Review: Miss Lewis' Bad Behavior Makes His Good Design Work Lose Some Of It's ShineI watched the premier episode of Bravo’s Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis. The basic premise is that Miss Lewis goes to someone’s home and moves in for 5 days, while he supervises a small renovation, and redecorates the rooms. Jeff’s trusted assistant, Jenni Pulos, moves in too, while Zoila Chavez, the happy housekeeper - only makes a token appearance.
I'm known for 2 things, design and brutal honesty.
When I see a problem with the way a home is put together,It tells me there's a problem with the people who live there.
So my assistant Jenni and I will move in with families who are stuck in ugly spaces.
I'll give them 5 days of my time to fix their design, and what gets revealed isn't always pretty.
This is Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis.
I was watching and typing, so I might have paraphrased or left out a word, but that’s basically what the premise of the show is, and what Jeff says at the start of the show.
I have to say that I don’t like screaming and yelling. I think I like some of the trash TV that I watch, because the drama and arguments, fights, screaming, yelling and disrespect that’s a part of these shows, isn’t a part of my life.
Jeff Lewis says he’s known for his brutal honesty, and I don’t know if that’s a disingenuous statement, or just plain ignorance. What he calls “brutal honesty” isn’t honesty, because it always involves a tantrum, and a scolding, in order to manipulate a person and a situation. It’s a spoiled brat kicking and screaming until he wins.
Episode 1 - Almost Perfect
The clients in the first episode live in Los Angeles - just like Jeff. Miss Lewis lives in Silver Lake, and the Steinbeck family live in Brentwood, which is about 20 miles west of Silver Lake. When I read the publicity material about the show, I was under the impression that Jeff and Jenni were going to travel further afield. I hope for the viewers sake, that J & J get to leave Los Angeles once in awhile.
Michael and Felice Steinbeck have three kids, a beautiful home, and no privacy in their master bedroom. Jeff arrives to work his magic, and like a true drama queen, she creates drama and conflict half way through the project by screaming and losing his cool, and when the job is finished the Steinbeck family is overjoyed with their new closet, bathroom and master bedroom.
By the way - Michael Steinbeck calls the master bedroom the boom boom room, which makes me think that he’s familiar with the old Boom Boom Room, on PCH, in Laguna Beach.
The blow up in this episode occurs when Jeff looks at where his contractor, Roberto, has placed the shower fixtures in the wall. Jeff says the fixtures are not centered, and that they’re an inch off.
Miss Lewis: You think it's perfectly centered? Am I crazy? Jenni look at it - it's not centered.
Jenni Pulos: I don't think it's worth moving. To fight about it is stupid.
Jenni turns to the contractor and tells him to admit that he’s wrong, even if he doesn’t feel that he is, because she does that “all the time,” just to move on. Jenni thinks it’s stupid to argue about it for two hours, because they need to get the job done.
Miss Lewis: I will stay here for two hours until he admits I'm right. It's an inch off. Whose side are you on? Are you on his side or my side?
Jenni Pulos: I'm on the side of getting the job done.
Miss Lewis: I'm thinking about firing you next.
Jeff then looks at the camera away from the action for a diary room moment, and says ”I was hoping Jenni would back me up on that issue. Sometimes Jenni forgets who she’s working for and I would appreciate a little support here.” Passive aggressive anyone??? Jeff then continues the conversation with Jenni outside the Steinbeck’s home.
Miss Lewis: I don't want to get in arguments with contractors, because it creates division, and then you undermine my authority. So I'm actually thinking about firing you next. I'm serious - you have to remember who you work for. That really pisses me off. I'm not trying to be difficult I'm just trying to get it done right.
Jenni Pulos: I'm trying to help.
Miss Lewis: That wasn't helpful. You're turning on me and taking Roberto's side. Arguing with me is not helpful, because you know it's not centered.
Jenni Pulos: Actually no I didn't know it wasn't centered.
The Steinbecks must have heard all the yelling and want to talk with Jeff.
Felice Steinbeck: There's been screaming, there's been alarms, there's been floods.
Cut to the diary room and the Queen of Mean:
Miss Lewis: Michael confronted me which is huge because we haven't heard from Michael in like 3 days. I knew things were serious when Michael spoke up. I'm just going to have to be more of a presence.
The Queen of Mean even said “When I met with Michael and Felice they wanted to air their grievances with me, and I was very very uncomfortable and physically sweating.”
Really Miss Lewis? Imagine how Zoila, Jenni, Jett, Trace and Sarah felt when you were ripping them a new asshole.
I thought it was funny that the Steinbecks decided to go to a hotel! (It looked like the Sunset Marquis but I could be wrong about that).
We cut to Jenni in the diary room next:
Jenni Pulos: Jeff will blow up about a problem, but he always finds a solution, and that's what makes him a genius.I disagree with Jenni on this one. Miss Lewis is a lot of things, and genius isn’t one of them. Jeff solves problems because they benefit his business. He creates drama because that’s what he’s done, probably since he was a kid, to get what he wants. If he was a genius, he’d have a psychotherapist on a permanent retainer.
It’s now time for the big reveal. As usual, Jeff and Roberto and Jenni finish the job. The bathroom, master bedroom and new closets look fantastic.
Miss Lewis: It looks very expensive.
Felice: A real shower!!!
Michael: More boom boom in the boom boom room!
Obviously you can judge for yourself - but I really think that the “Queen of Mean” is a very good interior designer. Unfortunately, the bloodied and bruised that she leaves in her wake is so unnecessary, and in the end makes his work lose some of it’s shine.
My Verdict: C
I give the first show a “C” for just being average. Flipping Out was much more compelling. Aside from the fact that the “Queen of Mean” flipped out in every episode, we came to care about Jenni and Zoila, Jett, Sarah and Trace. That’s why we continued to watch. This show is more of a "Changing Rooms" type show, where Miss Lewis transforms a space, and presto - there’s a big reveal at the end. Is it must see TV? No. Admittedly, this was just the first episode, and I'll watch the next few episodes - I'm sure - before I commit to watching every episode.
If we're supposed to empathize with the clients, they're going to have to steer clear of Brentwood and Beverly Hills. The Steinbeck's home was beautiful before Jeff arrived. How many viewers noticed the sub-zero appliances in the kitchen? I thought the leaks and plumbing snafus were more comical than dramatic. If they sent Jeff and Jenni to remodel a double wide, or out to the Bible Belt, that’s the show that I want to see.
In a real world situation, there would be plans that a licensed architect and licensed engineer (mechanical/electrical/plumbing) had devised ahead of time. The general contractor and the plumbing sub-contractor would follow the plans and specifications, and there would be no arguing about it. The blow up over the shower fixtures wouldn’t happen, and there wouldn’t be leaks, and all the mayhem that ensues. That's also a good reason to not hire an interior designer to supervise construction, or do an architect's job by the seat of his or her pants.
One of the things that isn’t discussed in the show is -- who is paying for the work? Who is paying for the furniture and furnishings? Is the contractor a licensed general contractor? Is Jeff providing the homeowners with “as builts” when the job is over? We know that Jeff and Jenni are being paid. If the production company is picking up the tab for everything, it’s a very expensive reality show.
The “Queen of Mean” is still very mean. That’s why people tune in, and that creates the conflict in the show. It will be interesting to see the future shows - because if we’re just going to watch Jeff scream at Jenni and the contractor all season - this is going to get boring rather quickly.
The next iteration of the show should be titled “The Queen of Mean: In Therapy with Jeff Lewis.” I would watch that - and that'd be must see TV!
Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis airs on Bravo Wednesday nights at 9pm
The post following this one will have more photos from the show, including before and after shots.
straight talk in a queer world.
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