There’s been a shift in the Summer House. After nine episodes largely centered on the drama between Hannah Berner, Luke Gulbranson and Ciara Miller, everything came to an explosive head in last week’s fight between the guys and the immediate fallout. After crying it out over family dinner, the Good Vibe Tribe has closed the book on that drama. And it definitely feels like we’ve entered the back half of the season with a fresh start and a clean slate. No Instagram psychics allowed.
It’s also the perfect time to add some new personalities to the mix. After weeks in quarantine, we’re livening things up and breaking the “no outsiders” rule with the arrival of the boyfriends. Because if Stephen Traversie can come and go (and still not get a confessional), why not have a more open door policy? So let’s just bring in literally every single male love interest we can find from outside the house, shall we? Well, not every one…poor Paige DeSorbo. But we’ll get to that in a second.
Welcome back to Below Deck Sailing Yacht, where Barrie Drewitt-Barlow and his family have permanently taken over Parsifal. At least that’s what it feels like, considering this is the third week in a row we’ve been subjected to them on our screens. This family is never leaving the boat. They’ve complained about hollandaise sauce. The kids have competed for Louis Vuitton shoes. Last week’s episode ended with the male crew members in drag. All caught up? Good. Because we have one more episode of the twisted Brady Bunch to get through…
Bright and early the morning after the drag dinner, it’s day three of the charter. Or four. Or six. Or sixteen. Honestly, don’t ask me, I’ve completely lost track. All I know is this is the charter that never ends and this family needs to get off the boat. It’s also Barrie’s ex-husband’s birthday, so a full afternoon of water sports are in order. But not until after a breakfast of beans on toast for everyone! That’s something Natasha De Bourg can do better than poaching an egg. What she still can’t do, it seems, is deliver what she promises to the guests. This time being a cotton candy machine for the birthday dinner. The chef takes all of ten minutes trying to make candy floss, as she calls it, before calling it quits and walking away. No cotton candy for you, Tony!
Last week’s Summer House ended on a tense cliffhanger, to say the least. Luke Gulbranson was screaming from the lobby. Carl Radke was ready to throw down in his underwear. Kyle Cooke was being physically restrained by Lindsay Hubbard. Everyone was involved in the fight. Well except, Paige DeSorbo and Hannah Berner, who stood speechless at the top of the stairs watching the chaos play out. It was easily the most intense moment in the show’s history.
So how does it end? With a bang and a fizzle, essentially. After all that anticipation, it turns out the build-up was the climax. No punches were thrown. No fighting happened at all, really. Carl went back to bed, shaken up and fuming. And Luke turned on his heel and left the house, staying in a hotel after being escorted by producers to get an overnight bag from his room. It was all a giant unleashing of tension and emotion with thankfully no physical violence.
Note to anyone reading this recap: if you ever go on a luxury sailing vacation, do not act like Barrie Drewitt-Barlow. Better yet, don’t do it on any vacation ever. The Below Deck universe is certainly no stranger to difficult guests. They all tend to be—at turns—finicky, entitled, pretentious and snobbish. That’s part of why they’re charting a private mega-yacht on a reality TV show. But on a scale of entertaining to impossible, Barrie is on a level all his own. Is he the most critical, demanding guest in Below Deck Sailing Yacht history?
Also, remember how last week I said the tangled web between Barrie, his daughter Saffron and her ex-boyfriend/his current boyfriend Scott couldn’t possibly get any more, ahem, complicated? I lied. I did some casual online sleuthing. And a quick perusal of the internet revealed that Barrie and Scott welcomed a baby girl via surrogate just one month after this vacation to Croatia. Her name is Valentina Willow Drewitt-Barlow. According to the article I found, she was born in September 2020. Which makes Saffron’s ex-boyfriend not only her dad’s partner, but also the father of her new half-sister.
A few weeks ago, I was criticized for characterizing an argument between Hannah Berner, Kyle Cooke and Amanda Batula as a “knockdown, drag out fight.” And sure, while a wine glass was thrown, maybe I was being a tad hyperbolic at the time. Or perhaps I was just a few episodes early. Because the end of this week’s Summer House certainly crescendoed into an all-out brawl between the house’s trio of alpha males. A pub crawl hasn’t ended this explosively in the history of Bravo since the Real Housewives of Orange County got kicked out of an Irish department store back in 2016. But let’s rewind and back up a bit.
It all started the night before, when the roommates separated along gender lines for their annual Guys’/Girls’ Night. And yes, I understand the ritual’s become something of a tradition in the Summer House over the last few seasons. But it’s one of the very rare times the show really doesn’t do it for me. It’s a totally subjective personal thing, but I’m just resistant to the whole idea of antiquated gender roles in general. And I hate seeing the guys devolve into drunken neanderthals in the name of toxic masculinity. Shouldn’t the boys be above chugging Guinness and sinking to the crudities of locker room talk by now? Trust me, a little spa night never hurt anyone. So somebody get Carl Radke a unicorn face mask, STAT! And put Kyle in a fluffy robe while you’re at it…
If last week’s episode of Below Deck Sailing Yacht was a reminder of how easily the threat of a global pandemic can burst the bubble of a luxury sailing vacation, this week was the aftermath. And it turned out to be a bit of a pump-fake if I’m being honest. The action picks up immediately following the guests leaving the boat. Parsifal is docked and the high maintenance foursome are being quarantined in a nearby hotel. As the minutes tick by waiting for the COVID test results, the crew has nothing to do but sit around and wait. Will the charter be cancelled? Will the entire season? Is this the end?
It’s not. After a tense two-and-a-half hour wait, the medical officer calls with news. All the guests have tested negative. But there’s a twist. Since one guest is still symptomatic, the doctors are recommending they don’t return to the boat. Which means no coronavirus, but the charter is still over. Which is a huge disappointment, considering they hadn’t even made it 24 hours into the charter. But at least the season’s not over? So there’s not much anyone can do besides breathe a sigh of relief and pack up everything the guests left on the boat.
Psychics have a long and storied history on Bravo. They puff on e-cigs while fueling dinner parties from hell. They stir the pot in elephant rooms. And they’ve even been known to kickstart the uncovering of a cancer scam. Psychics do the Lord’s work on Bravo. And usually it’s pretty easy to go along with them. Especially when, like in the case of the fake cancer, they happen to be correct. But this particular episode of Summer House is requiring a suspension of disbelief heretofore not required in the Bravoverse.
I mean, what happened this week was a little different. The said psychic was completely off-camera, providing a storyline for the house free of charge. We don’t know their identity. Just that they apparently operate through Instagram. It’s not as simple or straightforward as, “He will never emotionally fulfill you, ever. Know that.” It was a lot to take in and I’m not sure how much I’m buying it. But I’m, as always, getting ahead of myself.
Well, well, well. There’s nothing like a coronavirus scare to ruin all the fun. And just when we were getting started, too. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the Below Deck Sailing Yacht crew learns this week as they get underway on their second charter of the season. That’s right. We only made it through a single charter before the harsh realities of a post-pandemic world came crashing through the self-contained bubble of safety created by production. To remind us that, no, despite the debauchery and relaxation you’re seeing on screen, life hasn’t gone back to normal. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
First we need to talk about Gary King and Sydney Zaruba‘s (extremely ill-advised) one-night stand. Or more like their walk of shame after spending the night together in a guest cabin. I mean, really. Is there a dumber decision than hooking up with your boss/employee on your very first night off? It’s been like three days, man! And frankly, while they were certainly both consenting adults, the brunt of that unequal power dynamic lies squarely on Gary as first officer.