Bravo's reality series Flipping Out, following interior designer Jeff Lewis (pictured above) and his assistant Jenni Pulos as they navigate both the business and drama at the office, is about to kick off its seventh season. To discuss why the show has become a mainstay of Bravo's reality TV slate, we turned to producers Lauren Lexton and Andrew Hoegl of Authentic Entertainment, who spoke with us about the new season of Flipping Out and what it's like to be in the reality TV business.
"You know, we really don't script anything," Lauren told us, reflecting on the enduring popularity of the show. "Every day with Jeff Lewis is a brand new day, with new crazy things going on in his life and especially in his office."
"The show has evolved and Jeff has evolved over seven seasons and it continues to evolve," added Drew. "Seeing him go from a house flipper and go through a few lean years and then sort of reinventing himself as a designer, finding success there, has been an incredible and I think relatable journey."
What can we expect from Season 7? "Obviously, Jenni is very pregnant. I don't think there's a spoiler in the sense that she's going to go through her pregnancy on camera, which is great and really, I think, adds a new layer to her relationship with Jeff and her own life really," Drew continued.
"I think overall, this season is a little bit lighter. It's very funny. The last couple of seasons Jeff has been, as he's been growing in his design business, he's been kind of strugging for success and I think he's starting to hit it."
Lauren, Drew and the folks at Authentic know a thing or two about producing reality shows, as they've handled many of them, from the hits like Flipping Out and TLC's Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, to the lesser known like Esquire's criminally underrated Knife Fight and several programs for Food Network.
"We do a lot of shows. We passionately love all of our shows, and we don't always find an audience," Lauren reflected, adding that she doesn't think we'll run out of ideas any time soon. "I think that the more you do, the more there is, honestly. The thing that I love so much about reality, is that truth really is stranger than fiction. That's what I love about Flipping Out. Things that happen on that show, if that was written into a scripted show, you'd be like 'That's so over the top.'"
"I think the biggest thing about it is that no matter what, the essence of whoever it is you're doing a show about always comes through. It's storytelling but it's much more interesting because you have no say in what's going to happen," she continued. "Going back to Flipping Out, [in] season two when Jenni and Chris broke up, that was the most stressful production situation I had ever been in. I think as producers, you just have to let talent be themselves and let their personalities shine, and give them the tools."
We hear dozens of people say they want to be actors and actresses, directors and writers, but how does one decide to become a reality TV producer? Lauren and Drew shed some light on their career paths for us. "I personally fell into unscripted just by chance, and then as soon as I started doing it I was immediately drawn to the fact that we were dealing with real people that had real lives," she said.
"I started as a writer," he explained, "and whether you're in scripted or you're doing reality, you're telling stories. What appeals to me about any genre is good storytelling. It's why I really love Flipping Out. I absolutely love producing it because I don't think you could find scripted characters that are as fun to watch as Jeff and Jenni. The show has such a loyal audience because of these characters. They are so compelling and so entertaining to watch."
And with reality TV continuing to be as popular as ever with audiences, Lauren is excited about the growth of the genre. "The genre has grown from a few people who knew how to produce and story produce and things like that," she told us, "to just this incredible talent pool of people who've grown up with the business. And it is super exciting."