‘Below Deck’: Ashton Pienaar Insists He Isn’t the Only One Responsible for the Drama This Season

Ashton Pienaar from Below Deck asserts that the darkness this season is due to the personality mix on the boat and not that he’s simply a misogynist. The bosun spoke out about being accused of turning the deck team against deckhand Rhylee Gerber, plus the altercations he and Brian de Saint Pern had with chief stew Kate Chastain.

Courtney Skippon, Simone Mashile, Kevin Dobson, Tanner Sterback, Ashton Pienaar, Brian de Saint Pern, Rhylee Gerber
Courtney Skippon, Simone Mashile, Kevin Dobson, Tanner Sterback, Ashton Pienaar, Brian de Saint Pern, Rhylee Gerber| Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Pienaar returned this season to lead the deck team. While he began the season with a smile, he descended into troubled waters after violently lashing out at Chastain and constantly complaining about Gerber to his subordinates. He tried to have Gerber fired during a recent episode and seemed frustrated when Captain Lee Rosbach instead insisted Pienaar learn to get along with Gerber.

He’s received a significant amount of social media hate, with some fan groups calling for him to be fired. Crew members, including Rosbach, have had harsh words for the bosun’s behavior. Plus, Rosbach said he’d never consider working with Pienaar ever again.

He claims misogyny has nothing to do with the drama

Bravo’s The Daily Dish asked Pienaar about how the season has become an environment of men versus women. “The whole misogynistic thing and the whole boys-verse-girls thing, that’s kind of the theme of the way the season has gone. And, you know, I don’t look at it as another boys’ thing, as this female-against-male thing,” he asserted. “If the guys had issues with Kate [Chastain] and Rhylee [Gerber] throughout the season — that’s what it [is].” 

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Pienaar points out that he wasn’t the only person who had an issue with Chastain. “Everybody has their fair share of run-ins with Kate,” he said. “Brian had the [moment] where he called her a ‘bitch,’ which obviously blew up. And I’ve had my issues with Kate.”

He then doubled down on why the entire deck team couldn’t work with Gerber. “We didn’t not get along with Rhylee because she’s female,” he insisted. “We did not get along with Rhylee because she’s Rhylee, and she has the attitude that she has.”

Pienaar also thinks some of the drama was due to small instances that were blown out of proportion.  “Anything negative, whether it was socially on the boat or a little joke or something like that, was really magnified,” he said.  

But he wasn’t shy sharing he didn’t want to work with Gerber before she arrived

Viewers saw Pienaar’s reaction when Rosbach told him Gerber would replace deckhand Abbi Murphy. They also saw the number of times where he would continue to complain to his deck team about Gerber too. Gerber told Showbiz Cheat Sheet in November that Pienaar has held a grudge against her since season 6.

However, she was optimistic about her return and hoped to finally get a chance to dig in and learn more on deck. “But I also had this dreaded feeling, you know, he’s probably going to be gunning for me,” she said. When she finally saw Pienaar, “I think his heart literally stopped.”

The problem is that Pienaar’s ego is out of control, Gerber said. “Ashton has the biggest ego out of anybody I’ve ever met,” she said. “With that, there’s pros and cons because I know he’s going to try to make himself look good as bosun, which means he was going to try to make it appear like he was being fair.”

Gerber told Decider she even came into this season holding back, which she now regrets. She added that unfortunately, Pienaar allowed his personal pre-conceived opinion cloud his ability to lead the team. “I think Ashton has all the qualities a bosun should have, without ever having been in the position myself. He can be a great leader if he remembers to keep his personal feelings aside. Because now you’re in charge and it’s your responsibility to set that tone, and he very much shares his opinion with the crew so that’s lacking leadership. However, when it comes to trying to plan things out and incorporate everybody, he did a much better job with that than Chander did.”