Return of ‘Flipping Out’ will turn this TV show into the happiest TV show ever

Fox News Channel may be on the verge of re-igniting the notion that “flipping” can be good TV by airing the revamped version of “Flipping Out.” Based on those who might tune in, it…

Return of ‘Flipping Out’ will turn this TV show into the happiest TV show ever

Fox News Channel may be on the verge of re-igniting the notion that “flipping” can be good TV by airing the revamped version of “Flipping Out.” Based on those who might tune in, it might not be the most welcome news to those who tend to think “flipping” is the ugly, I-don’t-know-what-I-want-to-have-that-yours-are-just-too-chubby-and-I-want-to-flip-it-until-it-says-“no.”

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But a lot has changed about TV’s most watched demolition derby since it was reborn a few years ago on Bravo. To begin with, the show is now something that Bravo Network founder Lauren Zalaznick might have flipped over in a fit of rage.

The show—which makes a career out of turning dumpy therapists into self-possessed “flippers”—was resurrected in 2015 with a new, more entertaining premise, dubbed “Flipping Out in California.” It spawned an unauthorized movie about the practice in 2012 called “Flipping Out”; the Bravo re-do was unabashedly an advertisement for the documentary, however much it was a work of melodrama for Bravo.

The original made the most of the ephemeral role of the therapist, casting rather lackluster laymen who work in the nonprofit world or the pharmaceutical industry in the unenviable role of being real-life renovators. Each week, they were gifted with an “open house” in the principal’s home, where they had to “flip” a poor-performing room and turn it into something that would get show host Jeff Lewis back in the good graces of the homeowner.

Often, we got to watch as people literally broke the furniture and filled the room with butcher paper to, the cliche goes, “sweat the small stuff.” The twist was that the occupant of the office where the project was set was always there, supervising. The wife of the tenant of the house appeared only occasionally, clearly terrified of saying the wrong thing.

In other words, there were plenty of happy endings, and for the first half of the season, viewers had to wait weeks for the final episode to unfold in a business-as-usual fashion. But the second half, which highlighted a nationwide epidemic of people “flipping out” of divorce settlements, led to one of the most agonizing finales in TV history.

Instead of the show’s usual happy endings, we got the happy-after-the-crying-cast-out-at-your-boss kind.

It made perfect sense to bring the original premise back, given that Bravo has a history of reviving once-dead shows and making them wildly successful. In the past, “Top Chef” and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” both aired on Bravo with dreadful prospects. Yet both returned to the network with renewed ferocity and soldiered on to become sensations for their sissiness.

Similarly, Bravo revived “Million Dollar Listing,” turning a real-estate pitchman into a show about bubble-gum-shooting penny-pinchers who make a little extra from flipping apartments. It is arguably the most aspirational show on Bravo (and perhaps in all of TV), due to its cynical, might-have-been-nicest creation.

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