If you watched June 22’s episode of Below Deck: Mediterranean and hadn’t been keeping up with recent news about the show, it might’ve seemed like another regular (if a bit boring) episode. But just days before, network Bravo and production company 51 Minds announced they had “terminated” Peter Hunziker, the season’s lead deckhand and a more prominent cast member, for a recent racist (not to mention sexist) Instagram post. The decision came following Bravo’s firing of Stassi Schroeder and Kristen Doute for racism between seasons of Vanderpump Rules. “Bravo and 51 Minds are editing the show to minimize his appearance for subsequent episodes,” the companies promised in their statement. A spokesperson for the show confirmed it was “currently in edit” on June 17. “Pete’s appearance will be minimized in the back half of the season,” the spokesperson confirmed on June 23.
Post-taping firings like Pete’s have become a recurring theme in reality TV this year, with cast members recently cut from RuPaul’s Drag Race, Siesta Key and The Challenge for racism and/or sexual misconduct. Yet Pete featured significantly more in this week’s episode than any of those stars did after their firings/disqualifications. Alex Kompothecras only appeared on last week’s Siesta Key via a shot of the back of his head, Dee Nguyen’s Purgatory and Tribunal appearances were entirely cut from recent episodes of The Challenge, and Sherry Pie’s appearances in Drag Race season 12 were whittled down to challenge presentations and runways. But on “Ace of Stew Face,” the most recent Below Deck: Med episode, full segments of the episode revolved around Pete, even including a confessional interview.
In fact, the episode opens with a focus on Pete, following his unaltered appearance in the opening credits. In the opening scene, Captain Sandy is telling the crew they need to respect their bosun, Malia, and not call her “sweetheart,” comments that are directed at Pete. A montage later shows all the recent times Pete called Malia “sweetheart.” Even when Pete isn’t talking, the crew spends a significant portion of the episode talking about Pete after the meeting, as well as later during setup for a picnic, when they notice he’s “sensitive” after struggling to set up a table. He provides all the drama for the picnic scene and later causes Malia to cut her leg when he doesn’t put away broken glass properly.
Pete’s presence in “Ace of Stew Face” is front-loaded, with his only confessional also coming during the first half, when playing with a guest’s baby prompts him to share how he couldn’t see his own son for weeks after his birth because Pete got bacterial meningitis. “I’m not the guy who comes off as a father,” he admits in the confessional. It’s the last significant Pete scene until the crew goes to a nightclub at the end of the episode, where we see Pete trying to pick up girls: dancing on them, touching them, and flirting with them.
While both Siesta Key and The Challenge made substantial enough cuts that the episodes had a reduced runtime, “Ace of Stew Face” remains a regular 45-minute Below Deck: Med episode. Pete still appears in passing, too, mostly doing his job and having small conversations. But save his confessional about being a father, most of Pete’s bigger moments paint him as sexist or difficult to work with. Next week’s teaser promises another storyline involving Pete, making it seem like Below Deck: Med plans to continue taking a lighter hand in editing him out than its reality TV peers have, for now. Even when a Below Deck crew member gets fired during taping — a now classic source of drama — they get a clean break from the show, replacement and all. Pete’s post-taping firing has so far been the opposite: uncharted waters in the franchise’s 13th total season.
This post has been updated to include comment from Bravo.