I've barely had time to recover from the most recent season of Below Deck Med, but BD Prime is back, and the Valor has relocated from the Caribbean to Thailand for the seventh season of Bravo's Vanderpump Road Rules: Semester At SUR yachting reali-drama. Returning to the helm is the Burt Reynolds of the high seas, Captain Lee, along with chief stew Kate Chastain and Ashton Pienaar, who's gotten a promotion to bosun.
A Below Deck season premiere always brings with it a whole raft (as it were) of new faces and personality disorders, not to mention multiple montages of the crew scrambling to get food and cocktails and water toys where they need to be, so the inaugural BD power rankings for the seventh season may seem somewhat vague. I'm having to slot people based on their preferred baseball teams (Tanner's Mets fandom is relatable...but suggests a certain masochism) or seven-second snippets of their complaining about shells hurting their feet. As we get to know new deckhands Abbi, Brian, and Tanner and worrisomely inexperienced stews Courtney and Simone, I'll get a better handle on where to to put them in the standings.
For now, an honorary last place to the show's editors, who not only provided far too much audio of Chef Kevin's intestinal distress, but cut from it to a shot of a bowl of CHOCOLATE GANACHE before hurling us into the this-season-on segment. ...Y'all. No. (But also kind of hee?)
Let's set sail with the first Below Deck power rankings of a new season...
1. Captain Lee. Still waiting on the first wordless "FOH" talking-head-interview face of the season; won't be waiting long.
2. Kate. Couldn't agree much more with her comments on the "scam" that is family-style service, but this inveterate over-planner felt she was too dismissive of Kevin's request for a label-maker. Her hairstyle remains a multi-pin Escherian construction enigma reminiscent of late-90210 Escher updos.
3. Ashton. Ashton's in full new-boss mode, so concerned with impressing Captain Lee in the bosun role that he forgets to give his staff a dinner break -- but he does realize his mistake himself, and take responsibility. Unlikely to continue in this high a spot, though, if memory of his self-righteous streak serves.
4. Tanner. The poor man's Bradley Cooper probably wasn't allowed to get out of the talking-head chair until he spilled some deets about his history with older women, but still: eye-roll. The Mets thing could mean any number of things about his personality...
5. The guests. Deeply basic, but they all are on this show, and this group seems nice enough (and can hold their liquor, at least in Ep 1). The show clearly wants us to think it's lame that the primary and his girlfriend FaceTime with their dog, but I think it's cute.
6. Brian. In my experience with this show, crew members talking about how having a kid served as a wake-up call for them usually means we'll have to endure several blackout-drunk capital-I Incidents, followed by Red-Bull-scented weeping about needing to straighten up for [kid's name]. Let's hope Brian's an exception.
7. Abbi. Quit law school to become a sailor. There's a way into that "what do you call 1000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean" joke, but I can't quite see it from here. What I CAN see is that her leaving her big mane of Merida-from-Brave hair down while working around a lot of tangle-prone lines is going to drive me nuts. It's called a French braid, lady.
8. Simone. Pleasant enough so far, but does forget to put plates out -- and can't make any cocktails, which, how does the boat/the show even let you onto the dock if you can't at least muster up a Cosmo?
9. Kevin. By turns passive-aggressive with Kate about how she's running service, and condescending to her critical remarks about the other stews, so I guess it's only valid criticism if it's 1) made by him, 2) under his breath. On his side re: the label-maker, but his neurotic response to the primary coming down to ask for a cheese plate made it hard to feel sorry for him when the gut bomb detonated.
10. Courtney. "I'm not used to, like, servitude" is not a great look in this gig; nor is the (granted, strongly shaped in editing) relatively short walk back from a beach bar that Courtney spends the entirety of complaining that it's really long (and hot, and sharp underfoot). Still too early to tell much, though.
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Sarah D. Bunting co-founded Television Without Pity, and her work has appeared in Glamour and New York, and on MSNBC, NPR's Monkey See blog, MLB.com, and Yahoo!. She's also the editor-in-chief and publisher of Tomato Nation, and true-crime blog and podcast The Blotter Presents