It’s an odd sensation to watch a television programme close the gap between life and art and stranger still to watch a reality tv series manage the feat. Or at least that seems to be the grudging opinion in the Crew Mess. Still, the exigencies of the Bravo Network are very much in command but Season 3 of Below Deck has set a new and potential interesting course.
It stands to reason that after the this is yachting, introduce the viewers, explain the obvious, add the details mode finally ends something else can take its place.
While Kat ‘Made for TV’ Held will be missed, barring a mid season surprise surprise, the de-emphasis on the drinking and general debauchery is offering a viewers a more interesting view of the yachting life. If the teaser trailer is any indication, Season 3 might just be the most watchable and discernible yet.
Though they might not be stock reality tv characters, the new crew has three very definite yachting characters with: Raquel, the ambitious, I’m a Chef not a Stew, Don, the overly ordered engineer and Emile, the amiable South African farmhand out to see the world. Everyone who has ever thrown on Eppies has worked with at least one of these people.
The ‘I’m a Chef not a Stew’ is a walking contradiction of a crewmate. Naturally, the Captain told her she’d get some grill time but it never works out that way. Just too much laundry to be prepared. At best she gets to cook the odd crew meal or maybe, just maybe the Chef falls ill on Charter and she gets to step in. That or she will be grudgingly permitted to cook breakfast. That’s right, Breakfast, the AAA ball of the culinary arts. The problem with this character is that they have a sort of occupational schizophrenia. Are they a stew or a chef? No one is sure, least of all themselves and they absolutely must externalize this splitting of theirs. It’s a good mid-level conflict that should segway into amusing subject matters.
Then of course, the Engineer or as many note, Whingineer. No one really knows what goes on down there; other than it is something to do with a faulty sensor or the tolerances or some techno gibberish they relish in explaining to you during tea at 3. Don should definitely develop into an amusing character, particularly with his own Deck/Engineering Schizophrenia. But it’s that painfully ordered, precise, rigorous engineering mentality that should be the real entertainment. We’re thinking highly specific eating habits or routines, maybe even a Howard Hughes style obsessiveness for protocol. It’s a great mindset for the engine room but might be a nice clash out on deck.
And finally, Emile. It’s fitting that he should be the youngest of the crew, amping up the inevitable culture clash with a nice generational angle. We’ve already started the countdown clock for the Biltong Box he is going to install in his cabin. Add to that the laddish, slightly rakish nature of the average ZAFer and there is certain to be playful sexism and stew cringe.
While reality tv is still reality tv, it seems that the Below Deck show runners have opted to add a tincture of real life to the series rather than a shot of rum.