Emmys 2021: Did ‘Below Deck’ Win the Reality TV Category? (Exclusive)

For the first time, Below Deck received two Emmy nominations. One for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program – 2021 and another for Outstanding Picture Editing For An Unstructured Reality Program – 2021. And while executive producer Mark Cronin was hopeful this would be the nautical docudrama’s year, Below Deck did not win an Emmy Award in either category.

‘Below Deck’ EP knew the competition was pretty fierce

Ahead of the Emmy Award ceremony Cronin discussed being nominated with Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “Well, there’s a lot of shows that are maybe trying to do something good,” he said. “I don’t know. I don’t even know what we’re up against [laughed]. But ours is an entertainment show. It’s an escape, is what it is. It’s not meant to be anything but an escape.” RuPaul’s Drag Race Untucked won the Emmy in the Unstructured Reality Program category. Life Below Zero took home the prize for Editing For An Unstructured Reality Program.

Captain Lee Rosbach from Below Deck checks a map. The show was nominated for 2 Emmy Awards
Captain Lee Rosbach from Below Deck checks a map. The show was nominated for 2 Emmy Awards | Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank

Indeed, Below Deck viewers are whisked away to some of the most desirable, exotic locations in the world. From the Caribbean to Thailand, and soon Australia and Norway, Below Deck viewers know they will get a taste of a new culture and landscape from a lavish superyacht. But viewers are also treated to humor and drama from both the guests and the crew.

More people binged ‘Below Deck’ during the pandemic

Cronin says that the show is extremely binge-worthy. “The idea is you blink and you’ve just watched four episodes,” he said. Plus the pandemic created an entirely new fan base of viewers who binged past seasons and became fans. “People were sitting at home looking for something to watch after Tiger King and The Queen’s Gambit,” he said about how people embraced television during the pandemic.

“And a lot of people found Below Deck and they liked it,” he added. “But then they found that it had been on the air for 10 years. And they could go back all of a sudden and binge the seasons of shows. I’m quite proud of some of those seasons. And so it actually gained … I don’t know. I think people being trapped at home watching TV became a binge-able reality show, which is not a common thing.”

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Ratings soared during 2020 and 2021 for Below Deck and Below Deck Mediterranean. Not only did they take over the Bravo network, but Below Deck ratings also did something not seen for several years – beat out the Housewives franchises.

Mark Cronin dished about how the ‘Below Deck sausage’ is made

Cronin offered some behind-the-scenes intel about how the show comes together. He said while Below Deck is not a hardcore documentary, it is about as real as it gets in the reality world. “It’s a spectrum,” he said about the reality genre. “Some reality shows are about as set up as they appear to be. And some reality shows are, you know, I guess like Frontline, you know, it’s it truly is a documentary story.”

“You’re being manipulated by the music that helps set your mood,” he remarked. “You’re being manipulated by the interview bites that we’re popping in at the perfect moment where you hear somebody react to what’s inside their head that you would never get in a documentary or a fly on the wall kind of shoot.”

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“So we are jazzing it up, but we are telling the true story,” he said. “We don’t tell anybody what to do. It’s not that kind of show. We don’t have to. It’s like charter guests are coming on, and they’re paying a lot of money – go! That’s the premise of the show.”