A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Saved by the Bell is a reboot of the original late 1980s/early '90s kids' sitcom. It brings back a few of the original characters (nice to see you again, Slater and Jessie!), now middle-aged adults, and introduces a new cast of young characters, who are diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, gender identity, body type, and socioeconomic status. These differences are discussed honestly, and no one is mocked for being who they are. An openly trans character is one of the most popular students at school, and a talented girl plays football on the boys' team. Rich, privileged students are helped to understand that others come from a more marginalized background, and they take care to give these classmates the help they need to succeed. Sexual content is more mature than in the original show: Along with flirting, dating, kissing, and references to girlfriends/boyfriends, there are jokes about "nudie photos," "porno," and "skinny-dipping." One character tells another she's "d--kmatized" by an attractive classmate. Language includes "ass," "hell," "damn," and "bitch," as well as "sucks," "d--k," and "crappy." In an off-screen prank, one character is said to have "drugged" another's toothpaste in order to make him late to school. Adults are present and caring, including a principal who genuinely wants his students to succeed and a coach and counselor who are ready to provide any help students need.
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What's the story?
Formerly a Saturday morning kids' show about the jocks, the nerds, the cool kids, and the grinds at Bayside High, this SAVED BY THE BELL reboot is kicked into action when Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gossellar), now the governor of California, attempts to balance the state budget by cutting $10 billion from education. Struggling schools are promptly shuttered, leaving many students with nowhere to attend classes. Zack's solution? Bus the kids to schools in neighborhoods that pay high property taxes instead, including his own beloved alma mater, Bayside High. Now Bayside's administration, including counselor Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley) and P.E. teacher/football coach A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez), has to find a way to teach a new crop of not-so-privileged students, who care about more than dates and pranks. Chief among them: Daisy (Haskiri Velazquez), who takes over Zack's fourth wall-breaking direct-to-camera addresses; Devante (Dexter Darden), a talented singer who's mistaken for a tough guy; and Aisha (Alycia Pascual-Peña), a female football player who's simply thrilled to be at her fancy new school.
Is it any good?
Self-mocking and pleasantly tart, this satirical reboot provides a fitting second life for a show that was mostly enjoyed ironically even in its late '80s/early '90s heyday. The Saved by the Bell reboot is smart and sly enough to understand the goofy place that the original played on television (and in the lives of its fans), and to subvert the original's simple-minded plotlines with real-world perspective. Daisy is flabbergasted on her first day when her appointed "Bayside buddy," Mack (Mitchell Hoog), the spiritual successor to ultra-cool Zack, is able to download all his school books by scanning a QR code on his phone. Daisy, equipped only with a decidedly non-smart mobile brick phone, wonders, "What if I don't have one of those?" "Don't have?" Mack responds quizzically. "What's that?"
Things are just as mystifying for the other new-to-Bayside characters. Devante is astonished when more Bayside students sign up for the artisanal bath bomb club than the football team; Aisha is confused that so many of her classmates look, well, odd. "Is it just me or are the seniors at this school really old-looking?" she inquires of Lexie, an openly transgender classmate (played by real-life trans actor and former Disney Channel stalwart Josie Totah), who already has her own reality show. "It's just you," says Lexie, who's too busy thinking up a new scheme in her ongoing friendly power struggle with Mack to care much about either the question or the answer. It's all very amusing and self-aware, not to mention lots of fun; but that's not the best part of the new Saved by the Bell. The best is the thread of sweetness that runs through the show. Even while Zack and Lexie are self-obsessed and ridiculous, they actually care about making their new classmates feel at home. So does the administration, which works hard to unify its student body. "It's our job to make space for every kid at Bayside so they can become a healthy and mature adult," sums up Jessie. Watching the teachers do just that, and the students fitting in and finding their voice, is a pleasure, it turns out, and so is this show.
Talk to your kids about ...
Many shows that were once popular on TV are getting modern remakes: Fuller House, Charmed, One Day at a Time. Why? Do these shows have a built-in audience or appeal? How do the shows change when they are remade or rebooted? Are all the changes for the better?
Families can also talk about the messages that this show sends to teens. Are these characters -- both teens and adults -- realistic? Do they face relatable issues and deal with them in believable ways? What would the real-life consequences of their behavior be?
Did you watch Saved by the Bell when it first aired? If so, does that increase how likely you are to watch and enjoy this show? Or is it made to appeal to new fans? How much "fan service" (i.e., including elements that will mostly be enjoyed by people who are already fans) does it perform?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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