The latest cover of Saved by the Bell is quite strange. But so was the original Saturday morning show about a group of perfectly clean kids in an affluent, crisp high school.
Bayside is kind of that bubble, said executive producer Tracey Wigfield, where it’s a bunch of weird, clueless kids who never have real issues.
Kids like this are definitely back in this sequel, which begins airing Wednesday on NBCUniversals Peacock. But they’re joined by kids from across the tracks, sort of. And by a few members of the original cast, 1989-93.
Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) is the governor of California, an office for which he ran to get out of a parking ticket. It has cut billions of dollars from the state education budget, forcing a high school in a less favored area to close and students being bused to wealthy Bayside High. They are fish out of the water in a school that apparently hasn’t changed much in the past 30 years.
Wigfield, who won an Emmy for 30 Rock and also wrote and produced The Mindy Project and Great News, took this approach to the SBB rebirth: it’s about the kids from that other school entering this weird Bayside bubble. and being, like, hey, this the place is really weird. And respond to them like they’re stepping into that original ’90s show.
Zack and his wife, Kelly (Tiffani Thiessen), appear briefly, and there are cameos of a few other familiar faces. Two of the original cast are regulars Slater (Mario Lopez) is the football coach and Jessie (Elizabeth Berkley) is the guidance counselor. And there’s a certain nostalgia that will appeal to older people who grew up watching Saved by the Bell.
But that fades pretty quickly as attention turns to the new generation of college students, including Zack and Kellys ‘son Mac (Mitchell Hoog), who is as smarmy as his dad, and Jessies’ son. Jamie (Belmont Cameli), who isn’t exactly brilliant.
But there is a female character at the center of the story this time. Daisy (Haskiri Velazquez), a smart teenager who didn’t grow up with all the perks that Baysiders enjoys, is the one who breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience like Zack did in the original.
The character that really appears is the mean girl Lexi (Josie Totah), who steals all the scenes. A character like this would never have been in the original series shes trans, and that’s not a major plot point.
Wigfield and his team of writers attempt to pay homage to the original series and make fun of it at the same time. It’s the most meta of the various SBTB incarnations, which sometimes works and others don’t. What they’re trying to do is laugh with the fans of the original series, not laugh at them.
Were all in the same inner joke, Wigfield said. We all love Saved by the Bell.
The show has had an outsized presence in pop culture, with its 86 endless episodes in syndication and on cable for three decades.
It was just always, always. And I watched it every day after school, Wigfield said. Note that she was only 6 when the show premiered and 10 when the last episode aired.
She wouldn’t have been interested in rebooting another show, but it was so exciting because my fifth year loved me that show even though she admits it was really weird.
It was a very sanitized and safe version of high school, which I think was part of the appeal to me. But it was also really kind of cartoonish and wacky, Wigfield said. Were just starting at 100 miles an hour of madness. And it was so much fun for me and the staff to go back, watch all the old episodes, and think of them through a 2020 goal.