Peacock’s ‘Saved by the Bell’ is a Delightful Return to the 90’s Classic

It’s a Saturday morning in 2005, you’re in your pjs watching Saved by Bell reruns on TBS and just like always, Zack is one step ahead of Principal Belding. Wish you could relive the fun? Now you can, because the Saved by the Bell reboot has finally arrived on Peacock.

Released on Nov. 25, Saved by the Bell (2020), created by Sam Broderick and Tracey Wigfield, is a more inclusive, modern take on the classic teen sitcom. In this new series, Daisy (Haskiri Velazquez) and her best friend Aisha (Alicia Pascual-Pena), along with the other students at Douglas High, are forced to transfer to Bayside after Governor Zack Morris’s (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) unfortunate public education budget cuts. Thankfully, there to make their transition a bit easier, are former students Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley) and A.C Slater (Mario Lopez) — who are now the guidance counselor and gym teacher/football coach.

Upon arriving at Bayside, Daisy and Aisha are set up with best friends Mac Morris (Mitchell Hoog) and Jaime Spano (Belmont Cameli) to be their “Bayside buddies” and show them around the school. While Aisha is pleased to have Jaime as her buddy due to his good looks and their mutual love of football, Daisy loathes Mac because he is rich, stuck up and his father is the primary reason her whole life was uprooted. Mac and Jaime are also close friends with Lexi (Josie Totah) who is the lead in all of the school musicals. Lexi unexpectedly makes a new friend in Devante (Dexter Darden), a former jock who decides to reinvent himself at Bayside and join her in the musical.

The premise of the show was a pleasant switch-up from the typical sitcom. Being that the series takes place in the Los Angeles suburbs there was a lot of opportunity for diversity which could have been utilized more in the 1989 version. In the reboot, students from Bayside like Lexi live in the same neighborhood as celebrities while students from Douglas such as Daisy, live less than an hour away but can’t even afford to have their own laptops. By introducing a group of friends made up of teens from both the lower class and the one percent, the series throws a wrench in the typical sitcom setup which is most often set in a middle-class suburb with little apparent socio-economic diversity.

As I had hoped for, watching the show gave me a chance to relive the old Bayside experience. First off, just like in the original Saved by the Bell, an unlikely group of teens become close and choose to spend their free time hanging out at “The Max” eating burgers and drinking milkshakes together. We are also once again gifted with Slater’s signature dance moves in the episode, “House Party” when Jessie sends Slater to shut down Jamie’s party but he joins the fun instead. Plus, there is even a surprise appearance by the fabulous Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies) in episode 8.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the first ten episodes of Saved by the Bell (2020) from start to finish, I will not say that it is better than the original — and that’s not just because I was missing Screech and Mr. Belding (which I was). I will, however, say that it is different, making me less anxious to compare the two. I appreciated that the reboot did not attempt to replace the original, but rather allowed us fans to return to Bayside 30 years later. Peacock’s Saved by the Bell (2020) is the light at the end of a disastrous year and a look to a brighter, more inclusive future. Definitely do yourself a favor and watch this delightful series.

Saved by the Bell (2020) is available to watch on Peacock.

By Blair Krassen @blairlyawake

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