If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey but you’ve always thought, “Gee, this sure would be more enjoyable if it took place in modern times and all the characters were on a yacht instead of in a house,” then congratulations, Bravo read your mind and made your dream show! It’s called Below Deck, and it’s a new reality show about the young employees on a luxury mega-yacht called Honor. The water they’re floating on is deep, but the characters are oh so shallow. And that goes for the both employees and the rich people they serve/get drunk. Because Bravo’s most impressive talent is discovering the most shallow people in America and also on the high seas. The boat’s captain, Lee, forbids fraternizing with the guests or generally getting into trouble, so of course there’s plenty of responsible behavior ahead of us… on opposite day.
When the show introduces us to our main characters, it becomes clear very quickly that most of these people took the job because offices are boring and yachts are fun! Sam, for instance, used to be a regular girl making $32,000 a year working 9-5 in an office where they constantly fed her cookies and cake. Obviously that was torture, so she set out to put her experience on her parents’ yacht to good use. Apparently working on your parents’ yacht holds a stigma in the yacht employee community, so Sam will have to overcome her Mudblood roots and prove herself. Once she’s done “accidentally” taking naps on the job and telling her superiors to “cool your jets.” Keep working on that, Sam.
Sam could star on a remake of Sam & Cat with Kat, who proves to be one of the most reasonable people on the boat based on this week’s events, but the previews show her acting like the most irresponsible one there, so I don’t know what to think anymore. I thought maybe she would be the innocent Daisy in this series’ version of Downton, but I’m not so sure. Kat is involved in the premiere’s biggest conflict, since she finds cocaine among the guests’ belongings and does the responsible thing by telling her boss, who then tells the captain, who then turns that yacht right around. It cost everybody tips but it also potentially saved everyone their jobs, so… weigh it.
There’s also Dave, a gay man who laments the fact that he can’t fit all his lotions in his tiny yacht quarters, but we don’t see much of him this episode. He rooms with Eddie, your classic yachty type whose family supposedly came over on the Mayflower and who finds his roommate’s advances amusing. As he says, “I live on the bottom bunk. That doesn’t mean I’m a bottom.” I should add that for the first half of the episode I couldn’t tell any of the men apart, because they all have either long flippy hair or impeccably waxed eyebrows or both. So when I talk about Eddie I guess I could also be talking about Dave or possibly Aleks, the first officer trying to overcome his young age and prove himself, or maybe even C.J., who somehow thought he was signing up for the “Let’s Go Surfing And Shave Our Backs And Get Paid For It” job. The one man I could never mistake for anyone else is Ben, the yacht’s chef, who’s like if you crossed Mrs. Patmore with Gordon Ramsay. He’s British and he has wild porcupine hair and don’t ask him to make the same thing twice, because even he won’t remember how he made it. Seriously, that’s what he said.
And then there’s Adrienne. Oh my goodness is there Adrienne. She’s the chief steward and she lives and breathes yacht work. I initially saw her as the Paris Geller-esque hardass, what with her tight bun and the fact that she scolds Sam in the middle of a pleasant employee dinner party. But she also seems to have her own hopes and dreams, since she takes the attention away from 6-foot-tall Sam to model her fanciest uniform for the fashion photographers on board. “You want me to wear this with no pants? I can do that, hold on, I’ll be right back, pay attention to meeee!!!”
And speaking of the fashion photographers, I can already tell that the yacht’s chartered guests will be one the highlights. This week we met Johnny Eyelash, a carefree photographer who likes to wear dirty bathrobes and drink, drink, drink. He would also like to eat sausage for breakfast, and the pause that occurs in the room when he asks for it is simply beautiful.
In short, it’s like if the servants at Downton were all shallow and work-averse, and if the Crawleys were a bunch of gay photographers. And if the house was a boat. So it’s basically the same show.