This Saturday, multiple seasons of 'Below Deck' are coming to Netflix.
So far, only the first and second season of the reality TV show have been available on the streaming service. It's not yet clear exactly how many seasons of the show will be added from May 1st, but one thing's for certain - once you come aboard (nautical pun!), you'll be hooked.
Now, you're probably thinking, "Hey, entertainment.ie, this is reality TV crap. I'm used to watching high-brow shows and movies - why are you talking to me about a reality TV show?" Well, for one, content is content so who cares? Don't read this, go about your day? But, to your hypothetical question, the answer is "because it's actually really good".
Let's set sail (another one!) on our beginner's guide and help you get your sea legs (and another!) before 'Below Deck' docks (and ANOTHER!) on Netflix this weekend.
OK, WHAT'S THE PREMISE?
Essentially, 'Below Deck' follows the crew aboard a charter motor yacht. Each episode follows the crew taking the guests on board, serving them food, preparing drinks, doing all the service jobs, and interacting with the guests and the captain of the yacht. The crew is made up of two distinct groups - the deckhands and the stewards. The stewards are the crew that work on the interior of the boat; making up the bedrooms, serving food and drinks, and organising theme nights or entertainment for the guests. The stewards are led by Kate, who's the "chief stew" of the yacht.
Then you've got the deckhands, who are led by the bosun. The deckhands help the captain when they're docking on marinas, cleaning the exterior of the boat, and putting the "toys" into the water - speedboats, a big giant waterslide (NB: the deckhands hate this), and the tender boat, which takes guests out for snorkeling and so on. The first two seasons, you have Eddie leading the deckhands as the bosun of the motor yacht, and Eddie's just a gas ticket. That said, Eddie does get into some personal difficulties in Season 3, but we'll leave you to find out what happens there.
All of these guys are overseen by Captain Lee, who is - you guessed it - the captain of the yacht.
SO IT'S ALMOST LIKE A HOTEL-TYPE THING?
In a way, yes. Except it's a luxury hotel and it's very, very exclusive. The guests on the boat tend to be extremely wealthy people, and as a result, complete assholes. This is actually one of the reasons why 'Below Deck' is so good. The crew who run the motor yacht regularly take the absolute piss out of the guests when they're down in the crew mess, and the guests likewise are the worst people imaginable. Sure, there's one or two guests who are nice and what have you, but a lot of them tend to be awful people.
I GET THE CONCEPT, BUT WHAT MAKES THIS BETTER THAN ANY OTHER REALITY TV SHOW?
A lot of things.
For one, a lot of us are working from home at the moment so workplace banter and gossip is something that we're missing out on. 'Below Deck' is full to the brim with it. The crew generally tends to be made up of people who are young and single, working in close quarters with one another. There's a work-hard, play-hard attitude that anyone who's worked in the service industry - be it nightclubs, bar work, whatever - will recognise. Now imagine that on a luxury yacht in the likes of the Caribbean, the British Virgin Islands, and so on, with all single people. It's going to get messy.
On top of that, the crew themselves are actually really doing their jobs. It's not like other reality TV shows where people are just walking from a fashion show to a spa to an anal bleaching session. These guys are working a job and doing their best, all while there's a camera crew following them around the place. They're not playing up to the cameras either, they're actually just trying to get through a charter, and with it being a high-pressure environment, tempers will fray and emotions will often run high as a result.
SO IT'S NOT SCRIPTED OR EDITED?
Not as much as other reality TV shows. Sure, it's edited and, yes, they do that really annoying thing in reality TV shows where there's an awkward pause clearly put in when one didn't happen in real time. But generally speaking, it's a working motor yacht and the stuff that happens - the boat hitting bad weather, the guests being assholes, personality clashes, so on and so on - that's all real, unscripted stuff.
DO I NEED TO WATCH ALL THE SEASONS IN ORDER?
No, you could actually drop into any season and get the gist of it pretty quickly. Obviously, it helps to watch in order, but it's not a prerequisite. It's not 'Game of Thrones', like. In fact, each episode follows a pretty rigid structure. The crew arrives on the yacht, they get settled, start cleaning down the interior and exterior, meet their fellow yachties (that's people who work on yachts) and then the guests come aboard and go off on their charter cruise. The cruise tend to last a couple of days. The guests disembark, they pay out their tip to the crew, and then it's on to the next one.
YOU MENTIONED A TIP THERE, WHAT'S THAT?
Tips are a huge thing in 'Below Deck'. As mentioned, the guests are extremely wealthy and charter cruises such as the ones in 'Below Deck' often cost anywhere between $150,000 to $300,000. At the end of each charter, the primary - that's the person who booked the charter - gives the captain a tip that's normally anywhere between $15,000 up to $25,000.
That tip then gets split equally among the crew, so if it's a crew of 10 people on the yacht and it's a €15,000 tip, that's €1,500 into their hands - tax-free and in cash. They get that amount every charter, on top of their wages. When the guests are acting like assholes and so forth, the only reason the crew doesn't go nuts is because they're trying to keep them happy to get the tip at the end. More to the point, if someone else messes up - say, the chef for example - it can impact everyone else's tip. That then causes strife in the crew, and then you begin to see where drama can naturally foment.
ARE THE GUESTS REAL?
Yes, they're real guests who have booked the charter. Now, to be clear, they're receiving a heavy discount for the charter - somewhere in the region of half-off the normal price we mentioned earlier. However, the guests aren't specifically vetted by the producers and the tip they pay out is theirs and theirs alone. The producers of the show don't give them that money either. That's for them to decide and pay out as they wish.
HOW MANY SEASONS OF 'BELOW DECK' ARE THERE?
There's eight seasons altogether, and there's two spin-offs - 'Below Deck: Mediterranean' and 'Below Deck: Sailing Yacht' - so if you get into it, there's plenty of episodes to blast through.
WHEN CAN I STREAM 'BELOW DECK' ON NETFLIX?
Saturday, May 1st.
AND IT'S GOOD?
Don't take it from us - watch this compilation of chief stew Kate being a chief stew.