If there's one thing that the pandemic has been great for, it's binge-watching. We all cried along with Schitt's Creek and Ted Lasso. We laughed at the ridiculousness of Taskmaster. While we watched Squid Game we… well I'm not sure how we reacted to Squid Game, because I'm actually on the second episode as I write this.
We've been through a lot. It's been a long time, and I think that it's time for a show that's just really, really dumb. We've earned a show that's all about ridiculous, over-the-top drama. We deserve a show with drunken shenanigans, beautiful vistas, and an endless supply of the most passive-aggressive, petty BS.
That's right, it's time for everyone to start binging Below Deck.
The Elevator Pitch
I can't really blame you if you've never watched Below Deck. The name is relatively innocuous, and most of the promo imagery for it vaguely shows some combination of “big boat”, “pretty water”, and “attractive person”, without really telling you what the show is.
Below Deck is a workplace reality show set on luxury superyachts. Each season follows the crew of one boat through a charter season. Typically, each season has somewhere near ten charters, usually lasting two or three days each. The show follows the crew of the ship – a captain, four members of the deck team, three interior stewardesses, and a chef – as they do their best to provide their guests the best experience possible, lest they lose the ever tantalizing tip.
Oh boy, that tip is a heck of a motivator.
Working With the Guests
A lot of the fun in this show comes from the guests who charter out these superyachts. These are not cheap vacations, and the guests who come on board are uber-wealthy in really disturbing ways. We are talking about folks who bring along $20,000 as a tip for the crew at the end of the vacation.
They are fluuuuuuuush with caaaash.
On top of being loaded, most guests have a very tenuous grasp of reality. Sometimes they want their pajamas ironed.
The crew is given “preference sheets” that include a short bio about the guests and what they want out of the trip. This usually includes ideas about food and drinks that they are looking for, along with hopes for day trips to a beach or to take out some of the yacht's jet skis and other water toys.
On an agreeable charter, a guest makes simple requests that the crew is able to easily fulfill. On most charters, that's not what happens at all. Instead, a guest will be outraged if a very specific year of a very specific tequila they requested isn't available. Maybe someone only mentions that they don't eat seafood after they get on board. Perhaps a guest insists that they only eat raw vegetables, then gets drunk and asks for nachos. Meat nachos. One guest asked for a western-themed dance party that the crew has to order in bales of hay to make happen.
Or maybe it was “hales of bay”. It got confusing, but that’s what happen when an Australian stewardess has to organize an extremely American party.
The things they ask for are wild, and it's just as fun to see the yachties work together to pull it off as it is to see them massively fail.
The Drama Guests Don't See
The real fun of Below Deck is what happens outside of the guests' eyes. What happens below the deck, if you will.
Here's the thing you need to understand about the crew on these yachts: There are 8 employees who are responsible for making sure that the guests are constantly having the most absolute fun that they can 24 hours a day. These poor folks work a job that basically has them on call for the most entitled, drunken jerks imaginable nonstop.
The crew is already exhausted and tense constantly. The first charter wipes them out, and then they just keep coming nonstop. It's like the crew never gets to catch a break… except when they go out drinking.
Between almost every charter is a drunken night where all of the tension and arguments that bubbled beneath the surface come flying out. There are verbal arguments constantly. Physical altercations are rare, but they happen. It's not uncommon for crew members to end up disrobed in inappropriate situations. Toilets break. Smooches happen.
Everyone goes buck wild, and it's fantastic.
At first, you'll find yourself hating specific members of the crew for how they behave during one charter, only to end up siding against them after they make a fool of themselves before the next one even begins.
Everyone on this show screws up at some point, and watching it all fall apart is amazing.
Except for Bugsy and Captain Sandy. Those two are perfect.
How to Watch Below Deck
If you've gotten this far, you're probably ready to start watching the show.. and I haven't even told you the best part! There are, right now, over 250 episodes of Below Deck and its spin-offs, Below Deck Mediterranean and Below Deck Sailing Yacht, for you to watch. And most of them are available free on Peacock.
Getting the best experience requires watching all of the shows in chronological order as they were released. The show isn't built on a narrative, but crewmembers and even guests can show up across the different series.
With that, I'll leave you with a list of the order in which you should watch the whole dang thing. And you really, really should watch.
- Below Deck Season 1 (2013)
- Below Deck Season 2 (2014)
- Below Deck Season 3 (2015)
- Below Deck Mediterranean Season 1 (2016)
- Below Deck Season 4 (2016)
- Below Deck Mediterranean Season 2 (2017)
- Below Deck Season 5 (2017)
- Below Deck Mediterranean Season 3 (2018)
- Below Deck Season 6 (2018)
- Below Deck Mediterranean Season 4 (2019)
- Below Deck Season 7 (2019)
- Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 1 (2020)
- Below Deck Mediterranean Season 5 (2020)
- Below Deck Season 8 (2020)
- Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 2 (2021)
- Below Deck Mediterranean Season 6 (2021)