All hands on deck (Image: Archi Banal)
All hands on deck (Image: Archi Banal)

Pop CultureAugust 18, 2023

Why you should be watching Below Deck: Down Under

All hands on deck (Image: Archi Banal)
All hands on deck (Image: Archi Banal)

We’ve found ten of Down Under’s best moments so far this season – and there’s plenty more shocking drama to come. 

Below Deck: Down Under sailed back into our lives only a few weeks ago, but it’s already reminding us why this is the best reality format around. Down Under follows all the behind-the-scenes action on a luxury super yacht sailing off the Queensland coast, as the frazzled crew scramble to meet every over-the-top request of their wealthy guests. It’s the Australian version of the TV franchise with a little bit of everything, and Below Deck has turned New Zealand crew like Aesha Scott, Katie Flood and Colin McCrae into international reality stars. 

Next week, some of the Below Deck’s most shocking episodes ever (spoilers here) will screen in New Zealand. Ahead of the big drama, we put on our captain’s binoculars and stared pensively into the distance to reflect on everything that’s already made Below Deck: Down Under so unmissable – including one tiny kitchen, two bulging eyeballs and a sea of red flags.

Eye-eye, captain

“I’m really into eyeballs,” are words you don’t hear enough in the super yacht industry, but it’s no surprise they came from Kiwi Below Deck legend Aesha Scott. Never has Aesha been more excited than when Captain Jason invited her to stick her fingers into his oculus – not just once, but apparently every single morning?! “This is the most fun ever!” Aesha squealed as the contact made contact with Jason’s bulging baby blues, proving that absolutely nothing ever phases our Antipodean sea queen. / Tara Ward

Luke and Captain Jason

Bosun Luke makes me puke 

Keep your eyes closely trained on Bosun Luke. From the very first episode, where he asks a crew member to close her eyes so he can get an eyelash, then kisses her without her consent, the alarm bells start. He later goes on to describe someone as a “stage five clinger”, gaslights and condescends another crew member he had been drunkenly pursuing the night prior, and then finally reveals what was behind that big red flag in episode eight. If you ever needed proof of the “walks like a duck” horrible man theorem, look no further than Luke. / Alex Casey

What the heck is going on with the boat?

When you’re used to Below Deck filming on the sleek, shiny world of European super yachts, it’s quite the vibe shift to see this series taking place on Northern Sun, an old fishing vessel built in 1977. While the bedrooms are huge and the walnut paneling impressive, this boat only has one propeller and no electronic capabilities, which is exactly how I like to describe my own aging hull. An old dunger or a true classic? Or just a boat, floating on the ocean, asking us to love it? You decide.  / TW

Everything is fine

The chef is doing amazing sweetie 

If you thought The Bear was stressful, wait until you see the kitchen on this damn boat. It’s about the size of Harry Potter’s broom closet, barely has any pots and pans and the fridge is only slightly bigger than a promotional Tui man cave mini-fridge. And yet, Tzarina Mace-Ralph is turning out lobster tail and T-Bone steaks, sushi platters and only the occasional botched dessert. It’s Masterchef of the sea, and dinner service is always a tense time. / AC


Aesha continues to be the greatest

From her endless positivity to her “amaaaaaaaaazing” vocabulary to her joyful friendship with Captain Jason, this franchise would be dull as hell without Aesha. The iconic Kiwi chief stew is not simply on Below Deck; she is Below Deck. Plus, we haven’t even seen her at her best yet, with upcoming episodes proving how solid Aesha is in a crisis and how protective she is of other women. Aesha for prime minister? Two ticks all round. / TW

Please keep your hands on the wheel

Captain Jason returns to the scene of the crime

Just as Chris Warner must return to the halls of Shortland Street where he was shot, or Tess McLeod to the cliff that took her sister’s life, Captain Jason Chambers must too return to a traumatic location in this season of Below Deck Down Under. In 2019, Chambers was captaining the 47-metre long super yacht Moatize when the engine became jammed and they were forced to crash into the Cairns Marina. This season, guess where his first docking is in the jankiest boat of all time? Cairns Marina. In the words of Chris Warner, anchor me. / AC 

Harry and Margot’s five-star drunken feast 

Look, we’ve all had the munchies after a heavy night on the turps, but Margot and Harry’s sweet drunken supper proves that not every memorable super yacht meal needs to be a five-star feast. Giant bowl of two-minute noodles? Don’t mind if I do. Plate of slightly charred broccoli? Down in one! A bit of everything else rolled up in ham, followed by a sneaky pash? Absolute chef’s kiss. / TW

CEO Culver returns

Keith Stone (aka Culver Bradbury) is back, baby 

Every now and then, a crew member bursts through the dross of bland, blonde 20-somethings and makes an indelible impression on your soul. Culver Bradbury is one such crew member. On paper, he’s a deckhand but, in reality, he’s the unofficial entertainment officer of every situation he’s in, which means you’ll frequently see him in a mullet wig and Dirty Dogs as his alter ego Keith Stone for guests. Did anyone ask for Keith Stone? No. Are we complaining? No. / AC

The disco helmet will never die

Captain Jason’s sparkly disco ball helmet has returned, and I can’t work out if it’s an honour or a shame to be awarded it as the crew member who stuffed up the most. The helmet might be a questionable way of motivating your staff, but also, where can us landlubbers find one of these gorgeous spangly bonnets for our own hapless noggins? Asking for a friend, of course. / TW

The format itself remains unbeatable 

I’ve said it once and I will say it again, if you want the perfect amalgamation of the best parts of all the best reality shows, then look no further than Below Deck Down Under. It’s got the high octane Hell’s Kitchen action in the chef’s galley, the nouveau riche aesthetics and drama of Real Housewives, the outdoor elements of Man vs Wild, the workplace drama and power dynamics of Undercover Boss and The Apprentice, the “coupling up” of Love Island and sometimes even the singing and dancing of X Factor. All that, plus the skeleton crew and tight living quarters make for a pretty bracing, personal and extremely authentic-feeling viewing experience. / AC 

Below Deck screens on Tuesday nights at 8.30pm on Bravo and streams on ThreeNow.


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