Below Deck producer talks coronavirus pandemic shutting down Season 8

Below Deck producers reveals how the show handled coronavirus pandemic abruptly ending Season 8.
The Below Deck production team scrambled to make sure cast and crew got home safely. Pic credit: Bravo

Below Deck producer Lauren Simms recently talked about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic shutting down Season 8 early.

The finale of the hit Bravo yachting show packed a punch. Elizabeth Frankini was fired the day before the final two charters were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Captain Lee Rosbach informed the crew in a shocking meeting the season was over. The cast partied the night away and exited the yacht the next day.

There were a lot of emotions as the My Seanna crew said good-bye. Rob Phillips and Izzy Wouters even had a tense discussion before he left regarding the way he treated her.

Now, as Season 8 ends its run, Lauren spills details of filming amid the coronavirus pandemic and how the Bravo show handled being cut short.

Cast and crew were priority number one

The main priority for Below Deck producers was getting the cast and crew home safely.

“They don’t teach you how to sort of prepare for crisis situations like this. And it certainly felt like we were in a crisis because, you know, you have a team of about 50 out there,” Lauren shared with Bravo Insider.

Plus, having to ensure cast and crew could get to various countries presented a challenge because of different safety protocols and shutdowns.

“I’m just glad that we got our people home safe and that everyone got home safe and sound. That means more to me than anything,” she expressed.

Lauren shared filming began in February, and production monitored the health climate closely. Like so many, though, producers weren’t prepared for the magnitude of coronavirus pandemic.

“It was a very surreal feeling. We went down there [to Antigua] in early February. We just thought this would pass, and being down there. We were in a bubble. I think by the time we wrapped up in mid-March, there was only one case,” Lauren stated.

Creating a season with less footage

The good news for Below Deck was the show got to film seven out of the nine charters. It gave post-production a fair amount of footage to create a season.

“I’m really proud of the crew for filming the season and also for the team working in post,” Lauren spilled. “I’m just proud of the entire team for what they did this season in light of what we were against. The crew that works on the show is really passionate about it.”

Even with less footage, Below Deck Season 8 had 16 episodes, which was only two less than the 18 episodes in Season 7. The shorter season also hasn’t hurt the ratings either.

Season 8 remains on track to outperform Season 7, which was a more dramatic season. Plus, Below Deck has become the top-rated show at Bravo, beating out The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

Below Deck Season 8 reunion airs Monday, February 22 at 9/8c on Bravo.