Jesse Biter has done a lot with his life. He helped build and lead three companies from scratch to well more than $1 million in annual sales. He and his wife, Katie Biter, have hosted U.S. Senate and presidential candidates for fundraisers at their downtown condo. He’s bought and sold multiple downtown buildings and is an outspoken voice for rules that promote affordable housing and a vibrant downtown. He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2014.
Now Biter can add another part: Reality TV star, where he gets to be the obnoxious American, who belittles the help on a luxury yacht, drinks alcohol like it’s water and is the leader of loutish group of demanding snobs. That’s how Biter comes off on two recent episodes of the Bravo TV show “Below Deck Mediterranean.”
The show is ostensibly about a group of young crewmates on a luxury yacht, and their lives on and off the job “below deck.” But on episodes that aired July 5 and July 12, Biter and seven other guests on the yacht are “vulgar, rude and disgusting,” according to one crewmate, Hannah, who was basically Biter’s foil on the episodes.
Biter said the experience was a blast. He has no regrets.
“I didn’t mind being the show’s villain,” Biter said. “I hope people realize reality TV isn’t necessarily real.”
Biter and his fellow yacht guests took a beating on social media, with the ugly American image front and center. With a week to reflect after the airing, Biter spoke to the Sarasota Observer about the experience. Due to a confidentiality contract with Bravo, Biter said he couldn’t comment on what aspects of the show were real and what was forced. Here are excerpts of the conversation:
What was the show really like?
We had a lot of fun. It was a great experience. We learned a lot about how a reality TV show is made, which was a lot of fun. A lot of people don’t get it, but it was really a game. And it was fun playing a role.
Are you worried your image, in the business community or with your family, will suffer from the way you came off in the show?
People who know me know this isn’t real. Bad service equals complaints equals drama equals good ratings. My mom’s best friend loves the show, and she had a big laugh watching it. The producers wouldn’t be doing their job if everyone on the show were happy.
Would you and Katie go on the show again?
We would definitely do it again. We might want to have more say in how the story is told, but we would absolutely do it again.