Speaking of gay couples, how has doing the show affected your relationship with your boyfriend, Gage? How do you handle being on camera together?
Lewis: The cameras obviously put a magnifying glass on your life and your relationship, and I think that we started off with a very, very strong foundation. So you know, Gage and I dated for at least a year, year-and-a-half before we even brought him on camera. We had a very strong relationship before we entered into this.
That said, it has brought a lot of stress because, you know, Gage wasn’t always depicted favorably on the last season of Flipping Out. That was really hard on him because he really is a good, nice person. He has my back—he’s very professional in the sense that he’s protecting my business. And when we had to let go of a few people last season… it wasn’t ultimately Gage’s decision; it was mine. But he did present the information, and as a result he took the heat for that. And we got a lot of upsetting and nasty blog posts and reviews, and that was hard on him. For somebody who’s been [off] the radar for so long.
The new show has you working a lot more closely with new clients—you’re actually living with them. Were there some you just couldn’t stand? Either what their design choices were or how they operated as a family? Anyone make you go, “Get me out of here!”
Jenni Pulos: We got very involved with every family we moved in with and, really, I think you’ll see that it’s emotionally taxing on both sides. Them having to let go of things and undergo this quick remodel process. Some of them were really holding onto memories through their things and we came in and basically said, “Clean it out now.”
But there was one [couple] that I’m thinking of, in particular, that we both decided shouldn’t really be together. And they were considering moving in together! We were really fighting against that [but] they obviously wanted us to have that be the way it was. And then finally at the end we were like, “This is not a good idea.”
Lewis: And they broke up.
Pulos: Yes. So I think for a bigger answer, every episode is self-contained and very different. There’s a design problem, but also I think there’s a relationship issue between the couples in every episode. It’s very interesting because it’s not just design; it’s also very much the [personal] dynamics and why one person has maybe a bigger voice in the relationship.
It’s very complex and I think that’s why, and you’ll hear Jeff say this in interviews, this is the hardest thing we’ve ever done. It wasn’t just, “Oh, we’re doing a flip/makeover show.” It was heavy. We were involved with these people. We felt like we had to not only help them make a change, but we had to do that in four days. It was emotionally draining.
Lewis: If we differed in taste, I could handle that—I can compromise with someone. I feel like I’ve become good at that over the last few years, starting my own design business. But sometimes I felt like people were doing this for the wrong reasons. And some people didn’t really want to take a look at any sort of personal issues. They just wanted free furniture. I felt those people were greedy and entitled. But then I would walk into a home where somebody was really grateful and they really wanted to change. They were really committed to it. Those are the people that maybe I took to more.
It’s made every episode different: Sometimes Jenni and I had a wonderful dynamic with the family and it was light and funny, and just great. And then other times we would walk in and… it was heavy and it was dark. But what I love about those episodes is that they were real and there was no Hollywood ending.
In this particular circumstance where the couple broke up at the end—that’s my favorite episode. Not because they broke up [laughs], but because we embraced reality. That’s what I signed up for, a reality hybrid.
I said whatever happens, happens, and we’re not going to [force] it. We ended up losing a producer over it. I don’t know if I’m supposed to say that. But, we ended up losing a producer over that because we didn’t agree.