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With two cast members being fired from Bravo’s Below Deck Down Under recently after incidents of inappropriate behavior, the aftermath has brought on plenty of reactions and questions surrounding what happened, why it happened and how it was handled.
After a series of events that occurred on episodes 6 and 7 of Season 2, which aired consecutively on Monday night, the boat’s captain, Jason Chambers, terminated the employment of bosun Luke Jones, and then third steward Laura Bileskalne.
Here's a breakdown of events, along with what cast members, viewers and experts have had to say about the incidents.
After an evening out with the crew where third stew Margot Sisson got “really drunk,” she was propositioned on the way back to the boat by Jones but declined and was helped to bed by chief steward Aesha Scott.
However, during and after a brief power outage on the boat, cameras caught Jones entering Sisson’s room wearing nothing but a towel and then climbed into her bed fully nude.
At that point the show’s producers stepped in and told Jones he had to leave. After trying to talk Sisson into letting him stay and slamming the door on producers, they were able to get Jones out of the room and eventually back to his own room where he locked himself in.
Scott witnessed the latter part of the incident and spoke with Sisson about it before waking up Captain Chambers to inform him about the incident. Chambers entered Jones’s room and ordered him off the boat to stay at a hotel for the night. Jones was terminated the following morning.
We also learned that around the same time that incident was occurring, things had been escalating between Bileskalne and deckhand Adam Kodra. She had been persistently trying to engage in physical contact with Kodra throughout the night but he repeatedly declined. It culminated in Bileskalne entering Kodra's room and climbing into bed to try and give him a massage. Once again, producers intervened and sent her out of the room.
Those events, along with what Chambers described as Bileskalne’s "disrespectful" and "unempathetic" reaction to Sisson’s situation in which she defended Jones’s actions, was enough for Chambers to let her go as well.
What cast members have said about it
Sisson has since reacted to the episodes in an Instagram post, praising both Scott and Chambers for their actions and discussing her healing journey.
Scott used a now-expired Instagram story to give her thoughts after the episodes saying, “I wanted to take the opportunity to remind everyone of the main message that was shown on the episode, which is that women — and actually everyone — have the right to go out and have fun and feel safe and that is just the f***ing end of it. There’s no questions or ifs or buts, that is the end of it. So please keep an eye on your friends and each other.”
Chambers also responded to the episodes on Instagram via video, discussing the messages he has gotten from viewers and those who have been in similar situations. And he reminded people that these events occurred over a year ago, and hopes everyone involved has been “on a better journey to better themselves.”
As far as Jones and Bileskalne, Entertainment Tonight reported that they both made reference to what happened on Instagram, before both switching their accounts to private mode.
Bileskalne reportedly wrote the following on Aug. 8: “My sincere apologies to Adam, I did not realize I made him feel uncomfortable and no one should be put in that position. And to Margot to not been able to empathize, I was 29 when the show was filmed, 30 was my life-changer. I am 31 now and I am watching it as all of you, an entertainment show.”
And according to ET, Jones posted this on Instagram on Aug. 6: “It doesn’t Matter what they think about you because you don’t Care. Everything we Hear is an Opinion, Not a Fact. Everything we see is a Perspective. Not the Truth. Take Ownership and move forward.”
What viewers are saying on social media
Viewers expressed that they were "appalled" and found the incidents "heartbreaking." Other posters expressed how important an episode it was, the reluctance of some men to report sexual harassment situations and how excessive drinking can contribute to assault. Still others took the network, Bravo, to task for the lack of any sort of a trigger warning before the episode.
I rarely will say that an episode of a Bravo show is “important” but the latest episode of Below Deck Down Under was both hard to watch/ triggering, and also incredible in regards to how the situation was handled by crew and production.
— ✐ Mikaela Jane ✎ (@Mikaeladraws) August 10, 2023
Kudos to Aesha, the Below Deck Down Under Producers and @CaptJChambers. They handled it appropriately and Laura should go too. NO TOLERANCE. Drinking may be good for tv ratings - but they need to get a handle on it. Wow. #BelowDeck
— Marjorie McGee (@major_mcgee) August 8, 2023
this whole Below Deck Down Under situation should be sparking not only conversations about men taking advantage of women, but also mens reluctance to report sexual harrassment. It was so heartbreaking to see Adam feeling bad/guilty for having told captain about Laura's behaviour
— jason 🍒 #Chesta (@brandnewidols) August 9, 2023
Hey @BravoTV you REALLY needed to throw trigger warnings on tonight’s Below Deck Down Under episodes.
— Megan (@TrinityRVA) August 8, 2023
Disappointed in @BravoTV for not adding a trigger warning to the two most recent Below Deck Down Under episodes. Though cast/crew members Aesha & Capt. Jason (plus producers) acted admirably, the ripple affects on a victim viewer are felt long after the episode airs #bddu
— Kylie Flett (@Kranky_Kangaroo) August 9, 2023
What experts have to say
Yahoo Life spoke with Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), about the value of the airing of these occurrences. "I think giving people a really clear-eyed view of how sexual assaults come about is really valuable," he says. "You can talk about the theory, you can talk about this in an abstract way for a long time. But actually seeing it occur is going to resonate and stay with people in a way that an abstract discussion can't." More on that here.
Previews for upcoming episodes show the replacements for Jones and Bileskalne arriving on the boat to take their place as the new team moves forward with more charters. There is an instance shown of Sisson potentially drinking on the job and being confronted about it by Chambers.
All of this begs the question: While it's the responsibility of any witness to sexual assault to do whatever is necessary to intervene, what role and responsibility do reality show producers have when it comes to fostering the very climate of drunkenness and partying that can lead to inappropriate behavior in the first place?
Below Deck Down Under airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on Bravo.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, help is available. RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline is here for survivors 24/7 with free, anonymous help. 800.656.HOPE (4673) and online.rainn.org.