Real or fake? How genuine is the cast of ‘Below Deck’?
Below Deck brings the drama. The Bravo series details the lives of crew members who work on a mega-yacht during charter season and have to entertain their wealthy guests. The mingling of personal & professional issues has made for compelling TV, but the constant fighting has led some to question whether the series is real or scripted.
Captain Lee Rosbach told Reality Blurred that his crew and his yacht operation are 100% real. He chooses his own engineer & first officer and is able to fire any crew member who jeopardizes the safety of the guests. “I can’t speak directly to if anybody gets fired or something to that effect, but I can tell you that I do have that authority, yes,” he explained.
Rosbach’s emphasis on safety extends to the main cast. “Each crew member has to have an STCW, which is a standard set by the maritime industry for watch-keeping and being on board—it’s basic first aid, firefighting,” the Captain reasoned. “It’s a two-week course and a certification they have to have before they’re allowed to work on yachts.”
Rosbach told the outlet that the drama that occurs on screen is genuine. “I think it’s a pretty accurate snapshot, I really do,” he asserted. “What happens happens and it’s all caught on film. Some people may disagree with that assessment, but you’ve always got drama on board a boat. Any time you get people that are living and working together in that close proximity, you’re going to have issues.”
Other cast members have supported Rosbach’s claims of authenticity. Linda P. Jones was a guest on season 6 of Below Deck, and she told Bravo that most everything that occurs on board is unplanned. “The show is 100% real,” she revealed. “The producers basically said, we want to create an amazing trip for you. Just have a good time, and that’s what we did. So, no, it’s definitely not scripted.”
Jones claimed she did not witness any bickering firsthand. She cited only one instance of a fight that she overheard from above deck, and felt that the Below Deck crew acted “professionally” on the whole. In fact, Jones found the crew so interesting that she felt worthwhile bits ended up on the cutting room floor.
“When we all went into dinner, [Rosbach] joined us, and again we enjoyed listening to his stories,” Jones recalled. “I don’t know why Below Deck didn’t use the conversation. They barely had us saying anything, so I’m not sure why they choose certain moments over another. There were some funny things that happened that didn’t make it onto Below Deck.”
Despite the emphasis on reality, there are some aspects of Below Deck that are fictional. The show takes place on a different yacht each season, but sometimes they are renamed to protect the interests of the owners. The Cinemaholic reported that the season 1 vessel known as “Honor” is actually called “Cuor di Leone”, and that the vessel’s original crew was given time off during filming.
There’s also the matter of the cash tips. Below Deck charter broker Lauren Littlejohn, told the outlet that the crew is often tipped from an envelope full of cash. It’s made to look like a tip from the guests but oftentimes it’s from the show budget. In instances where the guests do tip, their wire transfers are converted into cash so it looks more appealing on screen.
Below Deck attempts to keep things as real as possible, but there are some parts of the series that are subject to exaggeration or staging. It still trumps most reality shows in terms of authenticity & accuracy.