In Emerald Bay, Florida, Lt. Mitch Buchannon and his team of lifeguards, including second-in-commmand Stephanie Holden and veteran C.J. Parker, protect the beaches and the bay as part of an elite division known as Baywatch. Having made over 500 rescues in his career, Mitch is beloved by the community, to the annoyance of local beat cop Garner Ellerbee and Mitch’s superior, Captain Thorpe. During one of his morning patrols, Mitch discovers a small pouch of drugs washed up near the Huntley Club, which is now under the ownership of businesswoman Victoria Leeds.
At the upcoming tryouts for new lifeguards, three people stand out: surfer Summer Quinn, an old friend of Holden’s, Ronnie, a chubby nerd with a crush on C.J., and Matt Brody, a former Olympic swimmer who fell from grace after vomiting during a race and now has to perform community service as part of an unspecified plea deal.
Quinn and Ronnie both pass the trials, but Brody refuses to do so and insists that his celebrity alone entitles him to a place on the team. Despite Brody demonstrating his abilities by assisting in the rescue of a drowning woman and her son, Mitch complains to Thorpe that he is unfit. Thorpe, in turn, insists that rehabilitating his image is necessary to convince the city not to further cut Baywatch’s funding.