This is a task dispatched to one of three assistants, from whom he demands formal, written apologies when they behave insubordinately.

For years now, the comic detective series ”Monk” has equated O.C.D. with intuitive brilliance. We’ve long required a corrective interpretation, and ”Flipping Out” is it. Mr. Lewis isn’t a genius of anything. He’s just a delusional jerk.

Unfortunately, Ms. Bellafante does not get “Flipping Out.” I have begun watching reruns this week and saw the latest episode last night. It is simply the funniest thing I have seen on TV since “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” containing the same kind of absurd situations and characters. Since the characters on “Flipping Out” probably have no idea how comical they are, the humor is sharper in some ways than “Curb Your Enthusiasm” which has begun to imitate itself.

In one episode, Jeff Lewis directs one of his assistants to take his pet Angora cat, named Monkey, to an animal acupuncturist. This is Los Angeles, after all. Although the goal is to get the cat to mellow out, it throws a fit in the acupuncturist’s office and takes a bite out of the assistant’s hand. Finally, they subdue the cat and stick needles into its coiled body, wound tight as a steel spring. The unhappy animal looks like a rabid porcupine. On the way home, he berates the cat which is still hissing angrily in its carrying case. The contrast between the New Age pretensions of the people involved with this nonsense and the angry cat is almost as great as that between Jeff Lewis’s real estate ambitions and the reality of a declining real estate market in Los Angeles.

This discrepancy between the star’s lofty goals of becoming a millionaire and the real estate meltdown is what gives the show its dramatic tension. As a “flipper,” Lewis must turn over a house as quickly as possible in order to stay liquid. He is constantly in battles with potential buyers who want to drive down the price of a house he has put on the market or with his assistants who seem oblivious to his predicament. Nearly all of them are working in real estate until something better comes along–in the same way that others bartend or wait tables, until they make their big breakthrough as actors or writers. This is Los Angeles after all.

You can watch video clips of “Flipping Out” on the Bravo website. I particularly recommend the episode that includes Monkey having a fit at the pet acupuncturist.



  1. I don’t own a television, that show doesn’t me to own one. It sounds painful to watch.

    Comment by Renegade Eye — August 24, 2007 @ 5:27 am

  2. …when you stuff 932 pounds of collagen in your lips they actually invert (forming a crease in the middle) and turn into a giant ass on your face. attention jeff lewis, STOP WITH THE COLLAGEN… YOUR LIPS LOOK LIKE DOM DELUISE’S ASS… i can’t even stand to look at jeff lewis’s face because his lips are so mutilated… disgusting.

    Comment by Spencer Lord — September 1, 2007 @ 4:48 pm

  3. hey, thanks, spencer. i knew there was something funny about jeff’s lips, but i didn’t know what. just watched this for the first time last night–i was “flipping through” (channels) when i found “flipping out.” don’t know nothing about style; guess i’ll take that reviewer’s word for how trite his homes are. i’ve never seen ones like them myself.

    Comment by LindaJ — September 13, 2007 @ 2:15 am

  4. I Love Love this show and all the people…The world would be boring if we were all the same generic like oatmeal bland…I love the show and all people in it…Bravo Got A Winner !!!

    Comment by Pamela B — May 23, 2008 @ 10:32 pm

  5. I thinq that peppile with obsessive compulsive dizorder and uther proplems such az lyke this, should see a kwalified sykotherapist!! My boss, Dr. Carla DelVecchio, halps menny Hollywood Celebrities wif menny dizorders uv the mynde! Heere iz hur website:
    She treats celebrities and wutnot!
    I wish I could insert a kitty face rite heer!!!

    Comment by Petal — July 23, 2008 @ 2:18 am

  6. Anyone who can contact Jeff Lewis, have him contact NRCSAVESHOMES.org and tell him to STOP reccomending NWA – they are a major portion of the Housing Foreclosure mess. Larry LEHenson@msn.com

    You’ll be happy to know that the housing bill passed today will CAUSE 100,000’s of American Families to lose their Homes. The good news (sic): illegal criminal invaders will get them and our welfare!

    Comment by Larry Henson — July 31, 2008 @ 4:27 am

  7. A property manager dies and soon finds himself standing in front of St. Peter. St. Peter tells him “You have a choice of going to heaven or to hell and I suggest you check them both out before deciding.” So he chooses to check out hell first. He goes down to hell and finds himself in the middle of the biggest party he has ever seen. People are dancing and drinking and doing the limbo (and nobody’s doing the Macarena!). Everyone is laughing and having a great time. Next St. Peter takes him up to heaven to look around. Everything is white and pristine. People are speaking softly about philosophy and mathematical formulas. Others are simply contemplative and serene. He’s bored in about five minutes. St. Peter then says to the property manager, “I want you to sleep on it and meet me back here in the morning to let me know your decision.” The next morning he comes back and says to St. Peter, “Heaven is very nice and all, but hell looks great, so I’ve decided that I want to go to hell”. So St. Peter puts him on the escalator down to hell. When he gets there he sees Satan whipping people and there’s fire everywhere and everyone is screaming in pain. So he goes over to Satan and says “Hey, what gives here? Yesterday I came here to check the place out and everyone had me partying and it looked like a great time. What happened?” Satan looks at him and says “You used to be a property manager so you ought to know the answer to your own question. Yesterday you were a prospect. Today you’re just another resident!”

    Comment by NC Listing Service — April 23, 2010 @ 5:32 am

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