The latest trailer for the new Saved By the Bell reboot features some pretty freaking weird metafictional ’90s couple-envy. At one point in the trailer, a teacher character bellows, “I don’t care about your dad, I only care about Zack and Kelly!”
If a new TV series could be awkwardly self-conscious, this is what it would look like. Even though the show stars Elizabeth Berkley and Mario Lopez as Jesse and Slater, kids of the ’90s remember that Mark Paul-Gosselaar and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen — as Zack and Kelly — were the slightly more popular and much more basic characters. And so, even though they’re not the focus of the new show, certain people are going to be freaking out about them appearing on this new show. For any rational person, this creates questions:
- Who is this show actually for?
- Where the fuck are Screech (Turns out Lisa IS back.)
The answer to the first question is truly perplexing. Although the show is ostensibly about contemporary teenagers trying to get through the funhouse mirror of Bayside High, the visual references and basic set-up seems designed to cater to people in their late 30s and early 40s who want to watch a show that looks like creepy virtual reality Black Mirror recreation of the fake 1990s, complete with has-been ’90s heartthrobs making mic-drop cameos, or something. The newest trailer seems to float the premise that the new Saved By the Bell is going to tackle the classist and racist privileges of the old characters, but let’s get real. This won’t be some kind of contemporary version of Clueless in which the vehicle of Saved By the Bell is used to make some kind of interesting social commentary. Or rather, if that does happen, it will be truly shocking.
Instead, the new Saved By the Bell trailer seems like it’s delivering bad ’90s nostalgia, but asking the audience to snort a candy for a pixie stick as though it were cocaine. You’re not going to feel good, but at least it’s retro, right?
On top of all of this, the two characters missing from the proceedings are arguably the only characters who even understood what it was like to “othered”: Screech and Lisa. Infamously Dustin Diamond (Screech) has become radioactive to his co-stars after several high-profile dust-ups and disorderly conduct.
Update: Turns out Lark Voorhies will appear in the new Saved By the Bell! Os, it’s really just Screech.
If the purpose of the new Saved By the Bell was to do some kind of progressive comment on the original show and bring back the old characters — warts and all — then why not try to at least have some kind of involvement from Diamond? The ’90s kids who are interested in this reboot probably don’t care about the behind-the-scenes drama, because, as the unhinged character shouts in the trailer, we just want our fake nostalgia, but we want it complete. Having a Saved By the Bell reunion without Screech or Lisa feels like that era when The Spice Girls went on tour without Ginger. It’s not quite enough to get mad about, but it still feels wrong.
Saved By the Bell will hit Peacock on November 25. We’re not exactly looking forward to it, but we’d be lying if we said we could possibly look away.
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