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Patti Stanger Defends ‘Best Friend’ Jill Zarin’s ‘Below Deck’ Drama: ‘All She Wants Is Diet Coke’ (Exclusive)

Patti Stanger questioned the overwhelming response to Jill Zarin‘s recent appearance on Bravo’s Below Deck.

“I knew about it. I think they went crazy. I saw her rider,” Stanger, 62, exclusively told Us Weekly about Zarin’s preference sheet while promoting her new CW series, Patti Stanger: The Matchmaker. “All she wants is Diet Coke. She’s my best friend. My whole refrigerator is stocked with Diet Coke for her.”

Stanger pointed out that Zarin “doesn’t like” fancy items, adding, “She likes frozen yogurt and a Diet Coke. She could live on that for the rest of her life. So I don’t really understand what happened there.”

According to Stanger, Zarin, 60, didn’t find the backlash to her episode “fair.” Zarin made her debut on Below Deck earlier this month when she was a guest on a two-day charter. Her demands, however, quickly became too much for the crew.

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“Jill is the primary in her head. She’s overwhelming,” stew Barbie Pascual said in a confessional before apologizing via social media after the episode aired. “I think she’s annoying and I think it is too much. You are a freeloading guest who is extremely demanding. This is too much for me. I need another stew just for Jill.”

Patti Stanger Defends Best Friend Jill Zarin s Below Deck Drama All She Wants Is Diet Coke 609
Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Cosmopolitan

After the episode aired, fans took to social media to share highlights from Zarin’s preference sheet. There was a page specifically dedicated to Zarin’s request for Diet Coke and not Diet Pepsi.

“If you can’t get it in advance let me know as I will bring back from the States! I drink at least 10 cans of Diet Coke a day,” she wrote before mentioning it again in the liquor section. “Jill doesn’t drink anything but Diet Coke on the rocks.”

Before Zarin’s appearance on Below Deck aired, chief steward Fraser Olender said there were no hard feelings, telling Us in February, “She’s sweet. She’s very lovely and very funny — but demanding. [But] all guests are demanding. They’re charter guests and they’ve got their preferences and sometimes they can be frustrating.”

Zarin, meanwhile, blamed Olender for certain issues that took place during the charter.

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“I went into it with the attitude that I want to make a good show. I was me, I literally was me. I was me the way I am in my real life,” she explained on the Tuesday, April 9, episode of the “Juicy Scoop” podcast. “If I like my Diet Coke then I want another. If I don’t like it then I will send it back. If I don’t like my food then I send it back. Most people do.”

Zarin continued: “When I think about the trip, it was the head stew’s job to make sure things went seamlessly, and I kind of blame him for the trip being a total disaster. … I did this show because my friends wanted to go on TV — I don’t blame them. I didn’t mind doing it with them because as long as I am me, I am good.”

When Stanger isn’t weighing in on all things Bravo, the businesswoman is hosting a brand new show on The CW titled The Matchmaker. Stanger, who has also teamed up with Eye of Love, said the project was a response to fans who asked her about how dating has evolved since the COVID pandemic.

“It’s a very different departure from Millionaire Matchmaker. There are elements of Millionaire Matchmaker, and I’m so grateful to Bravo for that and you can stream it right now on Netflix,” she told Us about her past show. “But this was more of every person calling me post-pandemic and going, ‘What the F is going on? Why am I still single?’ We were learning about ancestral trauma, we were learning about attachment styles, we were learning about narcissism.”

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Stanger praised The CW for giving her “free reign,” adding, “[They allowed us to] create a show that’s going to break all your patterns in love. It’s really exciting. It’s breaking new ground on television. We have Love Is Blind and we have The Bachelor. And even though my cohost is Nick Viall from The Bachelor, there weren’t shows teaching us [this]. It’s like a social experiment. What about those people at home who are not getting out of the house and meeting anyone?”

She continued: “The technology is changing but not the biology, and we’re getting super disconnected. We’re living in a fantasy world. It’s going to be an AI world. We’re in a matrix.”

Patti Stanger: The Matchmaker premieres on The CW Thursday, April 11, at 8 p.m. ET.

With reporting by Christina Garibaldi

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