Flipping Out ended its seventh season not with the departure of a cast member, Jenni Pulos, as previews and the last few episodes suggested might happen. Instead, it ended with something even more shocking: the death of a cast member, Monkey, Jeff Lewis’ cat, who was put to sleep.
“This is the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Jeff said in a clip that was included in the preview, and his recent lawsuit against Jenni over her forthcoming book made it seem all the more likely that he was talking about her and there would be a major break-up, even if it was just a publicity stunt, as the cynical suggest. But no, he was talking about having to end Monkey’s life.
I expected to watch the finale and get even more pissed at Jeff for whatever happened with Jenni, since it’s part of a pattern of increasingly horrifying behavior: buying a house without talking to his partner, trying to sell the dream house he and his partner built, renovating his grandmother’s home despite her objections to the intrusion and the choices, keeping Andrew around despite his deception, being passive-aggressive about Jenni’s transgressions that he claimed were serious.
The more the series goes on, the more Jeff’s behavior is less about overreaction and his perfectionism and more about making decisions that push people away before they can get too close. It’s fascinating but also frustrating television, because it’s not as fun as it once was (and don’t even get me started on that horror of a spin-off, Interior Therapy). That said, just as I loved this hidden camera prank, I did love Jeff scaring Andrew.
So, the last thing I expected was to be crying through the last 10 minutes of the episode. But there it was, thanks to Monkey’s increasing sickness, which had been introduced earlier in the series, and also highlighted this season–and including it this way was rather exceptional editing and narrative by the show’s producers. It worked.
That scene was raw and emotional not just because it reminded me of what I experienced last fall, but because of how it humanized Jeff. He was actually affected for once, both by the death of his cat and by the people that are close to him and were there for him during Monkey’s final minutes. That was Monkey’s final gift to his owner, and to us.