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Russell Hantz is “Flipped Off” in his new A & E series

Flipped Off poster

Written by : published Sunday 29th April 2012

Russell Hantz is “Flipped Off” in his new A & E series main image

If you are even a casual fan of the reality competition “Survivor,” you have probably heard of Russell Hantz.  If you haven’t, you can familiarize yourself with him now that he is starring in a brand-new reality series on the A & E Network.

“Flipped Off,” which premiered Saturday night at 10:00 p.m. EST, stars Survivor’s most notorious villain, Russell Hantz, as he attempts to flip houses in the Houston, TX area.  Flipping houses refers to buying property at a low cost, investing money in repairs and/or upgrades, and then quickly selling the house for profit.  What does Russell have to do with flipping houses?  Good question.

Fans of Survivor either love or hate Russell Hantz, but you can be assured that any opinion on him is a strong one.  As a self-professed Survivor slappy, I happen to be one of his biggest fans while he was on the show stealing and burning other player’s socks and lying about his past (he famously lied to his tribe mates telling them that he was a Hurricane Katrina victim, to gain sympathy).  He also was one of the show’s most strategic player in history, and was known for his ability to control, manipulate, and influence his desired outcome.

Russell takes these attributes and applies them to the real estate market.  “Flipped Off” teams him with his older brother, Shawn Hantz, as well as the sexy Kristen Bredehoeft, who just so happens to be one of the top real estate agents in Houston.

In Episode 1, Kristen finds the Hantz Brothers a house that is ripe for flipping.  Almost immediately, we see that this show will be worth watching.

As Kristen relays the investment amount that the Hantz Brothers would have to dump into this particular house, Shawn balks at the idea of paying a home inspector $1,500 to inspect the home.  Russell allows his brother to inspect the house, and we quickly learn that Shawn knows absolutely nothing about it.  After he gives the house a once-over – sniffing a few vents along the way – he gives the house an OK, and they decide to try to flip it.

Needless to say, once real workers and technicians get involved, they quickly learn that there are huge problems with the house that need addressing, and will cost money.  Via voice-over from Russell, we learn that he wants to make a good $30,000 - $50,000 profit on this home in order for it to be worth it.  This goal having been spelled out to us gave the episode a “competition” feeling, and ultimately set up a “pass/fail” ending, which will surely become the show’s structure over the next several weeks.

“Flipped Off” is definitely a home improvement show, but Episode 1 smartly divided the attention between the house an on Russell himself.  We got a glimpse into his personal life, and his failing marriage that seemingly was due to Russell’s recent fame as a reality star.  The interaction between Russell and Shawn was effortlessly comedic and at times touching as we see that they do care about each other in their own way.  Even their Meemaw shows up to evaluate how things are going.

But this is Russell Hantz, and those unfamiliar with his antics got a crash-course in this first hour.  Over the course of this pilot episode, Russell and his brother fight, argue, and create all kinds of problems for themselves.  There is also a theft and a scene where Russell confronts a police officer.  Let’s just say that it goes down the way that I would expect it to knowing Russell.

The first episode lays the foundation for what is to come, not only with the format of the show, but with how the interactions may play out between the three leads.  Shawn doesn’t seem to like Kristen, Kristen seems a bit afraid of Russell, and Russell seems to be basking in the leadership role that allows him to push his younger brother around.

All in all, it was a very interesting episode that I feel should be accessible to anyone remotely interested in real estate, or home improvement shows.  But don’t be mistaken, “Flipped Off” is much more than a show about flipping houses.  It could be the precursor to a full-blown Hantz Family reality series, as Russell is clearly the reason why you should be watching.

I recently interviewed Russell Hantz about his new show and his time on Survivor.  Be sure to check out the link!

“Flipped Off” airs on Saturday nights at 10:00 p.m. EST on the A & E Network.  It is believed to be a 7-episode run, with hopes of renewing for a second season based on its early success.

About the author SurvivorTom

SurvivorTom

Tom Santilli is a respected journalist and member of the Detroit Film Critics Society.  He writes several on-line columns, most notably as the Detroit Movie Examiner and the Survivor Examiner for Examiner.com.  He also is a contributor as a Survivor-Insider to TVGeekArmy.com and writes exclusive Survivor in-depth episode analysis for TheTVKing.com. He has been featured on Rob Cesternino's "Rob Has a Podcast" and most recently landed the only exclusive Richard Hatch interview given since his latest legal trouble has surfaced. All of Tom's Survivor coverage as well as movie reviews can be found on his blog the "FilmSurvivor", at FilmSurvivor.com

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