‘Below Deck Mediterranean’ Season 2 Cast Decision Changed the Franchise Direction Forever

The Below Deck Mediterranean Season 2 cast became an absolute gamechanger for not only the series but the franchise in general. Executive producer Nadine Rajabi, who worked on both Below Deck and Below Deck Mediterranean recently discussed how casting Captain Sandy Yawn was a pivotal moment for the franchise.

‘Below Deck’ was just a little ‘boat show’

Rajabi dished on the Melissa Rivers’ Group Text podcast about how the Below Deck franchise was known as the little “boat show” before Yawn came on board. “We were still trying to figure out Med, it was like the ‘Little Engine that Could.’ Nobody was talking about Below Deck,” she remarked. “I was working on Below Deck and Below Deck Med, trying to launch Med. Like nobody cared. It was like a little boat show on Bravo.”

Below Deck Mediterranean Season 2 photo of Captain Sandy Yawn
Below Deck Mediterranean Season 2 photo of Captain Sandy Yawn | Virginia Sherwood/Bravo/ NBCU Photo Bank

Rajabi has a background in standup comedy and said a fellow comedian suggested Yawn. Below Deck Med Season 1 had already filmed with Captain Mark Howard but it wasn’t a ratings smash hit that it is today. “This comedian friend of mine goes, ‘I know a captain, a female captain,’” Rajabi said. “I’m like, ‘Oh really is she a superyacht captain?’ She goes, ‘Yeah.’” Rajabi admitted that she sat on the lead for a few days, not giving it much thought.

Captain Sandy landed in Nadine Rajabi’s lap and changed the show forever

“I didn’t think twice about it, I thought my friend was full of sh–t,” she recalled. “And then two days later I go home and Google Captain Sandy and was like ‘Oh my God, this woman has an award for being chased by pirates in the Red Sea!’ She’s the real deal! So right away I text the network, ‘You guys gotta see this woman!’”

Yawn’s name arose on the verge of the 2016 presidential election. “This was right when Hillary [Clinton] was about to run for President. It was before Trump,” she said. “This was huge female empowerment. It was a big, big deal of having a female captain. And no disservice to our first captain but there was something so special about Sandy, just reading about her and all the things she had done.”

RELATED: ‘Below Deck Mediterranean’: Captain Sandy Reveals How ‘Below Deck’ Fills Crew Positions

“So long story short, talking to her and getting her on the show, she became the face of the series,” Rajabi said. “All through a comic friend who randomly knew her!” Yawn became the cast captain for Below Deck Med Season 2 and ratings began to explode not only for Below Deck Med but also for Below Deck. New spin-off series were created including Below Deck Sailing Yacht and, coming soon, Below Deck Down Under.

‘Below Deck Med’ dominates Bravo ratings

The Below Deck franchise now leads the Bravo network in ratings. The Real Housewives franchise long reigned supreme on the network, but Below Deck is consistently outpacing most Housewives series. This all may have something to do with the Below Deck Med Season 2 casting decision.

RELATED: ‘Below Deck Med’: Colin Macy-O’Toole Reveals Why ‘Below Deck’ Is One of Bravo’s Highest-Rated Series

Below Deck Med Season 5 was a record-breaking season for the franchise and the network. But the controversial season left some viewers feeling sour and many vowed to ban the upcoming season. However, viewers did not stay away. Ratings continue to dominate the network, despite the series streaming one episode ahead on NBC’s Peacock service.