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‘Below Deck’ Sails Into a New Era

Starting a new season of “Below Deck” can be similar to returning to summer camp as a kid — you know it’s going to be fun and that you’ll be in the same environment, but some of the people will be different and you’re not quite sure what the vibes will be.

This time around, in particular, feels that way because for the first time in the show’s 11-season run, Captain Lee Rosbach is no longer at the helm. It’s a pivotal moment for a franchise that has become one of the most popular entities in the sprawling universe of reality TV since premiering on Bravo in 2013. The show’s appeal was built on endless romances between various crew members (“boatmances,” as they came to be known), horrible charter guests and some sort of passive-aggressive fight about how many shackles of the anchor chain should be in the water. And there was always Rosbach presiding over the drama as he trudged around the boat, reeling off one liners like “I’m madder than a pissed-on chicken” and “we screwed the pooch so many times we should have a litter of puppies running around.”

At the center of the show now is Kerry Titheradge (the stern yet goofy captain of “Below Deck Adventure” fame), who is managing the Motor Yacht Saint David with the cheeky chief stew Fraser Olender by his side.

With that change in captain, the energy on the boat — both onscreen and off — is different, according to Olender.

“I feel like Kerry this season, as opposed to Lee, has a no B.S. attitude, which I love with him,” Olender said in an interview. “With Kerry, he taught me a lot and sort of forced to me confront issues directly with my team, work them out, as opposed to making executive decisions too soon.”

This shift in management style changes the central conflict — whereas the drama once focused on the captain swiftly kicking out any unpleasant crew member (as we might have seen with Rosbach), the drama now focuses on the whole crew trying to get along (since Titheradge gives people those second chances).

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