A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that adolescent kissing is prevalent, as are references to heavy petting, which means it's up to them to decide whether tweens are mature enough to understand the significance of this behavior. The sarcastic remarks and mild insults constantly aimed at Screech sometimes border on mean. There are sanitized discussions of major teen issues such as peer pressure, drunk driving, and drug abuse.
What's the story?
Surviving a variety of incarnations, SAVED BY THE BELL is a positive series about school, friends, and lessons learned. The show offers a world that reflects the ultimate high school experience, as seen through the eyes of Zack. At Bayside High, Zack, Screech, and Lisa are joined by good-looking transfer student A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez), sweet Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani Thiessen), and intellectual over-achiever Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley). The Bayside clique is a diverse but tight-knit social circle that most junior and senior high school students can only dream about. Plots range from the silly (Zack and Slater bet on who can kiss a girl the longest), to the romantic (Zack skips the prom when girlfriend Kelly can't afford to attend), all the way to the serious (underage drinking and driving, and pill addiction).
Is it any good?
It's all pretty cheesy, but it's also well-intentioned. At the end of each show, lessons are learned -- lessons that are often guided by Principal Belding or, when dealing with more major issues, a parent. The show's adults, while often presented more as caricatures than real people, are respected and are received as mentors by the kids. But as is the case with most average teens, sexual innuendos (albeit innocent ones) and mild profanity are an integral part of the Bayside teens' lingo. While the significance of these words clearly goes over the head of most young children, they're clear enough for preteens to understand. Saved by the Bell offers an opportunity for viewers to watch relatively good kids learn from their mistakes and grow from the process.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the value of friendship, as well as how to cope when friends are the source of peer pressure. Have your teen's friends ever landed them in a tricky situation? Because the series presents an idealized picture of high school, families can also discuss how difficult high school can be in real life. How is your teen's school different from Bayside? Boy/girl relationships, boundaries, and inappropriate behavior are also topics that families may want to talk about.