Below Deck: Below Deck (all Seasons)
February 6, 2021 8:51 AM - All Seasons - Subscribe

Below Deck (IMDB) is a workplace reality TV show that follows the lives of a crew on a mega-yacht during a season of short charters. Cramped quarters, wild parties obnoxious guests (Screenrant), and glamorous international locations, all proved a big draw for from season 1 in 2013 - up to an abrupt stop in season 8 when the show ran into... well...2020. The making and editing of the show is an interesting story in its own right - as a super-yacht is turned into a floating TV studio operating 24 hours a day (NYT).

The show, produced by Endomol and 51 Minds, originally appeared on the Bravo network. More recently its appearance on Netflix and other streaming channels have made it a lock-down hit - The Downton Abbey of the Water (Guardian). The original series has also spawned "Below Deck Mediterranean" and "Below Deck Sailing Yacht" spin-offs.
posted by rongorongo (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
At its salty core, the franchise is a workplace drama.

I find the show stressful to watch for this reason, and I was interested in comments from Sandy Yawn (a captain) and Adrienne Gang (a chief steward) in the Guardian link. Neither of them came across very well at all on the show, to me. Watching them in action gave me flashbacks to the very worst retail job I ever had, with the bullying management, the squabbling co-workers and just the general sense of irritation. Clearly there are incentives for taking a job like that, and another set of incentives for doing so on television, but it looks awful. I wonder how crew members who are not part of the cast experience it.

I enjoyed reading about what it's like for the actual television crew and would have liked to hear more of their reactions to the content. Some of the guests are really, really bizarre.
posted by BibiRose at 1:38 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I watched a few of these early covid and can see where it could be a guilty pleasure but surprised that there are so many. The guests I noticed were mostly entitled-ish rather than awful but not surprised they had some wackos. Really wonder if there was a big discount for being filmed and would love a copy of the basic contract that allows/forces them to allow entitledness and worse to be broadcast.

Watching while being aware of the cutting it seemed like mostly the crew were hard working pros and the drama was mostly done in the editing room.
posted by sammyo at 3:18 PM on February 6


On a yacht but no yachting?
posted by Ideefixe at 4:28 PM on February 6


My sister got me hooked on this show. I would die for Captain Lee. I’m fascinated by the workplace political angle- who’s managing people well vs. those that don’t (which is most of them).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:09 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


What I find interesting about the show is that - while being story-lined and manipulated to within an inch of its life - it nevertheless feels like a pretty accurate depiction of working at sea on that kind of boat. If you have crewed just about any kind of vessel - then then cramped births, barked orders, fixation with knots, importance of the captain's final word, joy of shore leave and so on - will all be familiar. If you ever been in a service industry for wealthy clients - then you will recognise the pressure to give them what they want - however unreasonable - because everybody's tip depends on it. Finally, if you are old enough to look back on your 20s and 30s - then you'd maybe recognise the combination of looking great, being full of energy and the camaraderie of close teamwork. But also the tendency to be over-or under self confident, the tolerance for workplace bullying, etc.

The show very much conveys the old idea of going to sea to see the world but seeing only the sea - spending 6 weeks in Tahiti but seeing only a laundry room, a bar for ex-pats , a couple of isolated beaches, the guy who couriered in the Beluga caviar, the fucking water slide, and great views tantalisingly ever in the distance.

I enjoyed reading about what it's like for the actual television crew and would have liked to hear more of their reactions to the content.
The people who we rarely see on the show, deserve a good deal of credit: the engineers who step into the light to fix things that have really screwed up or to administer first aid. Or the production crew - working round the clock for 6 weeks with only 3 days off. At one point a cameraman's quick action pretty much saves on of the cast members lives - but we see him credited only very briefly.
posted by rongorongo at 11:36 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Really wonder if there was a big discount for being filmed and would love a copy of the basic contract that allows/forces them to allow entitledness and worse to be broadcast

There are some speculative articles dealing with the financials of the show - here and here. A vessel like My Seanna charters for up to $395,000 per week. Guests are doing a 3 day charter only however - and they are signing up with the producers to be guests - some indication in the second article that the rate was $55,000 for up to 5 - with flights and 2 nights in a 5 star hotel - and tips - thrown in. Salaries on a vessel of this type might range from $3,500 per month for a deck-hand - through up to $10,000 per month for a chef and $16,000 per month for a captain - all before tips. I imagine the contracts that both crew and guests are asked to sign are not lightweight documents.
posted by rongorongo at 12:30 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


At one point a cameraman's quick action pretty much saves on of the cast members lives - but we see him credited only very briefly.

Worth a watch if you haven't seen - Below Deck Cameraman Brent Freeburg Breaks Down Exactly How He Saved Ashton Pienaar's Life During the Overboard Accident
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:45 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Clip of the moment itself- absolutely horrifying.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:48 AM on February 7


Kate's book about how she got into yachting was a fun read.
posted by armacy at 1:07 PM on February 7


the crew drama is the backbone of the show, but i gotta say this season took the wasted guests to a whole new level - this woman got shitfaced and then took a night swim explicitly against the captains orders (like, while surrounded by crew begging her not to).

and the most recent episode the guests were David and Jackie Siegel (She of the Queen of Versailles) and unsurprisingly their teenage sons were horrible but the money quote was when she said, while reading the news of the coronaviruses spread across the us in the second week of march, 2020, that it was "all just something the democrats cooked up to hurt trumps electoral chances"

reader, i screamed.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:17 AM on February 9


ive watched almost all of it and if you were tempted by the early seasons but found some of it clunky, i can recommend jumping ahead a bit.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:17 AM on February 9


I got into Below Deck and watched the first 5-ish seasons obsessively at the beginning of quarantine. I've got some officemates who love it too, so it was a nice way to have something to talk about.

I'm not sure what it says about me, but I have loved this season Below Deck: The Pandemic Approaches. Watching the cases tick up as the calendar moves on. I even wonder if the very first deckhand who left for his grandmother's funeral before charters started was attending a COVID funeral.

I love Captain Lee, and if the show sought out the Siegels as charter guests because they'd lost a child to drug overdose, I am horrified. That Siegel son who cannonballed into the stingray swimming area? Leave him there. Let the ocean have him.
posted by gladly at 8:43 AM on February 10


That little snot! Whining about the crew making him go to bed instead of going to the hot tub - no kidding they weren't going to let your drunk ass in the hot tub, boo hoo.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:49 AM on February 10


I'm not sure what it says about me, but I have loved this season Below Deck: The Pandemic Approaches. Watching the cases tick up as the calendar moves on. I even wonder if the very first deckhand who left for his grandmother's funeral before charters started was attending a COVID funeral.

As it happens, I think season 8 is a great documentation of the stages of acceptance the world went through between January and March last year.:
Just a city: It's OK because I'm not in Wuhan.
Just a country: Its OK because I'm not in China.
Just a couple of continents: Its OK because I'm not on in Bergamo.
Just big dirty boats: its OK because it's not the Diamond Princess
Its OK because I'm on an isolated island where the virus could never reach.

Shit!

posted by rongorongo at 5:14 AM on February 11


I have only watched one clips episode of this show (the pilot, I guess?) but The NY Times feature had me howling and I think I’m cursed to watch more...!
posted by Zephyrial at 10:48 PM on February 19


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