I’ve waited to start blogging the new “Below Deck Mediterranean” on Bravo because I was cautiously optimistic that the show would return to its first season glory with the new destination. So far, I’m impressed. Let’s recap the first two episodes real quick.
With only Chef Ben returning from prior seasons, the new crew is definitely an interesting bunch. The new boat is not what most of these yachties are used to. And they don’t have much prep time.
“To set up a boat with a brand new crew and then pick up charter guests in a day, it’s just unheard of,” Chief Stew Hannah worries, when the captain tells her, upon arrival, that their first guests arrive the next day. She says it takes a month to properly provision a boat, and she seems to know exactly what she’s doing.
“It’s just absolute fucking mayhem,” Hannah says as they haul supplies aboard.
The Ionian Princess is not a new boat, and the décor is less than modern. Lots of gold plating, etched glass, and outdated window treatments and fixtures. The swan water faucets are just plain ugly. That said, I couldn’t afford to charter it. So I’d should keep my opinions about the décor to myself.
“It’s honest-to-God one of the most hideous boats I’ve worked on,” Hannah tells her number two stewardess, Julia.
“I don’t want to be rude but it’s a little bit gaudy,” Julia agrees. “It’s like Liberace has gone mad and vomited all over the boat.”
“I don’t know what to say, I’m a little bit speechless,” Julia says, after seeing the rest of the interior.
Captain Mark Howard is no Captain Lee – and that’s a good thing. In fact, this captain appears to be far more engaged with his crew, and aware of what is going on below deck on his ship. Unlike Lee, I think we can count on this leader to intervene if the shit hits the fan between the crew members this season.
By the end of his last season, Captain Lee came off as a cocky jackass who didn’t really have control of his crew. Or didn’t care enough to step in and put a stop to things before it all got really out of control.
The new first mate – Bryan – seems like a good guy with a stick up his butt. And while he’s got his own crew problems going on, he’s quick to jump on Chief Stew Hannah for not being nice to the really awful third stewardess, Tiffany. It’s shades of Season One when Chief Stew Adrienne Gang was dealing with a useless stewardess named Sam, who had a massive attitude problem.
While Hannah and Julia have loads of experience between them, their crewmate Tiffany doesn’t want to be a part of the boat’s interior crew. Truthfully, she wants to be a captain, and she’s spent the last year crewing on dredge boats, and she’s got a degree in Marine Biology. She admits she prefers to work above deck.
“I’m not super detail oriented,” Tiffany tells the other girls.
“Why would you accept a position you don’t want?” Julia asks.
Hannah takes the reigns, immediately telling the girls she wants them to be on time and wear their hair up. I like her!
Below Deck Mediterranean Trailer
The deck crew has it easier because the exterior of the boat is in better shape for a charter than the exterior. Several crew members jump in to help the stews prep the interior, and load all of the supplies that have to be brought aboard. Literally everyone is in full flirt mode.
Deckhand Bobby is a firefighter and doesn’t seem to have much boating experience – but he can take orders and follow directions, which is one up on his crew mate Danny. Bobby’s funny as hell, but kind of a good-looking dork.
Danny’s been working on yachts for six months, and he has some issues with boundaries. He reminds me of wedding planning interns I’ve had who didn’t seem to understand that we’re the help, not guests. He’s going to challenge Bryan’s authority this season. At least he’s cute.
Keeping with tradition, there’s one female deckhand. But I don’t like Jen as much as I’ve liked the girls in prior seasons. Connie, in particular, was a rock star.
Although Jen has more experience than any of the other deckhands, she’s also go a ton of attitude. Bryan’s never had a female on his crew, and he’s not sure what to do with her. When the boys have trouble releasing the anchor, Jen knocks it free with one kick. Because she knows what she’s doing.
Everyone on the boat is horny – that’s the only way to describe all the “he’s hot, she’s hot” chit chat going on amongst everybody above and below deck.
“I don’t like boys,” Jen says. “I have a crush on Hannah.”
“So the boys have no chance, half of us are gay or taken,” Jen jokes to Julia, who has a boyfriend back home.
Primary charter guest Christine just launched a skincare line, and she’s on board with her husband, and four additional guests. Their requests aren’t too outrageous, except for her husband’s most important demand – to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers game aboard the yacht. He’s never missed one.
Hannah tries to hook up the computer to stream the football game on the yacht, but she’s not successful. She ends up hiking all over a tiny Greek town looking for a bar that would have it on the television, at 3 o’clock in the morning local time. She has no luck at all, and the Steelers fan is unhappy. Fortunately, the captain and the deck crew screw with it until they get it to stream, albeit slowly.
Meanwhile, there are problems above deck, too.
“It’s a little sexist and I see where this is going real fast,” Jen declares the very first night when Bryan teaches Bobby how to properly bring the tender up to the side of the yacht, but doesn’t seem to want to assign any real responsibility to her. I see what she means, but I also think she came into this with a huge chip on her shoulder.
Chef Ben starts out the season on a rough note, presenting a Greek cheese flambé that didn’t catch fire on the first try, and serving a moussaka that’s so gross and oily looking that nobody eats it.
In his defense, it’s gotta be hard to play professional chef while he’s wearing pajamas. Because that’s exactly what his Ionian Princess’s kitchen uniforms look like. Seriously. The navy ones and the white ones are equally just-rolled-out-of-bed looking. Not sure who picked those, but they’re butt-ugly. Unless they’re actually pajamas, in which case, they’re fine.
The first morning, the deck crew gets off to a rough start with Jen oversleeping by almost an hour. Then she puts Danny in a tough spot, expecting him to lie for her. He doesn’t stick his neck out, but he also doesn’t correct her when Bryan calls her out, and she tells the boss that she was only five to ten minutes late.
“I think it’s ungodly that I was chosen to get up at 6 am,” Jen says. Wahhhhh!
“It’s challenging for me to manage a team that lacks the ambition and drive that I have,” Bryan says. And he doesn’t even know Jen just lied to his face, and Danny said nothing about it. He’s in for a difficult charter season.
Tiffany is pretty useless. She’s not where she’s supposed to be when she supposed to be there, and she’s a big-ass whiner. She goes to bed earlier than she should, and doesn’t appear to be much of a team player below deck. With that said, she offers to “go gay” for Jen if she’s willing to switch jobs with her for a little while.
“I have a degree in Marine Biology. Like I don’t want to clean fucking toilets for a living,” Tiffany complains. Methinks Julia was on target – this is not the right job for Tiffany.
Fortunately for the crew’s tip, the second half of the Steelers’ game streams, and Bob-the-Guest is happier than he should be. While Hannah is thrilled the guest is happy, she’s less than pleased to find out that Tiffany spend the wee hours watching the game with Bob instead of doing the tasks on her to-do list. Like Danny, she’s having some trouble with boundaries.
After the guests depart, we learn that Tiffany, in addition to her other faults, is a sloppy drunk. She has zero class, swigging out of a wine bottle as she sways down the street. Hannah is appalled, and would rather not be seen in public with her. But the entire group is out together celebrating a successful first charter, so she really doesn’t have an option.
A wasted Tiffany makes the grave error of calling her boss “Mom,” implying Hannah’s old and not fun. It opens the door for Hannah to tell Tiffany she doesn’t belong in yachting the way she’s been behaving. The timing was probably not the best – it’s never a good idea to give somebody a performance review when you’re both drinking and one of you is TRASHED – but it was Hannah’s mistake to make.
Bryan jumps in and tells her to stop it, and ruins what had been the beginning of a great working relationship with Hannah. Then Ben talks a weeping Tiffany off the ledge, saying really nice, totally undeserved stuff to her.
Chief Stew Hannah’s feeling a little betrayed and that’s justified. Again, shades of Adrienne Gang.
Hannah bears zero resemblance to Kate Chastain from the last two seasons, and that’s a good thing. Resting Bitch Face is not attractive on anybody in a management position in the service industry.
Tiffany is getting entirely too much attention from the boys, but not paying attention to Hannah. Jen’s not getting enough attention from Bryan, but is more interested in the girls anyway. And Ben is playing the diva, ordering everybody to have conversations outside of his kitchen because people talking while he’s plating makes his job impossible!
I don’t know how much actual crewing this cast is actually doing, as we met three Greek crew members briefly in the first episode, and odds are they’re doing all the dirty work while the show is in production. But the teasers for this season show some mad drama, including a scene where somebody is giving CPR to a man down on the yacht’s deck.
Definitely worth watching.
Sandy Malone is the star of TLC’s reality show “Wedding Island” and a regular blogger for the Huffington Post and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a successful Caribbean destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island just off the coast of Puerto Rico. She also owns Weddings in Culebra, Flowers on Vieques and Boutiques in Vieques. Please follow her on Twitter!