Why Isn’t Bravo Speaking Up About The Racism On Its Shows?

As a Bravo fan, I am no stranger to Bravolebrities occasionally fucking up. We’re all human, we all make mistakes, and in order for us to grow, we have to take accountability and want to do better. But what happens when there is a lack of accountability? When there’s silence from not only those who said the offensive remarks, but an overall lack of acknowledgment from those who employ said people? There seems to be a growing number of ignorant and offensive remarks being made across all Bravo shows, without any type of acknowledgement or condemnation from the network, and it’s a problem. 

Last week on Below Deck, Chief Stew Heather Chase was caught on camera repeating the N-word in front of Black castmate Rayna Lindsey. Chase, a white woman, apologized via Instagram, stating that she was “remorseful” and that she has now learned that her words and actions can affect others. Here’s my issue with this whole thing. Not only was the apology lackluster, not only was it months after the show was taped, but the network has refused to speak on the incident at all. This is the same network that immediately issued an apology after Kenya Moore wore a Native American costume during a Halloween party on RHOA, the same network that issued out statements that they do not condone violence during the whole RHOP Monique and Candiace fiasco, and most importantly, this is the same network that created content amplifying anti-racist practices in June 2020. 

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Mary Cosby of RHOSLC has made several ignorant remarks this season as well. She compared Mexican people to “people that make drugs” and said she appreciated fellow Housewife Jennie Nguyen’s “slanted eyes” and commented on her skin tone. Nothing but silence from the network, the same network that put out a rather apathetic statement in support of AAPI people in the wake of the ignorant comments Kameron Westcott and her family made about Dr. Tiffany Moon.

Ramona Singer of RHONY fame has spewed out offensive rhetoric over the years of her stint on the show, from stating during a Shabbat dinner on season 13 of RHONY that “Jewish people did not like her” and turning a conversation about medical racism toward Black women into a conversation about her, and her comments online saying “All Lives Matter” during the height of the BLM movement. Yet again, there was silence from the network. What was more concerning was the fact that there was not a reunion for RHONY where Ramona could be held accountable for her behavior. Instead, she was allowed to be on Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip and did press for the show as well. Was the network protecting her? Was there no reunion so that Ramona would be able to promote RHUGT? These aren’t just questions that I have, but questions other Bravo fans have too.

The message of accountability should be clear, concise, and apply to everyone. When Stassi, Kristen, Max, and Brett were fired last year, it seemed like a zero-tolerance policy of past racially insensitive remarks was enacted at the network. But there hasn’t seemed to be anything like that since, and there have been a number of racist incidents since then. If you don’t want to fire people for their remarks, then that’s fine. But, public accountability is what can eradicate most of these issues. Letting your viewers know that you understand why they might be offended and how you chose to move forward is key to creating a safe space for viewers. And it shouldn’t take a reunion special for these issues to be addressed. Waiting until a reunion is filmed to speak on these issues leads to viewers feeling more confused and angry about where you stand as a corporation about these incidents. 

When you let the ignorance manifest and don’t speak on it, it sends the message you truly do not care. I wonder if the network regretted the firings of the VPR cast members and instead of keeping that same energy for others who commit the same wrongdoings, they are choosing to stay silent and “feel out the waters” to see how viewers react to these incidents. That’s a bad call. If Bravo continues to be silent all of their previous anti-racist work will come across as extremely performative. Let’s do better, Bravo. 

Image: Charles Sykes / Bravo

WTF Is Happening On ‘Below Deck Med’?

If you’re a long-time viewer of Below Deck Med, then you’re no stranger to drama going down on a yacht. Over the past five seasons, we’ve seen firings, demotions, blowout fights, and too many crew hookups to count. But in the most recent episodes of season five, some particularly troubling events have transpired, and we need to talk about what the f*ck is happening on this boat.

On last Monday’s episode, we saw chef Kiko get fired after serving the grossest looking nachos I’ve ever seen to the charter guests. We all loved Kiko, but ultimately, he just wasn’t really up to the job. Unfortunately for chief stew Hannah, Kiko was her only true ally on the boat, and in the aftermath of his firing, she experienced a panic attack in the middle of the night. We saw her tell Malia that she needed a Valium, to which Malia responded, “isn’t that a prescription?” Malia also downplayed the attack, calling it a “freak out”, but the show moved right past this, Hannah started feeling better, and it seemed like the worst was over.

But in this week’s episode, the Valium resurfaced in a way that left the viewers with way more questions than answers. After Kiko’s departure, Malia’s boyfriend Tom came in at the last minute as the new chef. Because of this, Malia asked the rest of the crew to change cabins so that couples could be together: her and Tom, and Jess and Rob (not even gonna get into that bizarre relationship). These room switches left Hannah and Bugsy to room together, and neither was too keen on the idea. Hannah and Bugsy are known enemies from a few seasons ago, because Bugsy routinely outperforms Hannah even though she is a second stew and Hannah is Chief Stew. I mean, what’s she supposed to do, Bugsy just has such a knack for table decor!

Hannah and Bugsy discussed the possibility of rooming together, decided it’s a bad idea for them professionally, and Hannah was left to tell Malia. Malia responded by telling Hannah that it is boat protocol for couples to room together, and that it’s perfectly reasonable for everyone to switch rooms so that she can be with her BF.  (It should be said that in the post-episode Watch What Happens Live!, Malia admitted that this is more of an unwritten rule.) Hannah promptly turned off her radio and took a smoke break. After going to Captain Sandy about the disagreement, Malia got her way, and Sandy announced on the radio that Tom and Malia would be rooming together. Not great the captain had to get involved, but it seemed like this drama was over.

Or so we thought! At the end of the episode, an unnamed crewmember sent a photo of Hannah’s Valium pills, a CBD pen, and a lighter to Captain Sandy, with the shady text attached: “I’m sorry, but I have to report this.” It didn’t take a rocket scientist to guess that Malia was the one who reported Hannah, and this has been confirmed through many social media posts.

I like Malia’s arranging skills. So that’s prescribed Valium, CBD (which is legal in Spain), a lighter (not sure what this has to do with anything) and my passport holder… And for anyone who’s interested the prescription is on the other side of the box as shown… #belowdeckmed pic.twitter.com/9ZpMjVUWVu

— Hannah Ferrier (@hannahferrier_) August 11, 2020

Hannah has made it clear that she had a valid prescription for the Valium, but apparently that’s not the issue here. I’m no expert on maritime law, but according to Malia’s Instagram post attempting to explain the situation, the issue is that Hannah didn’t inform the captain and/or the charter company about her medication and its potential side-effects. Malia even posted a picture of the charter contract that the whole crew signs, highlighting the rules about medication.

View this post on Instagram

If you want to hate me- hate me, but know the FACTS. Here’s the policy straight from the contract. I never said you CANT have medications – you just have to follow proper procedures that are in place to protect ALL crew members. The Captain of the vessel has the right to know who might be taking what & when! They are operating a vessel at sea with everyone’s lives in their hands! You’ve already heard four crew members working on the same boat come forward about their struggles & need for medication- it is ESSENTIAL that as crew we are responsible in how we go about medicating. It’s a pretty straightforward policy set in place to protect us NOT to exclude anyone. As for illegal drugs- it doesn’t matter if they might be legal in whatever country we are in… we operate under the Flag State the boat is registered to which is zero tolerance. I apologize if I didn’t go about reporting or handling the situation to the best of my ability but it was also a HUGE learning curve for me. Please understand this is my career and I take the rules very seriously. If a crew member has an issue with their contract or the laws put into place to protect them- then they should address that before signing onboard. Also consider the sequence of events you witness on tv is the condensed version so the timeline might seem a bit dramatic! I’m not out to get anyone— I’m here to do my job. To all my crew- I’m happy everyone is sharing their stories and I hope this information helps you understand your contract as crew- you aren’t alone in your struggles which is precisely why we have these policies in place! ❤️⚓️ @bravotv @belowdeckbravo @captainsandrayawn #belowdeckmed #belowdeck #safetyfirst #responsibility

A post shared by Malia White (@maliakpwhite) on

The thing is, I don’t think anyone thinks Malia is lying about maritime law or the rules of yachting. But if Hannah taking Valium was such a grievous breach of protocol, why did Malia wait two full days after Hannah’s panic attack before bringing it up? Especially given their issues in the meantime, it’s hard not to see it as a petty move to get Hannah fired. If Malia truly felt like she needed to say something about Hannah’s medication, she could’ve brought it up directly to Hannah. Obviously Malia doesn’t love Hannah, but it would have been way more considerate to give Hannah the opportunity to handle the situation herself, rather than running to Captain Sandy and blindsiding her.

Additionally, the discussion of Hannah’s prescription anxiety medication as if she’s doing molly on board is really gross. It would literally never occur to me to refer to Valium as “drugs” or “narcotics,” and the use of this terminology by Malia and Sandy feels calculated to minimize Hannah’s mental health struggles and maximize reality TV drama. Anxiety is a serious and legitimate health concern, and regardless of what rules were broken, saying that “Hannah has drugs on board” is a flippant way of addressing the situation.

Judging from the preview for next week’s episode, it looks like Hannah’s firing is imminent, and maybe Captain Sandy had no choice. But the way the situation was handled has been beyond frustrating to watch, and it’s angering that, in 2020, we still can’t deal with mental health in a constructive way. I love Below Deck Med, but I can’t wait for this bullsh*t to be over.

Additional reporting by Dylan Hafer.

Images: Bravo; hannahferrier_ / Twitter; maliakpwhite / Instagram

‘If You Push Me Hard Enough I’m Gonna Get In Your Face’: ‘Below Deck’s Rhylee On Being Mouthy & More

If you’re not watching Below Deck this season, you’re missing out. And I say that as someone who used to watch and recap Below Deck and then stopped because it got boring. I don’t know what they did in casting this season, but they really got a great group of people. It’s seriously so dramatic. We caught up with Rhylee Gerber, one of the deckhands, to talk about her regrets, her relationships with her cast mates, and who’s the best kisser on the yacht. Read the interview below, and tune in to Below Deck on Bravo, Tuesdays at 9pm EST.

What did you expect coming into this show?
I really didn’t expect much. I mean, I was very excited about it because of the experience that I could gain with working on a yacht as well as traveling, and learning something different than what I’m used to. I mean, that’s really what I was thinking about.

How do you think that differed from what ended up happening?
I mean, if you throw cameras into the mix, and different personalities, there’s bound to be drama. I didn’t anticipate being the majority of the drama, but at the same time I can say that I was 100% me all the time. A lot of was highlighted on the show had to do with me not taking sh*t from everybody, and I kind of felt like I took a lot of sh*t. So I just didn’t lay down and take it, I stood up to it.

So do you agree with the way that you came across on camera, or do you feel like viewers didn’t get a fair portrayal?
Well, I mean, I’m not gonna sit there and blame anyone else. I’ve never blamed anyone else for my behavior. I do think that the dramatic personality traits in all of us were highlighted most because that’s what creates good TV. I had reasons to act the way I did, but I did get a little bit more heated than I probably should have.

Is there any fight that you regret?
I mean, obviously it would be in my best interest to have tried to get my point across in a less aggressive manner, but at the same time… not everything is shown in detail. Like, there were consistent jabs at me, or bickering, or laughing. I mean, I regret that I came across like an asshole, and like I was disrespectful, because I certainly do respect ranks. The issue I had with the ranks that I was dealing with was that they weren’t respectful to me. 

Speaking of assholes, have you heard from Chandler at all?
Actually, no. The last I saw Chandler was in LA, and we were all kind of getting along—we definitely weren’t arguing. He and I both had nice things to say to each other, but from there he kind of left a bad taste in my mouth because he skipped out on his portion of the dinner bill that I covered. So, I’m not in a good place with him.

Is there anyone from the show that you still talk to?
Yeah, we’ve all still kept in touch. What I have to face is seeing these people give their opinions behind my back when I watch the show, it’s different from what they say to my face. And I don’t know if it’s because they’re intimidated by me, or if it’s because that’s just the type of people they are, but it definitely makes it a little hard to trust and want to be friendly with them. Even though we are still in touch,  we’re always cordial with each other, after the things said… it makes it hard for me to want to be friendly with them when I do see them.

Yeah definitely, and even on social media, as we’re watching the episodes, people are still taking jabs at each other.
Yeah, I mean, that’s to be expected but if we’ve made up, you know, and I’ve spoke with Ross and Ashton in depth about this and we both were saying the same thing. When we would talk it was like, this is what happened in the past, and we’ve come over that, we’ve made our peace with it. So as the episode airs, I don’t know what we stand to gain from continuing to be assholes to one another. But at the same time, I feel like they’re very good at still doing that, and I can continue to be an asshole and take jabs at them, or I can embrace my portion of it, which is kind of what I’m trying to do, versus harboring more animosity.

So even though you had issues working with a couple of the deckhands, who was your favorite person to work with?
I obviously very much enjoyed working with Tyler because he brought a breath of fresh air when he came onto the boat. The dynamic between all of us changed. I think my favorite person overall to work with on the boat probably would’ve been Josiah, because he’s kind of easygoing and placating to people’s feelings when you’re one on one.

Who was your favorite bosun to work under?
Oh, for sure Ross. My verdict about Ross is still a little wishy-washy, because I do think from the get-go Ross was the best person for the bosun position. our issues with each other lying and communication still, which is a big thing we have with Chandler. Granted, he’s a much better communicator than Chandler ever was, but Ross had an issue with telling me one thing and meaning something else, so that caused a lot of aggravation and frustration on my end. But I do think that Ross was the better bosun, hands down. I think that he tries to appease everybody, and deep down he’s a good person.

So, who was a better kisser, Ross or Tyler?
Well, I mean, every time Ross came for me he was drunk, and I was of course drinking too, so I’m going to say Tyler because I got to experience that a little bit more.

What’s it like working for Captain Lee?
You know, I didn’t really get to interact with Captain Lee a lot while we were working. I mean, there was never a time that I went to the wheelhouse unless we were called there. I never went to Captain Lee to complain about anything, and then it’s hard to say how I feel about him in a working environment because I didn’t really get to work with him. Is he my favorite captain to work with? So far on a yacht he’s the only captain I’ve ever worked for, so he’s my favorite and my least favorite.

Favorite out of one, fair enough. So on the episode that I just watched we got a new stew. What do you think of Laura so far?
Um, when Laura came on the boat we all thought she was—well everybody but Ashton, I guess—we thought she was pretty ditzy just because of how she spoke, and some of the things she would say. But you know, it’s a very nerve-racking situation to come in the middle of a charter season, and then go into this group of people that have already worked together and then be as level-headed or as chill as someone like Tyler would’ve been. You know, Laura’s a good chick, and she’s coming in with a very boss-like chick i.e. Kate, and…  I think she has a lot to say and it came across rough, but I can understand her position with that because I went through the same thing.

Do you think you would do another season?
Oh, well yeah, my only thought on that is I would love to do another season, on a yacht chartering anywhere. My fear is that I’d still probably be just as mouthy, but hopefully I’m learning more from my experience. I would hope for a better received outcome, perhaps, but the one thing I can promise everybody is I will always be myself. So if you push me enough I’m gonna get in your face about it.

I mean, that’s all we want from reality TV.
Right? It just makes for good TV, and fortunately I don’t have to act.

So if you could fire anyone on the show right now, who would you pick?
From a professional standpoint or from an “I’m pissed off with them” standpoint?

Let’s do both.
Okay so a professional standpoint I guess I would say Laura, because people say she and I both have an attitude and we’re disrespecting our superiors, but I’m also still doing my job and I’m doing it well. The episode showed—and again, I’m only seeing it from what we saw—but it showed that she wasn’t doing the job. So, from a professional standpoint, you want someone there that’s working and doing what they’re there to be doing, which is their job.

From a personal standpoint, I would have to say at this point Ashton. And this is during the season and now. During the season he consistently was frustrated with me—even when I didn’t speak to him or to anybody, he just had a problem with me. I don’t know if it stemmed from him thinking I was happy to see Chandler go, or because I asked too many questions, or because I turned him down for sex. I mean, he just was always frustrated with me, so I do think Ashton does well at his job, but personally I think he helped create a lot of animosity and trigger my anger.

Do you think that you being a woman has anything to do with why people think you’re being aggressive or that you’re not getting along as well with your male coworkers?
I appreciate that question, but it’s only been in this particular situation in my life that I’ve ever had to think about the woman part, because never in my life did I grow up feeling like I can’t do anything because I’m a woman, or people are holding me back because I’m a woman. I’ve never felt like that. I do understand like, men have certain physical strengths that women don’t have. But in this particular case, it’s so baffling to me to think that… even when Tyler came on as third deckhand, I wasn’t put in positions to help with anchor, or help with anything that was “muscle work.” And so part of me thinks like, maybe that was because I am a woman, or because they were frustrated with me. But either way, people are like, “oh respect your rank.” Well, my rank doesn’t respect me as a woman or as a third deckhand, so it’s kind of like, I don’t know. I have no idea if it’s the woman part or if it’s the overall irritation with personalities conflicting. I’m no feminist by any means, but I am seeing what people are saying on both sides I guess, if that makes any sense.

It does. So what are you up to in the offseason?
Ok, so after Tahiti I of course did my season in Alaska. I love just being there, I love running the charters with different clients and meeting new people. Right now I’m doing the same thing but I’m in Key West because our Alaska season’s only May through September. So, I mean I usually just travel from gig to gig and find whatever interests and excites me.

Anything else you want to tell the Betches readers?
I mean, I would say to people that have such a strong opinion about anybody on the show, remember that it is a show. I just want people to know, this is a drama series, so they’re highlighting the dramatic portions of what makes a good TV episode. And just remember like, you guys weren’t there for the whole thing of it, you know? I am a person, I can get heated just like anybody else, and I can be nice as well. I’m usually more smiley Rhylee than I am mad Rhylee.

Catch Rhylee and the rest of the crew on Below Deck, Tuesdays at 9pm on Bravo.