Saved by the Bell has recently become available on Netflix instant. From all the mornings before school watching this show, I thought I’d give it another chance as a learned adult. Here are a couple of thoughts concerning early 90s programming gold.
Cuz I’m saved by the be-e-elllllllll
I love that in the first episode of season 3, titled “The Prom,” that Kelly’s hard-hitting decision of the day is to choose who she wants to go to prom with. Problem is, Zach AND Slater both want to take Kelly to prom. God, to be in 1990 again.
Also, many of the episodes are not even trying to hide the fact that they have a political/social agenda. For example, during the same episode, Kelly’s father gets laid off from a job at a defense company due to “growing world peace.” PUKE!!! The next episode in season 3 also mentions growing world peace during an ROTC visit to the school, that ends with a wary Zach deciding the Army is like, totally cool. Yikesssssss. Talk about some war propaganda during breakfast. I’d hate to live in a world where ‘growing world peace’ is seen as a bad thing. I guess the threat of nuclear war and a corporate 1% dystopia (yo what up Hunger Games!) is a sunnier world than people worried about the reality of world peace. YUCK.
The kids also tell us on numerous occasions to “not smoke dope.” I mean, it’s annoying, but do you remember high school? It was chock full of “abortion kills” bumper stickers, pledges to not drink alcohol until 21 and threats that weed would murder your soul and your family, instead of just make you hungry and giggly. Then you got to college and smoked the first thing someone handed to you, and realized that high school was a tiny bubble of fascists just trying to fit in. Awwwww.
The SBTB kids listen to tapes, fight over Paula Abdul vs. Janet Jackson, and can actually afford snacks at the movies. Jerks!
There’s also a lot of diversity that isn’t stereotypical. Lisa is a fashionista black girl and Slater is a iron-pumping latino who both don’t fall into the all too often played racial or cultural stereotypes. Granted, I haven’t seen every episode of this show. But it does suck to notice that 2 decades later dumbass stereotypes haven’t been erased. Somehow, I blame Dick Cheney.
The role of Mr. Belding is also interesting to watch. After a Bush decade of education budget cuts, a terrible generation of children and general educative tomfoolery, I could NEVER see a principal act the way he does with students as Mr. Belding did. Granted, it was a TV show. But any principal on TV nowadays would probably be some portrayed as a huge asshole who’s fucking some “slut” teenager for drug money. So bleak. I wish we were bored with world peace again. In the 90s, Zach offers to wash Belding’s car to get out of detention. In this day and age, students’ parents would sue Mr. Belding for ‘abuse.’ God I hate people.
On a lighter note and shying away from apparent societal (tv) decay, the fashion is AMAZING. I want Kelly and Lisa’s wardrobe, and Jessie’s for when I wanna workout/lounge around. Screech has some pretty amazing outfits too.
Jessie is a staunch feminist. And it is fucking AWESOME.
All in all, I’d say put it on in the background at parties, or in the background of an afternoon on the internet. In terms of observing American television from the late 80s/early 90s, it is a fascinating look into what the world on television was like when we were babies.
Just do it. Zach would. So would Kelly.