Below Deck Sailing Yacht ended its fourth season, Below Deck Down Under started its second and now Below Deck Mediterranean has released the trailer for its eighth season. Bravo knows how to produce some good ole’ trashy reality television. I, for one, fiend for the Real Housewives and Below Deck franchises. I don’t watch every single franchise and show produced by Bravo/Peacock (I’m not that crazy), but clearly I do watch a lot.

Below Deck’s popularity has grown a significant amount, which is obvious considering there are five different versions. I’ve seen pretty much all of it except for a few episodes of one. If I tell you which show right now, I might give away which one I like the least as I discuss which versions are my favorite.

The Below Deck franchise revolves around the reality and drama of being a “yachtie,” working on luxury yachts and partying in-between charters. The different shows vary according to location, type of yacht and yacht activities. Camera crews follow the cast of each season as they attempt to navigate working in close quarters with coworkers, boat-mances, rude guests and risky conditions. 

Some crazy things have happened on these shows. There have been a number of injuries, near deaths, firings, guests fighting, crew fighting, marriages, proposals, runaway guests, crazy chefs, celebrities, Real Housewives crossovers, lost jewelry, fires and near collisions.


Below Deck

Below Deck is the OG of the OC… if you know you know. Anyway, Below Deck is very obviously the original show from which the others have spawned, and it absolutely claims bragging rights because of this fact. Season One came out swinging with drama and introduced many to the ins and outs of the yachting world. There was crew drama, boat-mances, swimming while on charter, partying and outrageous guests. 

Captain Lee Rosbach is a fan favorite. H has been captain from Season One until the most recent Season 10, where a medical condition prevented him from working. Capt. Lee is a lovable curmudgeon. He means businesses, won’t hesitate to fire someone and has the funniest one-liners.

Chief Stewardess Kate Chastain joined in season two to replace the very much disliked Adrienne. Capt. Lee and Kate Chastain became a duo for many seasons to come, reigning over the Below Deck Kingdom. You can’t not like Kate Chastain. She’s blunt, bitchy, has little time for incompetence and was made to be a Chief Stewardess on a reality show about working on a yacht.

Together, both Lee and Kate have created some memorable tv moments. For instance, Kate made a rude guest throw blankets into the shape of a penis and call it a rocket ship. There’s also the time a guest jumped into the ocean at night and Capt. Lee kicked her off the boat. 

Kate eventually announced she was leaving the show, leaving the producers with a big hole to replace. Below Deck has managed to keep the ratings coming without her, but they’re still looking for a stable head of department to bring in. Overall, the original Below Deck keeps its throne for now. 


Below Deck Mediterranean

Below Deck tended to travel and film in a variety of places like the Caribbean, Tahiti, Virgin Islands, etc. Then, Bravo introduced Below Deck Mediterranean in 2016, which specifically charters in, duh, the Mediterranean. Similar to the original, Below Deck Med has or had some key figures for many seasons. Hannah Farrier was Chief Stewardess since Season One until being fired in Season Five. Hannah, who has the same strict leadership style as Kate, can be a polarizing figure on Below Deck, and her firing is still a hot topic among fans.

She was fired by none other than Captain Sandy Yawn, who is also a polarizing staple of the show. Yawn is the only female captain of all the Below Deck shows, which may be a factor in the criticism of her work as captain. Sandy started the show in Season Two, and has a different leadership style from Capt. Lee. I tend to agree with the many opinions about Capt. Sandy. A lot of the criticism revolves around her micromanaging the crew and her favoritism toward the deck team over the stews. 

They each had their own staple heads of department with Lee and Kate on Below Deck and Sandy and Hannah on Med. The crews operate the same, the chef is quirky, they work, they party and essentially the formula for both shows is the same. That difference is Sandy. Both Lee and Sandy are good captains. Lee stays out of the drama though, while Sandy inserts herself into it.

At one point, Below Deck Med had an all-female head of department crew. Sandy as captain, Hannah as chief stew and Malia, who worked up to become bosun. I won’t spoil anything, but the trio crashed and now Below Deck Med is also scrambling to fill the roles of bosun and chief stew more permanently. 

Mediterranean and Below Deck OG are in close contention for my favorite versions of Below Deck. The most recent season of Med didn’t have the same pizzazz it usually does, but the new trailer promises for an exciting season. 


Below Deck Sailing Yacht

This would be more of a favorite if I wrote this out before I watched Season Four, but watching Chief Stew Daisy try to salvage a relationship between her and First Officer Colin while Bosun Gary ruins it had me cringing through the end of the season and all the way into the reunion. Sailing Yacht’s first season was a little quirky. Captain Glenn and crew Paget and Ciara, who were dating, have been sailing together as a crew for quite awhile, basically a family while living on the sailing yacht, The Parsifal III.

In the other shows, the crew is operating on a motor yacht (which relies on motors to move). Parsifal has engines, but when there’s wind the deck crew puts up the sails and uses the wind to sail this luxury yacht. The show is elevated by the visuals of taking place on a sailing yacht. You watch as crew store items and walk sideways as the boat heels. Captain Glenn is almost like a kid at the helm, just loving to sail for the guests. The first season was also infuriating by returning temperamental Chef Adam and his romance with Chief Stew Jenna, who eventually neglected her leadership and condescended toward the other stews.

The second season of Sailing Yacht was saved by a new cast. New Chief Stew Daisy, First Officer Gary and Chief Engineer Colin became an instant lovable trio. Gary pretty much slept with everything, Colin sat back and watched Gary’s antics and Daisy maintained a sisterly bond with both of them … until she didn’t. My advice is this: don’t sleep with Gary.

Sailing Yacht brought a sense of fun among the drama that didn’t really exist on the other shows. Along with a new and exciting element of sailing, it was the perfect addition to the franchise. 


Below Deck Down Under

The Australia locale is still in its infancy, as this show is currently airing its second season. Down Under features Aussie Captain Jason. Myself, crew and other fans have determined Capt. Jason is a very good-looking captain, probably the most attractive one in the franchise. I also love this version because it has Aesha as Chief Stew. Aesha was a third stew under Hannah on Below Deck Med, and she is caring, loud, funny and vulgar — basically the complete opposite of the other Chief Stews. She could be more firm, but she definitely leads with love. She looks like an awesome person to have as a friend, which is demonstrated within her relationship with Capt. Jason. Aesha’s affinity for making Jason and the other deck crew dress up has viewers and guests laughing. 

Capt. Jason expects a certain level of quality, provides crew members with chances and even has a disco ball helmet of shame he makes the crew wear while out partying to incentivize better work. Most crew members accept their accountability and wear the sparkly helmet to the bars. 

The working environment on Below Deck Down Under seems a little more kosher with Aesha and Capt. Jason holding the reins. Don’t worry though, the drama is still there. 


Below Deck Adventure

The first season of this show was so wholly underwhelming that I think I got distracted by another show and never returned to finish it. I think I only have two episodes to go, so I should just bite the bullet. Adventure takes place in Norway, and the premise is that guests are here to go on adventures like parasailing and rock climbing instead of the lounging and beach picnics of the other shows. I really don’t have much to say about this one, as my experience with is based on only about ten episodes.

Captain Kerry didn’t really do much if I remember correctly, and the drama that unfolded just felt kind of stale. The chef was high-strung and intimidating, Chief Stew Faye wasn’t very effective in her role and Bosun Lewis just complained about whatever the captain told him or didn’t tell him. The crew didn’t really have chemistry, and the episodes were just lackluster. I did see that the production company was different from the ones used for the other shows, which may play a part. 

There are so many quirky, funny, crazy crew members, guests and moments that I can’t put them all into one column. There are a lot trashy reality shows, but Bravo has produced some high quality trashy television. Maybe the show isn’t a hundred percent accurate as to what the yachting industry is like, but there’s much more of a storyline compared to the Real Housewives. The audience is intrigued by the “yachtie” lifestyle, and we’re watching them work and develop genuine relationships with one another (good or bad) rather than watching wealthy women go out to eat and fight each other.

It’s okay to watch trashy television, and if you are down for it, I highly recommend Below Deck. 

One thought on “Series Breakdown: Below Deck”
  1. […] Similar to A-Rod, my issue with Damon has more to do with his post-career antics than his performance as a player. For even more context, Damon’s post-career antics include displaying gross, drunkenly antics on the reality show, Below Deck Mediterranean.  […]

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