Saved by the Bell

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Emily Clark

TV Series Review

The Bayside High gang is back! Well, sort of.

After graduating, marrying his high school sweetheart (Kelly Kapowski) and working as a lawyer for a while, Bayside’s most popular alum, Zack Morris (from the class of 1993), became the governor of California in a scheme to get out of a $75 parking ticket.

But this series reboot isn’t focused on Zack or Kelly or Jessie Spano (who became a successful child psychologist and now serves as Bayside’s guidance counselor) or even A.C. Slater, Bayside’s athletic director. It’s focused on their kids.

See, while Jessie and A.C. returned to their alma mater to help transform the next generation of teens into “healthy and mature adults,” Governor Zack (as he’s fondly known) cut $10 billion from educational spending, resulting in thousands of school closures across California.

Now, Bayside and other schools in well-funded, high property tax areas are being forced to integrate students from the closed schools, bringing a whole new flavor of pupils to Bayside High.

Saved by the Buck

Mac Morris, Zack and Kelly’s son, takes up the mantle of Bayside’s resident prankster like his father before him. He and his two best friends, Jamie (Jessie’s son and captain of the football team) and Lexi (a popular, transgender student) welcome the new additions to their school and immediately try to assimilate their classmates to a world of unlimited riches and zero consequences.

But you won’t see any of them breaking the fourth wall as Zack did in the original series. That honor falls to Daisy, one of the transfer students from Douglas High. At first, Daisy is excited to finally attend a school with money for things like textbooks and computers. However, she quickly realizes that without money of her own, none of that matters.

Because Bayside can afford nicer things, it also assumes its students can afford nicer things—like smartphones and tablets. Daisy has neither, which means she can’t download her textbooks like the Palisades locals, and she doesn’t have access to the Bayside student app (which inconveniently is the only place where announcements are made, such as running for Student Government).

But Daisy isn’t ready to give up. She believes that if you work hard enough, you can accomplish anything—a belief she passes on to her friends and fellow transfer students Aisha and Devante, who want to try out for the football team and school musical, respectively.

And through their perseverance, the Douglas transfers just might be able to teach their new friends at Bayside that if you really want to make a difference in the world, don’t just throw money at it or ask your parents to fix it. Instead, prove that you care by working hard and showing consideration for others.

Bayside is Trash

Fans of the original Saved by the Bell series will probably appreciate that this reboot is a direct sequel, filled with plenty of Easter eggs and inside jokes. But the show also seeks to fix many of the problems that came up in the original series.

NBC executives hired Dashiell Driscoll, creator of the Funny or Die series “Zack Morris Is Trash,” to be a writer on the series. Through his guidance, this new Saved by the Bell calls out many of the original show’s issues (such as Zack and A.C.’s misogynism), makes fun of them and even corrects them.

Gone are the days of tormenting teachers without expulsion, exploiting teenage girls and fixing problems with “vaguely inspirational” speeches. It’s refreshing because it encourages the privileged teens of Bayside High to develop empathy—something they’ve never felt or understood before. It also forces some of Bayside’s alums to reevaluate their past actions, allowing them to connect with their students in ways that are actually meaningful and helpful.

But even with that, this new Saved by the Bell isn’t what you might call “saved.” There’s still cursing, inappropriate jokes, underage drinking, dangerous stunts and a certain disregard for the rules. And the students of Bayside High are just as obsessed with sex and teenage romance as ever.

We should also mention that with this modern lens comes modern problems. While the show addresses the struggles of lower-income communities and racism in a very blunt manner, it also talks about the difficulties that a transgender student (played by transgender actor Josie Totah) faces after transitioning.Saved by the Bell feels like a modern, teen-centric comedy series that parents (and fans of the original series) could potentially enjoy with their own teens. But unfortunately, there’s still a lot of sewage to muddle through in this reboot.

Episode Reviews

Nov. 25, 2020: “Pilot”

After Governor Zack cuts educational spending in California, the students of Douglas High are transferred to the well-funded, very privileged Bayside High School.

There are references to sex and nudity. We see women and teenage girls in revealing outfits. People of both genders are called “hot.” People wear bathing suits on a beach. A woman calls out her coworker for a sexist remark. A transgender student brags about a reality show documenting her transition.

There are many racist and classist comments. A girl bets she can get her parents to divorce. We hear about embezzlement. An article talks about worshipping demons. A boy tells his sister that God will punish her for not letting him borrow a library book. People talk about drugs. Several students are discriminated against. Someone says the “universe” got something right. We hear uses of “b–ch,” “d–k,” “d–n,” “a–” and “h—.”

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Emily Clark
Emily Clark

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

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