The Season 7 premiere of Below Deck Mediterranean, one of several series in the Below Deck TV universe capturing the trials and tribulations of a superyacht crew in the heat of charter season, features diva charter guests; a pair of deckhands trapped in quarantine; a drag show; a clandestine boatmance between the chef and chief stewardess; and concludes on a cliffhanger as the vessel loses its stabilizers, sending bottles and pans flying and nearly tipping over.
So… why was it such a damn snooze?
By now, the formula for a successful Below Deck season has been well established. The first thing you need is a dynamic chief stew—the real star of the show—who’s confident, intimidating, possessed of a barbed wit, and will absolutely not suffer fools. They serve as our guides through this bizarro world of luxury and privilege.
Kate Chastain, the original Below Deck chief stew and Captain Lee’s right hand, had shade to spare, regaling audiences with her caustic comments. Daisy Kelliher, Irish master of ceremonies on Below Deck Sailing Yacht, can party with the best of ’em and has no qualms about calling out the show’s insufferably entitled charter guests behind their backs (in her pleasing Irish accent, no less). And Hannah Ferrier, the live-wire Aussie who served as chief stew for the first five seasons of Below Deck Med and could melt a deckhand’s face off with one scornful “honey,” made for captivating television—that is, till she was cruelly discarded by Captain Sandy (more on that later). But Natasha Webb, chief stew of the motor yacht Home on this season of Med, is guarded, soft-spoken, and utterly devoid of charisma. When “I actually haven’t enjoyed these guests” is the highest amount of contempt your chief stew can muster, you know there’s a problem. Class conflict this is not.
Typically, one of the greatest sources of intrigue on Below Deck is the mounting tension between the chief stew and her team. Hannah’s “Lady, don’t touch me!” clash with the impossible Lara Flumiani on Season 5 of Med comes to mind, as well as Chastain’s Guantanamo-esque torture of Caroline Bedol aboard My Seanna, which miraculously went unpunished. There hasn’t been a single ounce of strain among the stew team through the first five episodes of Med. They appear perfectly in sync and professional (boring!), perhaps due to the fact that the second stew, Natalya, is a near-exact replica of Natasha.
Then there’s the chef. The Below Deck franchise is renowned for its magnetic, reactionary, endlessly inventive food wizards who often find themselves locking horns with the chief stew. Chef Ben Robinson is the king in this regard—a bawdy Brit whose banter with Chastain is Grade A entertainment. You could listen to these two fire shots at each other for hours, babe. Chef Dave White, on the other hand, is a man of very few words—“The primary didn’t really care for lunch”—who quietly weeps in his bunk, and whose tortured relationship with Natasha, all pained gazes, whimpering, and text messages, is a distressing watch. They make Adam Glick and Jenna MacGillivray’s union on Season 1 of Sailing Yacht look idyllic by comparison. Chef Dave is at least talented, though, unlike Down Under’s Ryan McKeown.
Let’s talk about the deck. Along with the chief stew, who lords over the interior, and the chef, who commands the galley, the other lead character on Below Deck is the bosun, a deck boss in charge of the exterior (or all the equipment). The deck crew is usually a rowdy, horny gang of himbos (and the occasional woman) who work hard, party harder, and often butt heads—it’s a high-stress environment, after all!—but are reeled in by the bosun, who keeps things under control. They’re also the captain’s eyes and ears—or, in the case of Eddie Lucas, the son they never had. It’s an added thrill to witness old deckhands graduate to bosun as the seasons go on (see Kelley, Nico and Malia), or observe female deckhands beat the odds and thrive, like Connie and Izzy. This Med deck crew, however, is an unqualified disaster thanks to Raygan Tyler, one of the more frustratingly inept crew members to ever feature on the series.
Raygan, whose Northern U.K. accent is barely intelligible, is the second-ever female bosun in the series’ history after Malia who, when she’s not moonlighting as a DEA agent, does an admirable job with the greenest of deckhands. Unlike Malia, who was a tireless worker, Raygan appears to be remarkably lazy, always on smoke breaks or in bed recovering from a night of heavy drinking (those dance moves!). Her management style is non-existent, leaving her poor deckhands running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Heck, she doesn’t even seem to know how long a meter is. The rest of the deck crew, meanwhile, is comprised of two timid lifelong pals and a grating ex-finance bro with a man bun who once got punched out at a Taco Bell. Who wants to see these drips blow off steam at the club? Not that they can, anyway, since Chef Dave’s sad-boy antics disrupt every night out.
And then there’s Captain Sandy.
I’d be lying if I said I’d forgiven Captain Sandy for the way she treated Hannah during Season 5 of Med—showing her the door over a vape pen and prescribed valium meant to treat her anxiety. After all you’ve been through that’s how you’re going to say goodbye? Not to mention, Sandy seemed to delight in torturing Hannah, constantly threatening to fire her even though she’d witnessed her crippling panic attacks firsthand. Captain Sandy is the biggest micromanager among all the Below Deck captains and drives chefs up the wall with her ceaseless scrutiny of dishes. If we’re to believe that Captain Sandy has at least some degree of control over the hiring of her team, she’s proven to be a terrible judge of talent responsible for some of the worst crew members over the course of the show’s run, including Chef Mila Kolomeitseva, a vile homophobe who faked her résumé; Peter Hunziker, a creep who was edited out of his season due to racist social media posts; Lara Flumiani, a fount of insubordination; Lexi Wilson, an brat who attacked the entire crew in a drunken fit of rage; and…Raygan.
I don’t want to put all the blame on the cast, however. The shooting and editing this season has been a mess. How did the yacht almost flipping over not feel the least bit suspenseful? Where are the mouth-watering shots of food being prepped and plated? Why was a drag show on deck reduced to a choppily-edited 22-second clip? With the exception of one blink-and-you’ll-miss-it drone shot over a cave, Malta has never looked so unenticing.
Bravo, I beg of you, please do whatever you can to get Captain Glenn and the Sailing Yacht crew back on our screens soon. After this depressing season of Med, we yachtie fans are in dire need of some good vibes.