Sunday, October 18, 2015

why the hell am I watching Below Deck?

Written by Todd Schoepflin and originally appearing in Creative Sociology.

Below Deck is a show on Bravo that my wife and I watch together. I've been asking myself why I watch this show. I think I have answers. For one, it's about money and social class. Rich people chart a yacht for leisure and luxury. It's a variation on the theme of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. For whatever reason, it's interesting to watch rich people hang out on a boat and be served upscale food. Maybe I'm jealous. Maybe I picture myself having the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to vacation like this in my next lifetime. I do like when the crew makes fun of the guests behind their backs.

Another factor is sexual intrigue. There is sexual tension on the yacht and sexual tension makes for good television. The most recent episode I watched included a liaison in the laundry room between two crew members. One of the participants, named Rocky, is a feisty and funny woman who in earlier episodes seemed close to a sexual encounter with Emile, a young man who seemed all too eager for sexual shenanigans. Rocky seems like a breakout star in the making. I wouldn't be surprised if she gets her own reality show after this season or at least is cast in a more high-profile show.

It's not all about sex. There's general fighting and bickering that occurs between crew members. Kate, the serious and always on her game crew member, is constantly busting the chops of chef Leon and accusing him of not trying hard enough to please the guests. Leon defends his culinary skills and tells Kate he doesn't like her, and usually does just enough in the kitchen to make the guests happy. I guess it's fun to watch people fight at work.

One more thing. There is drinking. Lots of drinking. The guests party. The crew parties. A deck hand named Dane showed up for a few episodes but was kicked off the yacht for excessive drinking. He was let go by Captain Lee, the cranky leader who demands high-level performance from his crew. The steady Captain displays a soft side in providing compliments and positive reinforcement at just the right times. He also distributes tip money to the crew that guests leave when they depart, usually in the $15,000 range. 15 large, baby!

So there you have it. Money. Rich people. Good-looking crew. Sex. Drinking. Arguing. Some of your basic ingredients in a 21st century reality show. Get your popcorn ready! And then get back to your normal life, buddy!


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