When Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 1 premiered in 2020, executive producer Mark Cronin thought the series would be the “most intense ever” for the Below Deck franchise.
And while the series launched featuring a gorgeous sailing yacht and a new crew with crossover chef Adam Glick, it fell short of Cronin’s anticipations.
Why did Mark Cronin think ‘Below Deck Sailing Yacht’ Season 1 would be so intense?
Bravo talked to Cronin leading up to the new series premiere in 2020. He referred to it as being the “most intense” ahead of the February 2020 rollout. “It’s got everything that Below Deck has: The drama, the romance, the hard working conditions, the work drama, personal drama, cramped spaces,” he said. “If you took everything on Below Deck and just put it on its side 30 degrees and had it all fall, that would be this new show.”
Cronin acknowledged how heeling over will present unique challenges for the crew. “Like if you got your crème brûlée in the oven and all of a sudden the boat heels over, it’s ruined,” Cronin teased about what Glick was going to be up against. “So he actually came up with these cool, innovative things, like he’d put the racks in crooked, one on one level, and one on the other. And so when the boat’s heeled over, the rack is level.”
The ‘Below Deck’ storylines just didn’t land
Cronin also hinted that Glick’s romance this season would be even more explosive in a good way. And while yes, Glick and chief stew Jenna MacGillivray have a wild boatmance, it didn’t seem to resonate with viewers. Decider reviewed the season, pointing out some of the issues that some viewers took with the season. “This didn’t feel like the Adam we know and love.” Plus, “His romance with chief stew Jenna was not nearly the fairytale we hoped for.”
“The more they seemed to fall for each other, the meaner they became to their coworkers, especially Jenna, in order to have something to laugh about together.”
Also, the other crew stories didn’t seem to land. Former couple Ciara Dugan and Paget Berry worked together on deck. But even the few times they bickered over work didn’t create much interest from the viewers. Third stew Georgia Grobler flirted with Berry, which usually resulted in the two of them singing the same song with guitar.
Decider summed it up: “Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 1 was just fine — even though that’s not a great thing in the world of reality TV.” And added, “The romance wasn’t charming, the drama wasn’t salacious, the guests all seemed to be fine for the most part. That sounds nice and all, but nobody wants a boring vacation.”
‘Below Deck Sailing Yacht’ Season 2 was actually the most intense (followed by season 3)
Producers took the overall viewer reactions and reviews back to the drawing board. Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 2 executive producer Jill Goslicky shared in a Reddit AMA why a new cast (plus Captain Glenn Shephard) was vital for the new season.
“It’s a delicate decision that’s made between us (the producers), the Captain, and Bravo. A lot of it has to do with what is going on in that person’s life at the time. Do they have compelling reasons for their story to continue on in the show?” she shared. “You’ve seen some instances where cast members take a season off and then come back, for instance. That’s because circumstances are suddenly right for them to make a return.”
Shephard agreed with recasting the show. “I think a lot of people feel, and I agree, that this season there was a lot of craziness, there’s a lot of romance, there’s a lot of flirtation and stuff like that,” he said on the Instagram Pita Party. “But the biggest thing is, I loved the guys from the first season, nothing against them. But this one is more positive. The energy is more positive.”