Reality AF: Below Deck Adventure Proves the Franchise's Winning Formula Works Regardless of Location

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Reality AF: <i>Below Deck Adventure</i> Proves the Franchise's Winning Formula Works Regardless of Location

Editor’s Note: Welcome to our Reality AF column, where Terry Terrones checks in on the state of reality TV in its many forms.

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Welcome to stunning Norway! It’s a place where the scenery is breathtaking, the summer sun rises at 5 a.m. and sets at 10 p.m., and vikings of old would’ve gotten drunk under the table by modern-day booze-guzzling charter guests.

Norway is also the place where the formula for the Below Deck franchise proves without a doubt that it can be effective no matter the location. At first glance, that might not sound like a big deal. After all, Norway is a place many, myself included, would like to visit. However, the Land of the Midnight Sun isn’t exactly the ideal place for a yachting experience. Not when summer high temperatures range from 57-65 degrees.

When most viewers think of a Below Deck charter adventure few of us could ever afford, we imagine jet skiing, rope swinging off the boat, or hanging out on the hilariously named floating platform, the Nautibuoy. Naturally this includes plenty of skimpy bikinis and swimsuits as well. Throw in white sand beaches and crystal clear water and every Below Deck series is a feast for the eyes.

While Norway is certainly stunning, its views are significantly less provocative. But don’t be concerned, Adventure is not the Below Deck version of The Bachelor Winter Games. This new series succeeds because it manages to faithfully apply a tried-and-true formula to a new locale. While adaptable to almost any site (there’s little hope for Below Deck Colorado although I continue to pine for The Real Housewives of Denver), after watching the premiere episode of Below Deck Adventure Bravo has proven with its fifth iteration it has a winning recipe. Here’s why:

A steadfast captain.
Captain Kerry is your prototypical Below Deck captain: experienced, capable, and with high expectations. Beyond the fact that they’re both Australian, he’ll remind many of Captain Jason from Below Deck Down Under because they have the same attitude about the job. They’re both hands-on and interact heavily with guests. If Jason’s season is any indication, that means Captain Kerry will likely have an eye fixed on the deck team, as it’s the area with the biggest safety risks on the ship.

A real life upstairs/downstairs dynamic.
The Below Deck franchise is unlike any other Bravo property because the cast are actually working on the show. The young crew is really cleaning toilets, doing laundry, serving guests, and at times, wiping up vomit and other bodily fluids. These men and women work hard, and the first charter guests on Below Deck Adventure perfectly model this. A group joins the motor yacht Mercury in beautiful Alesund, Norway, and immediately starts pounding booze.

They begin with champagne then move to mixed drinks, beer, shots, then martinis. This group was so intoxicated I felt like I was contact drunk just watching the episode. Meanwhile the crew are busting a move, refilling drinks, cleaning the ship, and cooking food all while everyone starts to find their place on the boat.

Watching young people do stupid things never gets old.
To be fair, this concept wasn’t created by Below Deck, it’s been reality TV 101 from the jump. However, this franchise may have perfected it. Just imagine if YOU had to live with the people you work with. Take a minute. Crazy, right? How many people did you just imagine murdering? I won’t make you answer that, but you get the point.

While battle lines are still being drawn, after watching the premiere of Below Deck Adventure there are plenty of hints of what’s to come:

— There will be a battle between chief stew Faye and chef Jess: The service for the first dinner was a discombobulated mess and chefs are egomaniacal tyrants. If there’s anything that this franchise has proven time and again, it’s that chefs are jerks.

—Kyle is this season’s villain. The cast of Adventure is loaded with four Americans, and sadly, Kyle looks like he’ll try and represent the Ugly American stereotype most people despise. He butts heads with a fellow deckhand, repeatedly says he doesn’t take sh- from anyone (that’s some serious foreshadowing), and is immediately condescending to his kind-hearted British bosun, Lewis.

—There are multiple hookups: Usually on a season of Below Deck there’s one boatmance, but this season it appears there will be three. Woohoo! What could possibly go wrong?!?

—The chef is under fire: In a preview it appears Jess, who dubs herself as The Wanderlust Chef, either quits or gets fired.

And then, of course, there are all the great one-liners that will embarrass the crew when their words and/or actions show up on national TV, especially if taken out of context:

“Best life. Fishing for pubes!” – Kasie while cleaning a shower.

“Any opportunity I get, I wanna have my legs in the air.” – Kasie in a preview.

“You only p- with the d- you got.” – Captain Kerry to chief stew Faye and stew Oriana.

“Let’er rip tater chip.” – Kyle after farting in his and fellow deckhand Nathan’s cabin as he walks out.

“She’s high strung and very stressed. I don’t really respect her.” – Kasie after pretending to be happy to see Oriana, who she worked with on a previous boat.

Let the drama begin! While it’s much too soon to tell if Adventure will be as good as its Below Deck counterparts, as long as the franchise sticks to its winning formula, I’ll always tune in.



Terry Terrones is a Television Critics Association and Critics Choice Association member, licensed drone pilot, and aspiring hand model. When he’s not applying to be the first 50+ deckhand in Below Deck history, you can find him hiking in the mountains of Colorado. You can follow him on Twitter @terryterrones.

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