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Kate Chastain knows exactly why the Below Deck franchise has grown in popularity and has become Bravo’s highest-rated show.

The reality show began as the “little series that could” in 2013 and grew into a franchise with multiple iterations. In addition to Below Deck, Below Deck Mediterranean, and Below Deck Sailing Yacht, the new series Below Deck Down Under will roll out in 2022 on NBC’s streaming platform, Peacock. An additional Below Deck spinoff was filmed in Norway but through a different production company.

‘Below Deck’ is relatable for many viewers

Chastain tweeted about Below Deck after watching The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip. Ramona Singer from The Real Housewives of New York City started a brawl when she proclaimed that RHONY carried Bravo. “Kenya to Ramona on #RHUGT: ‘You’re a peasant trying to be a queen, you should be cleaning this boat right now’ Meanwhile on their same network,” she tweeted along with a Showbiz Cheat Sheet article: “Below Deck Surpasses Housewives and Becomes Bravo’s Top Rated Show.”

Kate Chastain from 'Below Deck' poses for season 7 cast photo
Kate Chastain |Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank

“The numbers don’t lie,” she told Showbiz Cheat Sheet about Below Deck ratings. “I think what makes a show popular with viewers is relatability, and I think a show where people are doing a job is relatable. Because I would say the vast majority of viewers have to work for a living.”

The current season was no exception when it came to ratings. Below Deck Season 9 continued to consistently dominate the network. The season’s high hit 1.345 million viewers, according to the Twitter account Bravo Ratings, and remained buoyant throughout the season.

The series is a mix of popular returns and fresh faces

Chastain said viewers continue to tune in because workplace drama provides endless storyline opportunities. “There’s workplace drama everywhere,” she pointed out. “I mean, I think every single person, no matter where they work at some point is like, ‘Gosh, this should be a reality show if we had cameras here.’ We’ve all said it. I think that’s what makes a workplace reality TV so popular.”

Below Deck does great numbers and I’m so happy and proud of it. I mean, there’s really no limit to how many oceans there are – I mean there is [laughs] – but I mean, it’s a true machine.”

The 'Below Deck' Season 6 crew line up in preparation for guest arrivals
Captain Lee Rosbach, Kate Chastain, Josiah Carter, Laura Betancourt, Ross Inia, Ashton Pienaar, Rhylee Gerber, Tyler Rowland, Adrian Martin |Greg Endries/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank

Colin Macy O’Toole from Below Deck Mediterranean also reflected on why Below Deck has that certain “je ne sais quoi.” He told Showbiz Cheat Sheet in 2020 that fresh faces every year keep engagement high. “I think it’s the fresh faces every year. People like that,” he said. “The charter guests are different every year. The location is different every year.” 

He also noted that carrying over a few standout cast members adds to the draw. “You always have to have a few returns but then having them interact with new people who they never met before,” he said. “Plus the whole work environment is different. It’s not like they’re just hanging out like, ‘Hey let’s go to this dinner party.’ Who wants to watch that?”

Would Kate Chastain host a ‘Below Deck’ reunion?

Chastain was a massive draw to the series, serving as the chief stew on Below Deck Seasons 2 through 7. She retired after an especially rough final season but continues to have a presence on Bravo.

Showbiz Cheat Sheet wondered if Chastain would ever consider being a Below Deck reunion co-host or host. She has deep knowledge about the show, plus she’s known for not shying away from controversy. But she thinks Bravo’s Andy Cohen does a solid job of hosting. However, she’s ready if he ever wants her to take the reunion hosting gig off of his “to do” list.


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“You know, actually, Andy Cohen has always been so helpful and supportive, and he’s brilliant,” she remarked. “I mean, his advice is always been really good, and he’s busy. He’s the busiest guy. And I was at one point like, ‘Hey, let me take this off your to-do list. I got you [laughs].”

“Yeah, but I wasn’t sure if that would be insulting or helpful,” she added. “So I would tread lightly out of respect. But now that Nicki Minaj [who was a guest host at The Real Housewives of Potomac reunion], she may have opened the door …”