Thursday, July 17, 2008

Why I Love Flipping Out

Lately, Bravo hasn't exactly been the beacon of positive gay stereotypes. Despite the fact that Bravo is the gayest network on TV, most of the gays that have been coming from their multitude of reality shows (mostly inspired by Project Runway) have been of the annoying, "super bitchy gay" type. My arch nemesis Christian from last season's Project Runway proved to be a break out hit and already you can see his influence on the latest seasons of Shear Genius and Project Runway (which only premiered last night!).

Thank the Lord then for Flipping Out, Bravo's reality show about house flipper Jeff Lewis, his business partner Ryan and his quirky employees. The premise of the show is remarkably simple- Flipping Out documents the houses Jeff and Ryan buy, the renovation of said houses and their attempts to sell the houses- but is so much fun because of Jeff's OCD, extremely high standards and general oddball behavior.

Tuesday night's episode left me amazed at how far away Bravo is getting from their usual stereotypes with this show. After catching house manager Chris Elwood fooling around instead of working on the nanny cam he had installed, Jeff fires him and then tries to find a way to tell his assistant Jenny (Chris's wife) without hurting her too much. She was devastated and Jeff understood (somewhat). Through the course of the episode, we come to find out that the two of them are planning on getting a divorce. Jeff wants to be supportive and really tries his hardest (which, as Ryan points out, may seem generally meh compared to other normal people) but after a couple of screw-ups by Jenny he just can't seem to take it anymore. He's yelling and treating her like crap again, even though he knows it's probably not right to do it. And then, after he buys her a massage to relax after, he admits that he did that because he's not good at hugging people or empathizing with others.

Where most of the gays on Bravo would have been "Girl, come over and give me a hug" while sobbing his little heart out, Jeff doesn't really know how to react to Jenny's misery. It felt so refreshing to see this because I can definitely relate more to him than any of these Christian-clones. I may not be as obsessive-compulsive as Jeff, but I'm definitely just as uptight with my feelings and do find it hard to comfort people when they are really upset or, heaven forbid, crying. I don't think I've ever seen a gay man like Jeff before in any TV show or movie and I'm infinitely happy that we are finally seeing a new perspective. So, bravo to Bravo for offering up a new look at the type of gay men we don't really see anywhere else.

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