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.
During Below Deck Mediterranean’s seven season run, it’s had four chief stews.
Hannah Ferrier was enjoyable, albeit polarizing, during her five seasons. The opinionated interior leader was good at her job, but tended to pit stews against each other, had a boatmance with a bosun that flamed out (it always does), possibly had sex with a guest, and got fired for having undeclared anxiety medication onboard. Hannah has done well since. She’s gotten married, had a baby, and will soon be one of the stars of The Real Love Boat, a CBS dating series hosted by Jerry O’Connell and Rebecca Romijn.
After Hannah was fired midway through Season 5, Bugsy Drake took her place (great at tablescapes but otherwise uninteresting), and then Katie Flood (yawn) was in for Season 6. Katie was solid and liked by her crewmates but wasn’t brought back for Season 7, which brings us to current chief stew, Natasha Webb.
Peppy, friendly, and eager, in the initial episodes of Season 7 it looked like Below Deck Mediterranean had finally found a long term replacement for Hannah. That might not sound like a big deal considering all the drama that surrounded Ferrier, but this franchise has always been driven by three lead roles: the captain, the bosun, and the chief stew.
If those three positions are solid, you can count on an excellent Below Deck season no matter who makes up the rest of the crew. Hannah’s departure left a hole in that triumvirate, one that Captain Sandy and Bosun Malia couldn’t fill. A solid chief stew, one that was a leader and brought just enough drama that wouldn’t get them in trouble, would help Med regain some of the interest lost after Daisy (a chief stew) and Gary (a Bosun) from Below Deck Sailing Yacht starting making that series the franchise’s most interesting show.
Below Deck Mediterranean needed a win at the chief stew position, but halfway through Season 7, Natasha seems to be an anchor and not a sail. The red flags were visible early on in the season.
Natasha, who as chief stew makes the crew cabin assignments, assigned herself and chef Dave White to share a cabin. A male and female sharing a cabin is almost unheard of in the Below Deck universe, but since they’re both department heads, they were allowed to do it even though everyone in the crew was already whispering. After all, they were “friends” who just served together on their last boat. Could there be more to their relationship? Well, yes, duh.
Eventually Dave, clearly smitten with Natasha, spills the beans on their secret affair during a night out with the crew. In fact, she was cheating with him for a month while she still had a boyfriend. The wheels start to fall off from here.
Natasha doesn’t like that their scandalous behavior is exposed, Dave starts to melt down like a snowman who mistakenly booked a tropical vacation, and Captain Sandy even has to intervene to make sure the two can still work together or decide if she needs a new chef, chief stew, or both. At this point, both parties are equally to blame, but it’s what happens next that makes Natasha problematic for the Below Deck franchise.
After Natasha and Dave break up and switch to different cabins, she decides that maybe she DOES still love her ex-boyfriend. You know, the one she was cheating on with Dave. Amazingly, the ex is still game and the two reconcile. Next thing you know, they’re texting constantly and her job is completely neglected with bad decisions galore, with last week’s episode offering plenty of evidence.
Natasha forces Dave to change his dinner plans because SHE wanted to do a wine pairing. She doesn’t check Kyle for acting inappropriately with a group of guests. At one point in the episode, Kyle spends hours on a couch in pajamas chatting with guests he’s bonded with, and then Natasha joins him. This leaves a ton of work for morning stew Natalya.
But the worst thing Natasha does is tell Dave she’s back with her ex-boyfriend. Why would you do that?!? Especially when you still work together?!? It’s either a cruel move, an unintelligent decision, or perhaps a bit of both. Either way, it makes for a chief stew you don’t want to watch, which is the opposite of what Below Deck Mediterranean was hoping for.
“People think I’m sweet and innocent, but really I try to get away with murder,” says Natasha in a one-on-one in last week’s episode. That quote makes for a perfect encapsulation of her character on the show so far this season.
Below Deck Mediterranean airs Mondays on Bravo.
5 Reality Shows to Watch This Week
1. Below Deck Mediterranean (Bravo, September 12)
Why you should watch it: Storm adjusts to his new role as Bosun (I’m starting to like him more than Malia), Natalya vents her frustrations about her chief stew (See! I told ya!), the guests enjoy a 70’s style party, and Natasha shocks the guests. What more can she possibly do wrong? Tune in to find out.
2. Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli (ESPN2, September 12)
Why you should watch it: I usually avoid putting sports on here but it’s the return of the Manningcast, and I love it. Russell Wilson returns to Seattle wearing a different uniform, the Manning brothers are superb and always funny, and it should be a good game. That and it’s the first time my beloved Denver Broncos have been featured, so I’m recommending it.
3. Welcome to Wrexham (FX, September 14)
Why you should watch it: I cannot sing the praises of this show highly enough. It’s smart, funny, and endlessly entertaining. Which is about as complimentary a thing I can say about a reality show about a minor league soccer team in Wales.
4. The Great British Baking Show (Netflix, September 16)
Why you should watch it: It has baking and middle aged British people. What more could you ask for? I’m serious. I’m a middle aged guy born in Britain. Should I start baking?
5. Love Is Blind: After the Altar (Netlflix, September 16)
Why you should watch it: I already watched the first of the three, 45 minute episodes that make up the capstone for this latest Love is Blind season. Loved. It. Going to be devouring the next two episodes this week and writing about it for next week’s RAF column. So much to discuss.
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.
For all the latest TV news, reviews, lists and features, follow @Paste_TV.