Friday, October 5, 2018

Saved By The Bell is shockingly politically incorrect...

It's Friday!  And since it's Friday, I'm going to write about something fun.  Some time ago, I mentioned that I started following the hilarious YouTube web series, Zack Morris is Trash.  Last week, a new episode was uploaded and I realized I wouldn't mind watching old episodes of Saved By The Bell.  Yes, this is how boring things can get when you live on the edge of the Black Forest with all the other nuts.

For real.

Anyway, before I knew it, I was downloading all of the seasons of Saved By The Bell.  I only watch a couple of episodes at a time, because that's about all I can stand.  I should also mention that although the actors that were on the original incarnation of Saved By The Bell are close to my age,  that show was kind of aimed at people younger than me.  It originally aired on Disney, then was added to NBC on Saturday mornings.  When the most popular incarnation debuted, I was already 17 years old and no longer watching Saturday morning TV.

I first became acquainted with Saved By The Bell when I was in college.  I had a couple of male friends who watched it only so they could look at Tiffani Thiessen (then known as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen).  She played a pretty, nice, and winsome cheerleader named Kelly Kapowski.  Everybody wanted to get into Kelly's pants.  Elizabeth Berkley, who played pretty brainy girl Jessie Spano, had auditioned for the role of Kelly, but the powers that be decided she'd be better as a feminist type.  My male friends didn't like the character of Jessie, although Elizabeth Berkley went on to play a stripper in Showgirls.  Like a lot of men, my guy friends preferred a hot woman who didn't challenge them to be sensitive to other people.  Kelly's character kept sweet while looking "hot".  She was the one the guys liked, except when she got feisty.  Jessie was chopped liver because she was too mouthy and opinionated.

I remember my first impressions of Saved By The Bell weren't all that favorable.  It's a very low budget production with truly hideous background music played on synthesizers.  The music alone should have been enough to turn me off.  It's just that cheesy.  But then I started watching and realized that the "kids" on the show were kind of fun to watch.  It wasn't long before I had seen every episode multiple times.  Imagine that-- I haven't seen a single episode of Game of Thrones or Orange Is The New Black, or any of the other hit programs my friends are talking about.  But I've seen every episode of Saved By The Bell.  I've also seen every episode of The Brady Bunch, The Golden Girls, and The Cosby Show.  What can I say?  I'm hopelessly mired in the last century's television offerings.

So... for the past week, I've been watching episodes of Saved By The Bell and, I have to admit, it kind of makes me cringe.  I'm no fan of being overly PC, but I had forgotten how unPC things were in the late 80s and early 90s.  For instance, A.C. Slater, played by Mario Lopez, is portrayed as a nice guy who can't stop himself from repeatedly calling females "chicks" and "babes".  Although Jessie corrects Slater, she also dates him.

Then there's Lisa Turtle, played by Lark Voorhies.  Lisa is supposedly a "fashionista", although a lot of her outfits were pretty horrible.  She's mean as a snake to Screech, played by Dustin Diamond.  Meanwhile, Screech is constantly harassing her, trying to kiss her, asking her out on dates, and just generally being a nuisance.  I try to imagine the reaction today's audiences would have, watching this unfold.  Seems like there would be outrage.

God help the "nerds" on this show, who are always depicted as hopelessly socially addled.  Look beyond the goofy clothes, big glasses, and annoying laughs and you'll see that even the nerds are "beautiful", although like everyone else on Saved By The Bell, they were hampered by a really cheap and ugly wardrobe.

Zack Morris, played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar, is portrayed as the quintessential "cool kid".  I suspect he was sort of fashioned after Ferris Bueller, the title character in the 80s hit film, Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  Unfortunately, teenaged Mark-Paul Gosselaar does not have the same acting chops Matthew Broderick had, nor were the writers as clever and witty as the late John Hughes was.  Consequently, Zack Morris comes off as less cool than he is a self-centered asshole.  And yet, he still has loyal friends who love him, even though he's constantly scheming and trying to screw them over so he can make a quick buck.

Zack is constantly foiling Principal Richard Belding (see what they did there?), played by Dennis Haskins, and yet Belding likes Zack, who is forever disrupting things at school and making Belding look stupid.  Belding is no Mr. Rooney.  He's a good principal who loves the kids of Bayside High.  And yet, they're constantly making him look like a bumbling fool.  Instead of commanding respect, he continually falls for the gags.

I read up a bit on Peter Engel, who was the mastermind behind Saved By The Bell.  Engel was raised Jewish, but later became a devout Christian.  He even taught at Pat Robertson's Regent University for a year.  I read that swearing on the set was banned, although they had no qualms about having the male characters treat the girls like objects.  I also read Dustin Diamond's tell all book, Behind the Bell, although I think my review has faded off into Internet oblivion.  Maybe I'll read it again so I can post an updated review.  I love trashy tell alls... although I think I gave away Screech's book because it was just that bad.  I seem to remember Diamond commenting on Peter Engel, though, and basically saying that the guy was an extreme Christian.

I did have to laugh at this "flashback" from 2015.  I don't think Mario Lopez has aged at all.

As I was watching yesterday, I couldn't help reflecting on how sad it is that I'm in my 40s, watching Saved By The Bell.  Time has really flown and what have I got to show for it besides a silly post about a show I was too old for when it originally aired.

Ah well...

I was hoping we'd have travel plans this weekend, but I never could manage to find appropriate lodging in the Wiesbaden area.  We did contact a potential landlord about a house, though, so we are hoping to visit next weekend, dogs in tow.  I reserved a place last night, but the apartment owner has already asked what kind of dogs Zane and Arran are.  Edited to add: I had to cancel the reservation because apparently beagles are "too big" for the apartment.  I think that's likely bullshit, but whatever.  I wish people who prefer not to rent to people with dogs would just say "no dogs" from the get go.  It would save time and prevent disappointment.  Fortunately, I have found a pet friendly hotel where dogs are welcome.

And the prospective landlord has indicated that only friendly dogs are allowed, which Zane and Arran definitely are... but that makes me wonder if he's planning to visit constantly.  If so, it's a pass.  I want to see if he likes dogs, though.  I'd rather not live in a house where my dogs are tolerated rather than liked.  Sigh...  It's time to buy my own fucking house... and get a job.  :D


  1. When one of my cousins was stationed in Iraq god only knows how long ago, the guy who played the teacher/next-door neighbor Ms. Belden visited their location. My cousin went into the bathroom to shave and shower to find the Mr. Belden actor shaving in front of the mirror. The commanders and other older guys couldn't have cared less, but my cousin said the younger guys were xcited to see him. It doesn't take much to make your day when you're in a war zone, apparently.
    My cousin said he was very nice.

    1. That poor man has become morbidly obese.

      My dad once found himself peeing next to Bruce Hornsby. But he’s from Williamsburg, VA and that’s where my parents had gone to see a movie. I think it was Tin Cup with Rene Russo, back in the 90s.


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