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Red Flags In Jeff Lewis And Jenni Pulos' Relationship On Flipping Out

When it comes to reality TV, the biggest question for fans is often, just how real is the show we're watching? Most fans are aware that all reality shows are actually carefully constructed stories designed to maximize the drama and conflict. That umpteenth squabble between the Real Housewives might seem fake because a producer is just off camera egging them all on.

Yet not all reality shows are completely fabricated. Take "Flipping Out." The long-running Bravo show that starred house flipper and interior designer Jeff Lewis, along with his long-suffering assistant Jenni Pulos and his equally long-suffering housekeeper Zoila Chavez. It ran from 2007 to 2018 and aired 108 total episodes. Most of those episodes revolve around Jeff trying to carry out renovation projects across Los Angeles. Problem is, as a boss, Jeff is about as difficult and demanding as possible. Hence the title of the show.

Onscreen, Jeff and Jenni's relationship has plenty of ups and downs. Yes, Jeff is hard on Jenni and gets on her case whenever she makes a mistake, but they also claim to be genuine longtime friends. In 2017, Jeff even named Jenni the godfather to his daughter Monroe. Even so, there have been multiple red flags suggesting their friendship isn't entirely happy. 

In 2012, Jeff sued Jenni over a book about him

Six seasons into their "Flipping Out" run, Jenni attempted to write a memoir about what it's like to work with Jeff Lewis. The original title was "Hang in There, Baby – What One of the World's Most Difficult Bosses Taught Me About Life, Work and Love." The book was supposed to offer humorous advice about how to handle difficult situations in life, but Jeff wasn't amused. After seeing the book's title, Lewis had his lawyers issue a cease-and-desist letter to Jenni, reminding her that she'd signed a nondisclosure agreement about their work together.

When Jeff filed the lawsuit in 2012, the book hadn't yet been written. Jenni claimed the book wouldn't address Jeff specifically, but when Jeff's lawyers later asked to see a manuscript, Jenny's team declined (via ABC News). In the end, Jenny retitled her book "Grin and Bear It: How to Be Happy No Matter What Reality Throws Your Way." The lawsuit was dropped, and the book was published in 2014.

The friendship breakup in the series finale wasn't staged

In the Season 11 finale, which would end up being the series finale, Jeff and Jenni sit down for lunch and Jeff fires Jenni. This comes on the heels of an explosive argument they have on the show about Jeff not supporting her acting career. The moment wasn't fake. Not only did it mark the end of Jenni's and Jeff's working relationship, it ended their friendship entirely.

Afterwards, things only got worse. News of their split actually went public before the series finale aired. When it did, even more disturbing allegations came out. Jeff said that Jenni had reported him and his production company, Authentic Entertainment, for "abuse and victimization." Bravo cleared Jeff after a lengthy investigation (via People). Later, Lewis posted a photo on Instagram, showing Jenni with her faced crossed out by a red X. Later, when Jeff spoke about the incident on his radio show "Jeff Lewis Live," and said that he and Jenni hadn't spoken in months. 

For her part, Jenni said she was blindsided by her firing. "After the final disagreement, I decided I was not going to continue a friendship with someone who thought of me the way he did," she told People.

Jenni has rebuffed Jeff's multiple attempts to reconcile

Since their breakup, Jeff has spoken publicly about the fallout and his attempts to patch things up. After the fight, Jeff told Bravo that he felt as if Jenni was blaming him for her unhappiness in her career. After Jeff's anger wore off and he began to process the fight, he realized that he'd lashed out and wanted to clear the air. "I think it took me a very, very long time to really take a look," he told Bravo. "OK, what did you do, Jeff? Why did she react this way? What did I say?"

In January 2020, Jeff said on his radio show "Jeff Lewis Live" that he had texted Jenni asking if they could meet and offering to apologize. He never heard back. A year later, Lewis appeared on "Watch What Happens Live" and said the situation hadn't changed. Jeff and Jenni had been in the same restaurant, and Jeff sent over both drinks and desserts as a peace offering. Jenni rejected both. "I kind of got my answer there," Jeff said. "She's not ready" (via UPI).

Jenni's stance hasn't changed since 2018, at least not publicly. "Flipping Out" ended in 2018, but the bad blood between the former co-stars and friends lingers.