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Ten Things I Learned Re-Watching ‘Saved by the Bell’

Highly recommend you do it this weekend, by the way

08.19.16
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I have an all-too-clear memory of my younger self, tripping over furniture in a ritual race against the bell. I had to make it in time. I had to get to Bayside High. It was there that my friends Zach, Slater, Jesse, Lisa and Screech would be waiting for me.

Back then, my approach to Saved by the Bell was as shallow as Slater’s love for Kelly: My prepubescent infatuation with the NBC sitcom began and ended at Zach Morris’s forearm cuffed sleeve. I couldn’t allow myself to see the show for what it really was: a sea of pastel geometric patterns run by a principal whose governing style most closely resembled what I imagine Mr. Smee running The Lost Boys might look like.

When Hulu acquired the streaming rights to Saved by the Bell earlier this year, older fans were given the opportunity to consume the show in an entirely different way — quickly and in Olive Garden-size portions. While I will admit that I choked on the cheeseball attitude from time to time, re-(binge)-watching Saved by the Bell did provide for some reflective insight.

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The years since Saved by the Bell ended have not treated Dustin Diamond kindly. But even back when Screech was just a chia pet-haired nerd hopelessly devoted to his friends and a rotary of nipple grazing pants, Lisa Turtle still wouldn’t entertain the thought of them together. In Lisa’s rejection of Screech’s invitation to the dance, she teaches us all a lesson about delayed gratification and the importance of holding your cards close to your chest – nay, heart.

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Jesse didn’t earn the nickname Mama for no reason. Jesse was beautiful, intelligent and singlehandedly led the Feminist fight at Bayside High. Her legs were also of Amazonian proportions, a fact she seemed none to proud of in Episode 1, “Dancing to the Max.” Zach Morris’s advice to Jesse? Take pride in your height, wear your heels, and if anybody objects, step on them.

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Donald Trump would not be our Republican Presidential nominee, Taylor Swift would still be #famous for all the right reasons, and I would use the time, personally, to scroll through risky Instagram accounts that I otherwise avoid in fear of accidentally liking old photos.

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Career week at Bayside High threw Slater into a junior high-level depression. He didn’t want to be that un-six-packed guy at the bar, lamenting on his school days as a star athlete. But Sensei Morris exposed career week for what it truly was: a deceptive and premature nudge into adulthood. Kids, go home. Hug your parents. Promise to love them forever. Get reacquainted with their basement. Maybe watch Saved by the Bell reruns on Hulu.

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I realized something in my re-watching of Saved by the Bell, and it was that Zach Morris was addicted to gambling. Nearly every storyline of the first season’s 13 episodes went something like this:

Zach Morris makes a bet at the expense of his friends.
Zach Morris loses bet, disappoints friends.
Zach Morris feels remorse, sacrifices his winnings to the morality gods.

Worse than my disappointment of this realization was discovering that Zach Morris was indeed, a brunette. He dyed his hair blonde every two weeks but that is neither here nor there. As Zach’s harshest critic, Mr. Belding so acutely put it, “Gambling is a no no.”

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Sensei Morris strikes again! I love this nugget of wisdom. Times flies when you look at Monday through Friday as just five extra days to plan your Saturday night.

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You might recall the Saved by the Bell episode “The Mamas and the Papas,” in which members of the gang were married (ceremony officiated by Belding, naturally) in a last-ditch effort to teach the kids about life, economics and difficult decision-making.

With Zach and Slater married to Kelly and Jesse, respectively, there was no obscuring the issue of their blatant misogyny. When asked by Jesse whether he ever heard of the women’s movement, Slater replied, “Sure! Put on something cute and move it into the kitchen!”

Zach proudly announced that his idea of a wife’s work was, “at home, watching The Young and the Restless.

Slater expected Jesse to have dinner on the table despite the fact that they both worked and Zach maintained that all of him and Kelly’s marital problems could best be solved “with kissing.” But the most LOL statement of the episode came courtesy of Mr. Belding, who presented this real life scenario to the faux couple: “A tearful Kelly has just wrecked Zach’s car. Zach, how do you respond?” Le sigh.

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When prom is the epicenter of your teenage life and your dad loses his job, you make like Kelly Kapowski and return your dress money for the greater good. There will be other school dances, birthday dinners, galas, Oscar ceremonies, what have you. Besides, denim on denim trumps taffeta any day.

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This comes from the most #rideordie Saved by the Bell crew member of all: Screech.

Dustin Diamond was not invited to the Jimmy Fallon reunion, due to strained relationships with the rest of the cast.

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If Isabel Marant, Louis Vuitton and Kenzo have anything to do with it, 1985 will be making a giant shoulder pad of a comeback in 2017. Who better to throw it back to the Flashdance generation than Lisa Turtle?

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Feature photograph by Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images; carousel photograph by Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank; side by side featuring Isabel Marant Fall ’16 via Vogue Runway; slides designed by Emily Zirimis.

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  • Those million dollar smiles though

  • CameronY

    Yay Hulu! I must binge watch some. Have you heard about the Go Bayside! podcast? It’s an episode by episode breakdown with hilarious commentary. I listen to it while working out and look like a crazy person cracking up while at the gym or walking the neighborhood!!

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