How the Below Deck Franchise Has Changed Over the Years

Reality TV

The Below Deck franchise first took to the seas in 2013. Onboard Superyacht Honor, camera crews followed the lives of the hired cast members for Season 1. Once this season aired, it was clear that certain aspects worked, while others needed tweaking. With each season, changes have thus been made, giving viewers a deeper glimpse into what takes place on luxury yachts.

Mark Cronin and Courtland Cox, Below Deck’s Executive Producers, sat down with Bravo’s The Daily Dish. Here, they discussed a few changes they’ve had to make within the series. In addition to their candor, we have also spotted ways that this series has evolved with time. From production aspects to the breaking of fourth walls, these are the main ways that the Below Deck franchise has changed over the years.

More Cameras Have Been Added

Below Deck Posting/Instagram

At the start of Season 1, cameras were mounted around the yacht. These cameras were rolling for 24 hours a day, capturing significant amounts of footage. However, the production crews failed to place cameras within the laundry room, and in Season 3, this decision proved to be a huge mistake.

To explain, Eddie Lucas and Raquel “Rocky” Dakota had a secret affair, with their romps taking place behind the laundry room’s closed doors. Footage of any kind was therefore unable to be captured. Thankfully, this oversight was corrected by Season 4, and cameras now live in all of the laundry rooms on Below Deck.

As Captain Lee Rosbach then stated, “this is why we can’t have nice things.”

Below Deck Posting/Instagram

In their interview, Mark and Courtland touched on the changes that have been made regarding each day’s filming length. “We very quickly realized the yachties that are working on these boats, they’re not going to bed at 10 o’clock; they’re going to bed at 2 o’clock in the morning. When our cameras pulled out of there at 10 p.m., there was still four hours’ worth of magic and mayhem and all that was happening,” Courtland explained.

Due to these missed opportunities, the producers acted swiftly, enacting changes that would further shape this series. “We very quickly realized we have to actually bring in more crews and film longer. Going from an 11-hour filming day to now what is essentially a 19 or 20-hour filming day, that’s one of the bigger changes. Production-wise, we’re capturing 125-percent more footage than we did in the first three seasons,” Courtland explained.

Besides fully capturing the yachties’ late-night shifts, these lengthened filming hours also helped showcase the crew’s wild nights out. During these excursions, crew members typically visit local restaurants, then return to the yacht’s hot tub, fully liquored-up. Here, anything from hook-ups to fights have occurred, sometimes simultaneously. Due to this change of longer filming hours, these antics are now guaranteed to be filmed, making this series all the more entertaining.

For us, not for the yachties’ watching families.

Diversity Is on the Table

Below Deck Posting/Instagram

On Season 1, diversity was lacking. Furthermore, varying genders were not seen filling the positions onboard. This was noted when the Captain, Chef, First Officer, Second Engineer, and the deckhands were all male. In similar fashion, the interior team was purely female.

Fast forward to current times and you’ll see that things have greatly improved in terms of gender bias, as the franchise now has a female in the wheelhouse thanks to Captain Sandy Yawn. In addition, Malia White has appeared as a female Bosun, with multiple female deckhands hired on as well. Several men can also now be found working in the interior, with Fraser Olender even recently taking on the title of Chief Stew.

As for diversity, improvements are ongoing. Soon, Tumi Mhlongo will be the first South African Chief Stew, appearing on Below Deck Mediterranean Season 8. Tumi’s effortless reads and quips were hysterical during her time on Below Deck Down Under Season 1. We can’t wait to watch Tumi shine in this position of leadership, and we hope to see further diverse hirings moving forward as Below Deck continues to evolve.

Fourth Walls Are Breaking

LGM Daniel Velazquez/Instagram

Speaking of Below Deck Down Under, Season 2 is currently airing. Here, two separate sexual assault attempts transpired. Taking place during the same evening, viewers watched as production intervened, removing the offending cast members from the bunks of others.

Halfway through Below Deck Season 6, viewers also watched as a member of the production team quickly broke the fourth wall to save a life. This occurred when Ashton Pienaar stepped on a line and was yanked into the water. Ashton was seconds away from his foot being severed, bleeding out to death. He was truly fortunate that a nearby cameraman intervened.

In addition to these serious events, the breaking of the fourth wall has been a fun change for this series. It was especially rewarding in Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 4. Here, a member of production is overheard heard asking Gary King about his relationship status with Mads Herrera. When Gary gets things incorrect, production can be heard challenging Gary on-air, right before, a snarky reel was show, proving that Gary was wrong.

Sometimes, fourth walls need to be broken. We love this change seen in the Below Deck franchise.

New Spin-Offs Continue To Emerge

Below Deck Bravo/Instagram

One final change seen in the Below Deck franchise are the multiple spin-offs that have taken place. Below Deck Mediterranean came first, followed by Below Deck Sailing Yacht, Below Deck Down Under, and finally, Below Deck Adventure. Though to be clear, Below Deck Adventure has not yet been picked up for a second season.


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