Having originally aired in 2013, this reality show really came into its own in the pandemic as stuck-at-home viewers craved escapism. And what better choice than a luxury yacht, cruising around big blue seas?
Below Deck follows the antics of a crew operating on a luxury charter gin palace, and the not-so-unsuspecting guests who book the boat for a few days at a time. But this isn’t some high class show where we get a peek at how the other half live. This is more like Geordie Shore on a yacht, with boat loads of debauchery and drama – there’s plenty of sun, plenty of sea and plenty of sex, all fuelled by a healthy splash of booze. We get to watch drunken spats and love affairs, as these mega-rich guests interact with a bunch of twenty-something-year-olds with essentially no sailing experience but a hunger for fame. And blistering barnacles, is it entertaining.
Even though you’re fully aware whilst watching that these people that the premise is completely ridiculous, you’ll end up hooked on the unlikeable crew unable to take your eyes off them as they display unprofessionalism that would have anyone else fired and packing up their desk.
This series is proof that you really can make a reality show out of anything these days, if you inject the right characters and enough booze. And you have been warned, take one trip on the Below Deck franchise and you might well be hooked.
David Wiegand in the San Francisco Chronicle reckons that producers had worked their way down the list of possible precincts for reality TV and finally got to “big boats”. He said “Deserted island? Check. Restaurant kitchen? Check. Flea markets? Check. One-hundred sixty-four-foot luxury yacht you can rent for up to $300k a week? Bingo.” In a review for Season 4, Hank Stuever in The Washington Post called it “irresistibly entertaining”. Placing it in the canon of great TV, with a raised eyebrow, he said, “Perhaps you see just another reality show. I see a form of blissfully bizarre escape, encoded with lessons about work, about life.”
Writing in The New York Times Caity Weaver warned viewers who have never seen the show in its different formats “the Below Deck franchise lures in viewers with the pitiless ease of sirens summoning sailors to hurl their ships against the sun-warmed Grecian coast.”
First shown July 2013. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here: