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Review: Below Deck Mediterranean Rights the Ship in Season 6 Opener

A predominantly new cast helps Below Deck Med move on from Hannah's messy firing.
  • Deckhand Zee Dempers and chef Matthew Shea in Below Deck Mediterranean Season 6. (Photo: Laurent Basset/Bravo)
    Deckhand Zee Dempers and chef Matthew Shea in Below Deck Mediterranean Season 6. (Photo: Laurent Basset/Bravo)

    For the past five seasons viewers have relied on the tension between Chief Stewardess Hannah Ferrier and Captain Sandy Yawn to propel Below Deck Mediterranean through the stormy seas. As they transitioned from boat to boat, the two clashed over table decor, Hannah’s managerial style, and Sandy’s service expectations, but it was an unregistered vape pen and Valium prescription that ultimately got the chief stew booted from both the ship and the franchise halfway through Season 5. The crew recovered, with Bugsy Drake stepping into the lead interior role, but Below Deck Med never quite did, as fans were forced to sit through the dullest of storylines as the season wound down.

    With this in mind, one would expect Below Deck Mediterranean Season 6 to suffer something of a hangover as it embarks upon its first full charter season without Hannah. There are a few references to Hannah’s firing — Sandy pointedly warns the crew that all prescribed medication must be logged — but on the whole, the new season brims with drama from its very first moments, and a boatful of new cast members (with the exception of Sandy and bosun Malia White, who delivered Hannah’s backstab in the first place) promise to shake things up right when the franchise needs it most.

    In Season 6, Captain Sandy and her crew head to Šibenik, Croatia on the Adriatic Sea and board what is perhaps the franchise’s most expensive motor yacht yet, the 180-foot Lady Michelle. With at least three winding staircases and crew areas on multiple levels, Lady Michelle’s layout ensures that guests get the “Disney World” experience, says Sandy, and aren’t exposed to the crew’s behind-the-scenes action. But when your high-rolling clients expect perfection, the constant ups and downs (in this case, literally) create yet another obstacle for a group that lacks the experience of prior crews.

    Below Deck has always counted on the tension between its experienced and inexperienced factions to generate drama when the crew is actively on charter — and therefore can’t engage in drunken shenanigans and messy love triangles — and this year promises to be no exception. Stepping into Hannah Ferrier’s chief stewardess role is Katie Flood, a New Zealand native with six years of yachting under her belt. Katie seems to have a solid handle on the interior department and a proactive attitude that will impress Sandy, but it’s only a matter of time before she clashes with the women working underneath her, Lexie Wilson and Courtney Veale. Lexie, a former Miss Universe contestant from the Bahamas, seems particularly primed for major drama with Katie: just seconds after being named second stewardess, Lexie complains about the “lazy bitch mentality” that seems to affect all chief stews. And yet, while cleaning up a guest cabin, Lexie tells a deckhand to just fold a few items and then close the suitcase lid, explaining, “Why work so hard when you can work easy?” In the world of Below Deck, a comment like that is no different than waving around a gun in the first act of a play.

    Outside, Malia has her hands full with green deckhand Mzi “Zee” Dempers, who carries around a notebook to write down tips of the trade; Lloyd Spencer, a former deck engineer; and David, a Brit who already seems flustered around his boss. Things remain relatively tame on deck in the season premiere — the real drama comes from inside the boat — but the Season 6 super-teaser suggests that conflict is on the horizon, as both David and Lloyd can be seen flirting with Malia. If spoiler-shy Bravo is comfortable teasing that Dave and Lloyd are “competing for the same girl,” the actual love triangle is likely far more intense, and viewers are in for a treat when the situation finally comes to a head.

    Below Deck Med Season 6 also introduces a new chef, Matthew Shea. A classically-trained French Chef from Rhode Island, Matthew has worked as a private chef for high-end clients including Hugh Jackman, Robert Kraft, and Rupert Murdoch, but all the experience in the world couldn’t prepare him for charter season aboard the Lady Michelle. Among the Below Deck shows, Med has the worst track record with chefs, but Matthew has the opportunity to be the first to make it through a full charter season since Adam Glick in Season 3. Will he be able to hack it, or will Lady Michelle get the best of him? If Matthew’s provisioning skills are any indication, Sandy may be searching for a new chef by charter four.

    Captain Sandy may be stuck in her ways, but the new crew members help Below Deck Mediterranean hit the refresh button in Season 6. Here's hoping the drama in the season premiere is just the tip of a very large, hookup-filled iceberg.

    Below Deck Mediterranean Season 6 premieres Monday June 28 at 9:00 PM ET on Bravo.

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    Claire Spellberg Lustig is the TV Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.

    TOPICS: Below Deck Mediterranean, Bravo, Hannah Ferrier