Editor’s Note: Welcome to our new column, Reality AF. Every Monday, Terry Terrones will check in and talk about the state of reality TV, plus provide a Top 5 list of what’s coming up this week that you should not miss.
Bravo’s Below Deck franchise is the reality TV version of Downton Abbey.
Like its fictional counterpart, Below Deck’s beautiful settings, high drama, and upstairs/downstairs experience makes for great TV. Rooting for the fun-loving people working behind the scenes of a yacht as they serve rich meatheads who insist on sabering champagne bottles every five minutes or a guest who wonders “what the poor people are doing” is just flat out fun.
Below Deck is a fascinating and underrated reality franchise with four different iterations that run almost year round. Below Deck Mediterranean, which recently received two Emmy nominations and airs its 100th episode tonight, began its seventh season July 11 and is led by Captain Sandy Yawn.
To get to know Captain Sandy away from the 163-foot motor yacht “Home,” I asked her 12 simple questions:
1) When you were a kid what did you imagine doing for a living?
I wanted to be a scientist or marine biologist to save sea life. I’ve always loved the sea and wanted a career on the water. I had no idea I would become a captain. It was never on my radar.
2) When did you know you wanted to be a captain?
In 1992, I began washing boats and had about 14 boats per week to clean. I was approached by a man who offered me a full-time job to keep his boat clean. During this time, he also taught me how to drive the boat and ended up sending me to maritime school. I knew then that I wanted to become a captain.
3) What’s the best part of your job? Worst?
The best part is meeting people from all over the world and taking them out to sea. I enjoy mentoring the crew and paying it forward as well. The hardest part is managing all the different personalities and expectations on board.
4) What has been one of your strangest or funniest moments while on the show?
Last season, when we had to jump in and cook dinner for the charter guests on the first night.
5) Which of your former crew do you keep in touch with the most?
Max Hagley, Bugsy Drake, and Malia White.
6) What are three foods you have to have in your fridge or pantry?
Oranges for fresh orange juice, oatmeal, and Oreos.
7) What’s your all-time favorite song?
“Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
8) Where would you most like to live? If it’s Colorado, since you already live there, please tell me what you enjoy most about it.
Florida/LA. I love Colorado, too. It’s beautiful and I love to ski.
9) Who are your heroes in real life?
My sister, Michelle, for the sacrifice she made for her son. She founded Jacksonville School for Autism (JSA) 15 years ago as a means to help her son, Nicholas. Everything she has done and still does for ocean advocacy.
10) Tell me about a time you were starstruck.
When I met Emily Deschanel from Bones. I love that show.
11) What are three words you’d use to describe yourself?
Playful, childlike spirit, and selfless.
12) What is your motto?
Do the next right thing in life.
New episodes of Below Deck Mediterranean air Mondays on Bravo, and drop a week early throughout the season on Peacock.
5 Reality Shows to Watch This Week
1. Below Deck Mediterranean (Bravo, July 18)
Why you should watch it: What, you think I’d interview Captain Sandy and NOT recommend watching her show? Come on now. If you need even more BD goodness, Below Deck Down Under, which was previously exclusive to Peacock, is airing its first season on Tuesdays.
2. The Bachelorette (ABC, July 18)
Why you should watch it: After giving up on this franchise a few years ago I watched last week’s premiere and (coughing, looking around uncomfortably) I liked it. Despite not having watched it recently, I was intrigued by having all 35 (35!) men fight over two women. This should lead to plenty of drama, the wiping away of tears that don’t exist, and if we’re lucky someone despondently leaning over a balcony Jason Mesnick-style.
3. Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel (HBO/HBO Max, July 19)
Why you should watch it:
Real Sports is the sports version of 60 Minutes. Of course my wife calls 60 Minutes my “old man show,” so while Real Sports may only appeal to more mature audiences it’s still fantastic. This month’s episode profiles the Philly Phanatic, sumo wrestling, and bird watching. It’s an odd combination but I’m all in even though I don’t know anything about any of these topics.
4. Cesar Millan: Better Human Better Dog (Nat/Geo and Disney+, Season Premiere July 22)
Why you should watch it: Dogs are better than people but since they listen to Cesar Millan, it must mean he’s a pretty good person. If you love dogs (and you should or I don’t think we can be friends anymore), you’ll enjoy the second season of this series that returns today.
5. Blown Away (Netflix, Season Premiere July 22)
Why you should watch it: You wouldn’t think a series about glass blowers would be that interesting but I recommend giving this series, which begins its third season today, a shot. While on my honeymoon in Venice my wife and I saw a glass blowing demonstration. I watched a guy create a tiny horse in about 2 minutes and I was, well, blown away.
Terry Terrones is a Television Critics Association and Critics Choice Association member, licensed drone pilot, and aspiring hand model.
When he’s not applying for Survivor, you can find him hiking in the mountains of Colorado. You can follow him on Twitter @terryterrones.
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