Baywatch, the biggest TV series of the ‘90s, is coming back on screens with its original cast, this time as a documentary under the name of Baywatch: The American Dream. Matt Felker, director and producer, an acclaimed observer of pop culture and social media trends, together with producer Nicole Eggert (Summer Quinn on Baywatch) and Jeremy Jackson (Hobie Buchannon, the son of David Hasselhoff on Baywatch), discuss the more serious aspects of a worldwide phenomenon which went viral before the age of social media in a new episode of the podcast Factual America.
The conversation hosted by Mathew Sherwood reveals the reasons behind Europe’s fascination with Baywatch and the American dream, highlighting that if it wasn’t for Europe, the show would have failed. While the States didn’t always respect the show, Europeans always embraced it.
Baywatch delivered the American dream into people’s living rooms, selling a certain lifestyle to the world ahead of its time. However, 20 years later the show is still just as popular and continues to resonate with a global audience. As millennials and Gen Z are rediscovering the ‘90s, assimilating the decade’s trends and culture, Matt Felker aims to reintroduce Baywatch to a young and open-minded audience through this documentary, and breathe new life into the show.
Although viewers’ perceptions worldwide might have been influenced heavily by the series’ aesthetics – mostly a visual feed of beautiful people, or the Instagram of its day – the documentary is set out to show that there is so much more depth to its cast and storylines.
As Jeremy explains: “We now get to tell the intellectual story, the one that news articles and interviews don’t want to talk about.
“Baywatch was very much in a box of just beauty and the same old questions all the time. It was just manufactured as the press got a preconceived interview that they wanted to land, and they were not going to let us tell anything other than that. So, being on the other end of the story, knowing the authenticity that took place, the hurts, the good relationships, the special moments, how being put in that box affected us, would be really cool to watch.”
Nicole agrees, anticipating people’s surprise with what they have in store: “I think people kind of giggle at first when you say it’s an intellectual look at Baywatch. Because I think when you say Baywatch documentary people think fluff, T&A and flash.
:They are really going to be surprised at the art of the characters; actors were full stars while they were on the show and then everyone had their ups and downs but everybody’s a success story at this point in their lives.
“It will surprise people on how much depth there is to everybody instead of just being a beautiful face and body and the approach we had on it”.
Besides sharing their experiences and memories of Baywatch, Nicole and Jeremy discuss the layers behind the movie and the legacy of the show, but also the lives of the actors on set and people’s careers after Baywatch.
Specifically, they share with complete candour what it was like being child actors, the ways in which the production impacted their lives and the ‘family’ environment they have built thanks to David Hasselhoff.
In addition, Factual America’s guests touch upon how the documentary idea came about, how Nicole and Jeremy got involved, and also draw parallels between the social and political context of the ‘90s and the current environment. This offers a great opportunity to compare the American dream now and then, which is also reflected in the documentary.
With the global pandemic initially putting the production on pause, they also explain how COVID-19 is affecting their day-to-day lives and how they’re focusing on finalising this work, as the crew members have resumed filming in August.
Nicole argues this troubling context helps people relate to the show more than ever, as it provides much-needed relief from the real world: “In a context of earthquakes and riots, Baywatch was the escape and that’s why it was the number one show in the world, and I think now with this quarantine it can once again be everybody’s escape for what’s going on in the real world.
“I think it’s come full circle. The quarantine is kind of a blessing in a weird way for this project, because it will give everybody that same sense that they got in the `90s when they wanted to escape all of reality and watch this fantasy show so they’ll get to relive that as it’s a warm, happy, feel-good documentary.”
You can listen to the full episode here.