Continuing its proud tradition of reality programming centered around larger-than-sane-life characters whose low-grade mental illness enhances their professional success (see Blowout's narcissistic personality disorder sufferer Jonathan Antin and Hey Paula's apparent dissociative identity victim), Bravo tonight unleashes Flipping Out and its house-renovating, compulsively abusive protagonist on the world. Notes the NY Times:
Jeff Lewis is a very scary man, and he isn't scary solely because he treats his employees like dust mites or consults a psychic to assist him in the running of his business or sends his cat, Monkey, to an acupuncturist. No, Jeff Lewis, a Los Angeles real estate speculator, evokes a chill because he is so leveraged, a man balancing multiple mortgages like bricks on a noodle.
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.
In a town with one of the highest densities of non-genius-level delusional jerks on the planet, Lewis hardly stands out. And if the best Flipping Out has to offer us in the way of abuse is the occasional chewing out of an underling and some handwritten mea culpas, we'd prefer that Bravo somehow gets its cameras into a major talent agency to document the excruciating burns suffered when an OCD-afflicted agent tosses scorching latte after latte into the face of his assistant, unable to stop until he gets it just right.