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'Below Deck' Reunion: Why is Andy Cohen Stumping for Ashton Over His Abuse of Kate Chastain?

By Kate Hudson | TV | February 11, 2020 |

By Kate Hudson | TV | February 11, 2020 |


Shit show. That would be the term I use to describe the seventh season of Below Deck—and part 1 of the reunion is no different.


Because Andy Cohen is f*cking stumping for Ashton and the brus instead of releasing the hounds and letting the ladies of the Interior Department, and Rhylee, jump all over him (save for Simone, who clearly has her own issues with Chief Stew Kate Chastain that are not based in anything resembling professional complaints.) I feel like an inordinate amount of time in this ep was spent on Kate’s behavior and asking her to justify it, which…let’s check—she had a 2nd Stew who didn’t know how to open a f*cking wine bottle so she promoted the 3rd Stew, who could open a wine bottle and who knew how to make an iced coffee in front of the 2nd Stew; and she sent Kevin up with a penis cake for the guests after the primary had gone to bed, a penis cake that the primary had requested if you recall. That’s it.

Now, let’s talk about a fraction of the f*ckery that Kate had to deal with this season—Ashton assaulting her and losing his shit in the car, drunk out of his mind; constantly being undermined by Kevin the dipshit chef (who also assaulted her by kicking sand in her face intentionally) who wouldn’t let her use his massive fridge for storage, but who felt entitled to use her interior whenever he pleased; constant lewd remarks about her made amongst the brus that she was privy to; an asshole deckhand who was a dick to one of her staff, which caused Kate to have to manage her team more; and an overall hostile work environment that she had very little to do with.

…and yet? Sure, let’s have every f*cking knucklehead get their shots in, and have Andy ask probing questions. Leslie Jones, who got me into this show in the first place with her live Tweeting, sums it up best, here:

Kate handled herself like a champ, and here’s what I love about her—Kate clearly does not like the brus of the show, and yet she is very even-keeled in her assessment of their behavior and even threw Kevin, of all people, a lifeline a few times while he was trying to verbal vomit his way out of the amount of shit he talked about Kate on the show (and without having to reckon with the fact he kicked sand in her face. F*ck you Andy for not bringing that up, it better be front and center in the next episode.)

Here’s the thing, I don’t believe for a second that Kate is some kind of zen master where this shit rolls off her back, because frankly, those assholes would have made even the most forgiving and tolerant person snap. Kate is smart, though. She clearly understands that she’s on television—and losing her shit may feel good in the moment but it could be damaging in the long run. Especially, as she pointed out, if you have a strong reaction as a woman you get called a bitch. So she opts to take the high road, always, because it makes her look good and it makes the brus look even worse. This woman have a level of self-control that is truly beautiful to behold, and the cunning to wield it in a way that all but guarantees she comes out ahead. I love it, and more to the point, I love to watch her maintain it, even when the brus are being garbage monsters, like in this episode.

The flip side to Kate’s mastery of self-control is Rhylee’s empty cup of f*cks to give that ran out of refills years ago. Rhylee came to this reunion with a sole purpose—to make the brus look as bad as possible, and she did not disappoint. Whether it was pointing out that Ashton isn’t really working on a yacht right now (although Andy of course, stumped for him. Could that be related to Ashton weakly threatening to sue for defamation of character at one point in this ep? Hmmmm…) or talking shit about Tanner’s mom, who took to a facebook group to complain about Captain Lee’s treatment of her poor f*ckboi of a son, or pointing out that Ashton was atrocious to her at every opportunity. Rhylee was the agent of chaos this reunion show needed because clearly Andy Cohen wasn’t going to push the brus on their shitty, shitty behavior.

The sleeper agent of this whole shit show was surprisingly Courtney, though—who laid out Brian the bru so handily and thoroughly that I’m surprised there was anything of him left. I know you were as shocked as I was that their relationship did not continue off the boat and I’m sure you were all flabbergasted that Courtney had to end up blocking Brian from contacting her, because he was so angry about what she said on the show and on social media once she saw how truly awful, degrading and misogynistic the brus were. Courtney had the best line of the entire night “I’m not going to co-sign your behavior by being silent about it.” Hell yes, Courtney—Abbi, take note. Your shitty answer that was akin to “well, they never did it to me, and I never saw it happen” was shit, because it was clearly on display on the show, and presumably you’ve seen that, yet you chose to co-sign the behavior by keeping silent. Gross. Courtney, come back for season 8, the producers of this nightmare owe you a do-over.

Finally, we have to show some love for Captain Lee, who doesn’t hang Kate out to dry, ever. Those two clearly have a real bond, and I very much respect that he doesn’t throw her under the bus, unlike how every other crap head with a “Y” chromosome did on the reunion. He also knows she can handle herself, and doesn’t jump in unnecessarily because we all know Kate is a boss.

If you have any doubt what being a part of this shit show did to the women of this show, they’ve been talking about it pretty freely on Twitter:

I should point out that I did my best to find a good screen-shot of this episode to use as the header, but it was nearly impossible to do because you can tell that all the women (and I’d be damned if I used a picture of the dudes) look so completely miserable at all times. I don’t blame them, they were forced to be in the company of men who gleefully demeaned them for an entire season of a franchise that Kate (and Captain Lee) built.

I hated this season and I hate that Andy Cohen denied us the catharsis of watching the brus get their asses handed to them by everyone they did dirty this season, although Rhylee tried her best. I firmly believe that there aren’t two sides to every story when that story is how a group of men systematically demeaned their female colleagues. The offenders did not deserve the benefit of the doubt they got from Andy. I’m not hopeful for pt. 2 but you know I’ll be tuning in anyway. Let’s hope the ladies get their barbs in next ep, and that Andy stops stumping for the abusive assholes.


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Kate is a staff contributor. You can follow her on Twitter.

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