Some reality TV shows are, for all intents and purposes, scripted. But not Bravo’s “Below Deck,” swears David J. Mahler, of Bellmore, who with his wife Jodi and four friends were the charter-yacht guests on Tuesday’s episode.
“It’s not scripted, I can tell you that 100 percent,” says Mahler, owner of the marine-supply company Boatimpulse.com, the contracting company Koncepts Construction and other businesses. “What all six of us said and did is not prompted at all. And you pretty much stayed miked up the whole time,” he notes. “When you turn in to go to sleep they do take the mikes off.”
Baldwin native Mahler and his wife, who are in their 50s, came aboard the series — about the upstairs / downstairs life of the crew of the 154-foot yacht Valor — through a boating connection. “I’ve watched the show since the first episode and thought it was cool as hell,” Mahler says. “The first season, the boat had the same engine as my old boat, and I knew the engine had been recalled. I got in touch with the captain, he asked me to give him more information, and we’ve stayed in touch over the last three years. Last fall I got a message asking, ‘Would you be interested in being on the show?’ Absolutely!”
They and their friends enjoyed a free vacation, first flying to Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and spending the night in a resort before ferrying on to Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands, where the yacht is moored. Once there, “They give you a prep of what to do. The first thing is: Don’t pay attention to the cameras. But I couldn’t help myself,” he says with a chuckle, “and they had to tell me, ‘Dave, stop talking to the cameramen!’ There’re probably 20-some [production] people on the yacht all at the same time, but you just don’t see them.”
The episode shot on the boat in February, “for better part of three days,” Mahler says. Another, 82-foot boat with the production crew cruises behind the Valor.
And speaking to the professionalism of the crew, “Above deck,” he says, “you would have no idea there was anything going on,” in terms of below-deck arguments, romantic entanglements and other drama, which might or not be tweaked or prompted. Although, he allows, “We did hear [chef] Ben and [chief stew] Kate screaming at each other. You see in the episode I ask Ben if everything is all right.”