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.

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.

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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

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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

Is It Safe To Take A Train, Flight, Or Road Trip? What You Need To Know

Your European vacation is canceled and your shoe-box sized apartment is sitting at an unbearable temperature of 105°. If you’re one of the lucky ones who still has a job, Mondays are basically indistinguishable from the weekend and your vacation days feel pretty much useless. At least we’ve made it to summer, and halfway through this dreadful year.

The CDC still advises against travel, and the best way to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19 is to stay home and limit your interactions with other people. However, being around people—particularly in enclosed spaces—is what spreads coronavirus, not the actual act of traveling. This means that there are still ways to take a vacation and plan ahead to ensure you stay as safe as possible this summer. As every company’s email newsletter informed us back in March, these are unprecedented times. So take precautions when allowing yourself to decompress, safely take a vacation, and try to dull the pain of 2020 with tequila sodas.

Travel, But Make It Local

Travel, both internationally and domestically, has obviously taken a serious hit due to the pandemic, with a low point on April 14th of only 87,000 fliers, according to the TSA. Since then we’ve seen a gradual increase in travel both in the air and on the ground as states rushed to open. Memorial Day weekend seemed to be the turning point when everyone just thought we could forget about the pandemic and get on with our lives, with a 48.5 percent increase in road travel compared to the previous weekend. Unfortunately, this jump and people’s general unwillingness to socially distance resulted in a huge spike in coronavirus cases. Anddd this is why we can’t have nice things.

The moral of the story: don’t be that guy! If you’re going to travel this summer, now is the time to keep your group exclusive and spend your money on fancy sh*t rather than just flocking to the hottest vacation spot (or literal COVID hot spot). Forgo the crowded Lake of the Ozarks pool party and show off your bikini body via Instagram from a private pool in an Airbnb instead. Skip the long flight and treat yourself to summer loungewear or dinner on a socially distant street-side patio. We’re always talking about how we want to be where the people aren’t, so let’s take advantage of this opportunity and built-in excuse for getting out of plans.

It also helps to limit your groups, wear a mask when social distancing isn’t possible, and avoid peak travel times. Before booking and going on a trip, be sure to monitor the number of cases in the area you are visiting, follow travel recommendations, and definitely don’t ignore some states’ 14-day quarantine mandates and get arrested.

“Help Me, I’m Poor,” -The Airline Industry, Probably

 

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While your pink Away luggage set collects dust, your preferred airline has gone into a tailspin and the remainder of 2020 is looking increasingly bleak for the industry. American Airlines may furlough 20,000 employees starting October 1st when the federal bailout expires. United said they could lose 36,000 jobs in the fall. That said, should you be rushing to give them your money? While before, you would probably book flights based on what was cheapest, now you might want to choose your airline carefully. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, airlines have claimed to be doing all they can to prevent the spread of coronavirus. However, as the economic pressures loom and lockdowns are lifted, there has been a gradual abandonment of precautions. Flights have become increasingly full, and airlines like American are booking back at full capacity. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) called his jam-packed connecting flight to Texas  “incredibly irresponsible” and “high-risk.” Meanwhile, airlines are not prioritizing cleaning, according to a recent Association of Flight Attendants survey where only 44 percent of flight attendants said their planes were thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between flights. A worker from American Airlines’ evening shift also stated that she and a few colleagues had only ten minutes to clean some incoming flights before they had to board more passengers. Considering I spend double that amount of time just on my nighttime skin care routine, I don’t think ten minutes is enough time to sanitize a whole plane’s armrests and tray tables.

As we know from collecting air miles (remember those?), not all airlines are created equally. Delta will continue to not sell middle seats through the summer, and United will allow you to switch to a different flight if the one you are booked on becomes too full. While most airlines have policies advising all passengers to wear masks during flights, some airlines (you can guess which one) are not enforcing them.

Not Feelin’ Fly Like A G6

Air travel is risky due to the increased time around large numbers of people in enclosed spaces, but if you must travel by plane, be sure to take the necessary precautions. Take the time to disinfect your seat, area, and hands, and opt for shorter flights without layovers to help reduce your exposure. Dr. Farley Cleghorn tells National Geographic, “Choose a window seat as far from the restroom as possible. Keep the overhead vent open and toward your face—continuous airflow creates a small, invisible ‘wall’ that restricts (at least slightly) the exhaled air from other passengers.”

If international travel is essential for you, be aware that some airlines are prioritizing business class seats, which currently can cost as much as some people’s annual salary. While on July 10th American Airlines told flight attendants that “for now, it’s OK for customers to move to different seats in the same cabin,” that policy isn’t always the case. For one couple trying to get home to Australia from the U.S., their only option might be a $24,000 USD business class ticket. Somewhere out there an out-of-touch, super-rich person (Ivanka, is that you?) who only flies private thinks that must be the normal cost of a seat in economy…must be nice.

Trains: Bad And Bougie, Or Just Bad?

Trains can conjure two types of imagery: relaxing on a humming passenger train in comfortable seats like you’re on your way to Hogwarts, or being shoulder-to-shoulder on the subway with a guy who smells as you try to drown out someone’s argument with a podcast on your daily commute. 

Doesn’t the first option of train travel just feel so European? While you may just be chugging upstate, it feels like you could be making your way through the Italian countryside. Even though European travel is off the table this summer, trains remain a safer option during coronavirus. Amtrak offers flexible bookings, limited seats for sale, and even private rooms. If your train travel is a little less “martinis in the lounge carriage” and more “essential commute on the L in Chicago at 6am”, you definitely deserve a vacation. Even though cities like New York have gone to great lengths to clean and sanitize their subway systems, transit employees have been heavily impacted by coronavirus with many deaths in the early stages of lockdown. Regardless of the type of train you’re taking, be sure to stay six feet apart when possible and wear a mask.

Roadtrip > Eurotrip

 

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Ok, fine, an Aperol Spritz in Positano is probably better than Bud Lights from a cooler by a murky lake, but traveling by car is likely the safest way to vacation this summer. It allows the least contact with other people and the most control of your surroundings, plus gas is at record low prices. If you’ve ever dreamed of being Britney Spears in Crossroads and driving down the highway in a convertible with your besties, now is the time!

“Traveling by airplane is much higher risk than traveling by car with your family,” Carl Fichtenbaum, an epidemiologist with the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and Infectious Diseases, tells CNBC. If you don’t own a car, renting one is fairly easy, or upgrade to a camper van and convince your boyfriend that you are the next Caelynn and Dean, without having to meet on Bachelor in Paradise. Once you rent the vehicle, clean and sanitize it, then download Britney’s full discography for when there’s no cell service. (That last part is just a personal recommendation, not the CDC’s.)

Before you leave, pack a COVID tool kit with hand sanitizer, masks, and wipes. While on your journey, try to limit interacting with others as much as possible: bring your own snacks to avoid going into convenience stores, pay at the pump rather than inside, and limit your number of stops—particularly in public bathrooms, as they can be cramped, and flushing a toilet can stir up aerosol particles. (If we weren’t germaphobes before this pandemic, I’m pretty sure we are now.) Once you’ve completed your road trip checklist, you’re ready to hit the open road like a suburban family in a minivan.

Drinks Well Alone

2020 is certainly a wild ride, and America continues to be the world’s Florida. We won’t be getting drunk in the airport lounge this summer, and Maine is the new Greek Islands, but at least the panhandle state stays consistently wild. Plus, on the bright side, you can delay buying another millennial pink bridesmaid dress for your cousin’s destination wedding for at least a year.

With things looking so depressing, it’s definitely time to salvage what’s left of summer 2020 and book a vacation or even a long-term stay to take advantage of working remotely. Being safe doesn’t mean you have to stay in your apartment alone, but it does mean you have to take precautions and limit your interactions with groups of people. And remember, drinking alcohol doesn’t act as an internal sanitizer, but multiple White Claws can help you forget the terrible Zoom dates you went on in April and make summer feel a bit more normal.  

Images: Anna Shvets / Pexels

What Your Favorite ‘Baby-Sitters Club’ Character Says About You

Over the weekend, whether you were too afraid to rejoin society after lockdown or you were forced back into lockdown because people went HAM and your city saw a resurgence of Covid cases, chances are you might’ve come across the new Baby-Sitters Club series on Netflix Family. Though the series was originally intended for a children’s audience, millennials and xennials on my Twitter and IG feeds have also found themselves binging the show. This wholesome content is exactly the nostalgia we’ve all been longing for in a difficult year, and if you haven’t watched it yet, do yourself a favor and head to Netflix.

So what better way to continue that comforting break from reality than to celebrate the iconic series and its characters by asking yourself the simple question of “What does your favorite Baby-Sitters Club character say about you?” None.

Kristy

Did somebody order a control freak? Kristys (Kristies?) are currently stewing over the fact that their 2020 planner has barely seen any action and spend their days in quarantine crafting the perfect itinerary for working from home. You’re not the best with change, but that’s mostly because things don’t sit well with you if you’re not able to run the show and be in complete control. That being said, you are a natural leader and you do your best to lead with love. Your friends are your people and you always show up for them. Like the Mom of the group, you’re reliable and when people need something done you’re the one they have on speed dial.

Claudia

Claudias are the fiercest, most artistic of the bunch. Never afraid to speak your mind, people naturally flock to your confident attitude and effortless style. You will definitely be voted mostly likely to have a future as an #influencer with a roster of Pinterest-worthy DIYs and sustainable capsule collections. Family means everything to you, though it can be frustrating when your family isn’t as open to your free spirit as your friends and fans. You’re a considerate friend who always has a purse full of snacks, encourages others to explore their creativity, and your attention to detail in your art and for the people you care about never goes unnoticed.

Stacey

Ahhh boy-crazy Stacey. On the outside, you give off the vibes of a Real Housewife in the making, when deep down you’re still just trying to figure yourself out (admittedly, most of the Housewives are too). While you worry a ton about what others may think, you try your best to not let your insecurities get the best of you. In reality, all you’re trying to do is find genuine connections in this world, and that goes for friends, romance, and family. You sometimes struggle with living up to your parents’ ridiculous expectations, but you know that at the end of the day they’ve got your back. So keep reminding yourself of that and surrounding yourself with friends and boos who do too.

Mary Anne

 

Mary Annes are either a future therapist’s dream or have a successful future as a therapist. Never one to rock the boat, you’re always listening and taking in everyone else’s energy. By nature you’re a people pleaser, though one should never mistake your kindness for weakness. You’re still learning to find your voice and develop independence from who you think you should be for everyone else and who you actually want to be. And while you’re still evolving your personality and style, you never discount the value of a solid pair of overalls and you can always be counted on to be there for your friends with an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on.

Dawn

A spiritual goddess, Dawns are optimistic and always look at the glass as half-full—even when the cards they’ve been dealt haven’t always been the best hand. You might have been forced to grow up quickly and play the role of caregiver or authority in your family. And instead of feeling sorry for yourself, you lean into those skills and excel with purpose. Whether it’s educating yourself and taking your efforts beyond performative allyship or leading a guided meditation to calm everyone’s nerves, you are not only happy to be a part of the group but truly want everyone to see just how wonderful and badass they can be in their own right too.

Karen

An honorable mention for Kristy’s soon-to-be step-sister Karen because let’s face it, it’s been a tough year for Karens. Whether we admit it or not, every single friend group has a Karen. Karens can be dramatic and have a tendency to overreact when really all they are is starved for attention. They genuinely believe they mean well, though it often comes out in problematic and extreme ways, like idk, running away at camp or fearmongering over conspiracy theories. And while Karens still admittedly have room to grow and mature, one thing is for sure—if they like you they’ll defend you to the extreme and you’ll always get that impossible restaurant reservation even if you’re just walking in.

Images: Jesse Austin (5), Kailey Schwerman/Netflix; Giphy