I recently rediscovered this show from the 1990s. It is about a group of lifeguards in Los Angles, California. At its height this show was, quite frankly, a phenomenon. It had a worldwide following and was on the air for more than 10 years. I am pretty sure I watched it when it aired but I remember very little of it.
As I was watching a few episodes I started to notice a number of things. At its heart it was a drama about lifeguards and it showed them in the most heroic manner. It also highlighted what was most important in life. It showed good people caring about others. It showed people doing the right thing, even when it hurt. It highlighted the importance of telling the truth and of honesty and compassion. I think it is as relevant today as it was titillating in the 90s.
When people talked about Baywatch they always commented on the skimpy bathing suits and the women running down the beach (in slow motion) with their bits jiggling away. They talked about how good-looking the lifeguards were and how their muscles glistened and their hair was… Yes, the focus of the audience was on the surface.
It was fun, it was pure escapism, it was Hollywood. It wasn’t high drama or even politically correct by today’s standards. I believe we all need a little mindless distraction. Isn’t it so much better when that mindless distraction actually has a message underneath and one that is so positive? David Hasselhoff was the main character and he is still known for that show. Several other actors started on Baywatch and went on to have quite successful careers. Putting aside all the jingling, it’s nice to see lifeguards portrayed as more than pretty bimbos. They even had an actual LA lifeguard as one of the regular cast. He had a career as a lifeguard for over 20 years.
The show put me in mind of Aesop‘s fables. There is a story on the surface but there’s a message imbedded. I remember those fables as a child and the lessons they taught me. Maybe Baywatch is a grown-up version.