Television Review: ‘Below Deck,’ Bravo’s Reality Show Aboard a Yacht

July 1st, 2013

It’s a good thing the earth is flat, because that means the Honor, the yacht that is the focus of the new Bravo reality series “Below Deck,” is bound to sail over the edge someday. That would presumably relieve us of the obligation to pay any further attention to the people on it.

Justin Stephens/Bravo

Below Deck From left, Ben Robinson, C. J. Lebeau, Kathleen Held and Adrienne Gang work on a charter yacht on this Bravo reality show on Monday nights at 10, Eastern and Pacific times; 9, Central time.

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It’s not actually the crew members — the stars of this series — who are unbearable. It’s the clients who rent the Honor out for what we can assume are absurd fees. The word “insufferable” was invented for these people, whose response to the blessing of having enough money to rent a yacht is to be obnoxious and pretentious.

In Monday’s pilot, the clients are annoying photographers headed for a fashion shoot. Their constant snickering and rampant self-absorption make you ardently hope for a rogue wave. In Episode 2, one passenger’s demands for “green juice” leads to a shortage of vegetables as the kitchen staff grinds up everything green in sight trying to please her.

But rich people with an undeserved sense of entitlement are no doubt inescapable in the yachting world. The real issue with this series is that the crew members aren’t all that interesting. There are the usual catfights and territorial disputes, as well as some hints that intra-crew sex might happen. But no one really stands out.

Oh, there are vague “types” among them. Adrienne is too serious for her own good. C. J. likes to defy the captain by running around without his shirt. Ben, the chef, comes closest to making an impression, or at least his appetizing-looking food does.

That these people aren’t more compelling is puzzling because ever since a sneak preview of the series was shown a few weeks ago, yachting chat boards have been dotted with comments suggesting that the cast doesn’t actually have much crewing experience and consists mostly of trolls seeking reality-TV fame.

If that’s true, it should surprise no one at this point in the life of the reality genre. Only the blandness should give pause. Somebody please call a Real Housewife or “Jersey Shore” alumnus to give these people some lessons.

Below Deck

Bravo, Monday nights at 10, Eastern and Pacific times; 9, Central time.

Produced by 51 Minds. Mark Cronin and Courtland Cox, executive producers; James Bruce, co-executive producer.

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