The 8 Most Shocking Things I Learned from “The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story”

18 Sep

Unauthorized Saved by the BellSaved by the Bell

Yes, I watched the Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story, and yes, I wrote it on my personal calendar so I wouldn’t forget. And yes, I still have a paper calendar and planner that I use at all times. Screw you and your modern technology! My planner tells me when all the full moons will be, and ALL of the time zones. Can your fancy phone do that?!? That’s what I thought.

All in all, the movie was kind of a let down. I wanted major drama. Like, I wanted orgies and heavy cocaine use and girl fights and steroids. I wanted it all! But the drama just wasn’t really there. On the bright side, it was completely worth watching because the acting was terrible, and the script was absurd. So I hate-watched it, and that was good enough for me. Like I always say – #YOLTWTO – You Only Live to Watch Television Once.

While there weren’t many mind-blowing facts that came out of this Lifetime tell-all, I still got a little educated, and I’m all about education. I present to you the 8 most shocking things I learned from the Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story:

1. Jennie Garth was one of the top choices to play Kelly Kapowski.

Jennie Garth

Did anyone tell Jennie that her eyebrows don’t match her hair?

What?!? Life, as we know it, could have been very different if instead of playing popular girl Kelly Taylor on Beverly Hills, 90210, Jennie Garth played popular girl Kelly Kapowski on SBTB instead. She may have never met Brandon OR Dylan, and that would have never led to starring in What I Like About You with Amanda Bynes. Instead, she would have dated Zack, and had prom outside because she was too poor to buy a dress, and then she would have landed a role on Beverly Hills, 90210 as Valerie. Things could have been drastically different, you guys. Count your lucky stars that the producers went with Tiffani Amber Thiessen. If they hadn’t picked her, Tiffany Thiessen may never had dropped the Amber!

Kelly Kapowski

The other crazy part of this was that Elizabeth Berkley auditioned for the Kelly Kapowski role too, but because she was so good, they created the feminist intellect of the group, Jessie Spano. Again, thank GOD. If Berkley hadn’t been cast, Showgirls may have never happened, and then what would we make fun of?

2. Slater was supposed to be Italian, Lisa was supposed to be Jewish, and Mark-Paul is half Indonesian.

In the most racist scenes of the Saved by the Bell story, we learn that A.C. Slater, played so chauvinistically and sportily by Mario Lopez, was supposed to be a hot-headed Italian boy. We also learn that Lisa “I Live to Shop” Turtle (Lark Voorhies) was supposed to be a Jewish American Princess, or “JAP,” as the true racists say. And, most shockingly, we learn that Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s mom manager (mom-ager) is Indonesian! Dustin Diamond says something classic to Mark-Paul like “I guess your hair missed the memo!” Good one, Screech. Young people making comments about the ethnicity of others, or lack there-of, is my favorite young people activity to watch.

Lisa Turtle

3. TV executives found it shocking that kids don’t want to watch a show about teachers.

Although I happily watched Good Morning, Miss Bliss, I was an anomaly among 6 year old children. I was fascinated with the love life of older people in sitcoms. When I was around 4 or 5, we were watching some comedy, and I said out loud in a room with my parents, “Why doesn’t she just sleep with him already?” about Bea Arthur or something. Not okay.

Good Morning, Miss Bliss sadly got cancelled after only one season, and the TV execs were STUNNED. They expected so much better for 1960’s teen heartthrob Hayley Mills. When some naive fool came around, suggesting that they re-focus the show on the teens, rather than the teachers, the execs were like “Have you been taking caffeine pills lately, because this idea is out of control!” And then they made the cut it out signal, invented by their pal Dave Coulier.

Dave Coulier

After some hoaxing, they decided to try again with the focus of the show being on the kids, rather than the adults, and BOOM! Instant classic. And they did it all without even having a sassy Jew or macho Italian!

4. Zack and Lisa had a thing going, but she was a Jehovah’s Witness, and that ruined everything.

And this is as far as Zack ever got.

This is as far as Zack ever got.

Young love is already complicated enough, but when you can’t even make out on the rooftop of the sound stage that you film in, then you are screwed. According to the movie, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Lark Voorhies were a hot item, but Lark was a Jehovah’s Witness, so she couldn’t get nasty with Mark-Paul. Girlfriend couldn’t even accept his birthday gifts! Mark-Paul was cool with it for a while, but then he had to practice kissing with Tiffani Amber, and all bets were off. He realized that he could get all his teenage dreams fulfilled by Tiffani Amber, and things with Lark went awry.

Side note – is it important that I give my child two first names in order for him to be a successful child actor in Hollywood? Because I will add 15 first names to my son’s birth certificate if that’s all it takes. If it takes talent and commitment,  I’m out.

5. Dustin Diamond was irritating, even as a young person.

diamond_dustin_1990

Since Saved by the Bell ended, Dustin Diamond has proven that he is pretty much a disgusting asshole. He made a sex tape called Screeched – Saved by the Smell, for godssakes! Though, I can’t hate him too much because his book, Behind the Bell, was the inspiration for the TV movie. So, his redeeming quality is that he wrote enough trash to attract Lifetime. It’s not the most generous compliment I’ve ever given someone, but you take what you can get. Anyway, I figured that Dustin was just another kid star who took too many drugs, couldn’t get work after his voice changed and he lost the lisp, and was resentful of Hollywood. All of that is true, but this movie also just made it look as though he was an awful human being from the get-go.

For instance, there is a scene where Jessie is rehearsing her famous speed pills moment (to have that much emotion, while wearing such a tight headband around all that hair should have won her an Emmy!), and Dustin laughs at her because she is talking about speed pills. I get it, Dustin. She is maybe over-acting a titch, since she’s not using cocaine or heroin or something. But sometimes you just need to go with the group, and cheer on your friend Elizabeth Berkley…. is something I always say. Dustin Diamond is just all around unpleasant seeming, and it made me happy that Lisa Turtle never wanted to date Screech. There. I said it.

6. Elizabeth Berkley was not the bitch of the group.

I never really liked Jessie Spano, and I feel bad about that. I liked Kelly. I know, you guys. I’m disappointed in myself, too. I have two things to say in my defense: 1. I was young, and Kelly had really pretty hair and dressed in jean shorts, like an 80’s princess. 2. Jessie seemed like a giant bitch. She was just so judge-y, and always calling Slater a pig (which he was), and hated everything, and was probably a vegetarian (except at The Max where they only served burgers).

How could I like her after this??

How could I like her after this??

Because her character had such a stick up her ass, I always imagined Elizabeth Berkley was a bi-atch in real life. But, no! She was the peacekeeper, actually! In all fairness, it didn’t seem like there was a lot of behind-the-scenes conflict, except with Dustin Diamond, but what little conflict came up was mediated by Elizabeth. Quelle surprise!

7. Kelly and Jessie left the show in the final season to pursue bigger and better jobs.

I definitely remember when bad girl Tori came around because she wore a leather jacket and did not give a damn. Not even a little. But what I didn’t remember, until this insightful docu-drama reminded me, is that suddenly Kelly and Jessie were never on the same episodes as her. They kind of just disappeared for long amounts of time, and then popped back in. Well, here’s what happened everybody – apparently, Tiffani Amber and Elizabeth felt like they needed to spread their wings and look for better acting jobs. They weren’t just a beautiful, popular volleyball player and a brainy feminist pill-popping dancer, they were SERIOUS ACTORS.

Kelly and Jessie

Unfortunately, Kelly Kapowski and Jessie Spano had a hard time finding work because casting agents could only think of them as Kelly and Jessie (like I did just a second ago when I wrote their character’s names instead of their real names. Really it’s because Tiffani-Amber takes forever to write). They had already filmed some episodes that were thrown in during the awkward Tori season, which is why we still saw Kelly and Jessie from time to time. Tiffani-Amber and Elizabeth were invited back to film the graduation episode, and they seemed pretty relieved to be working again. At least, according to the Lifetime movie I watched about it.

Look at all that attitude!

Look at all that attitude!

8. The women cast members shopped together, and when they did, they spoke with common people (i.e. fans), which led to the most famous SBTB scene of all-time.

I’ve referenced already how much the cast, especially Elizabeth and Tiffani-Amber, wanted to be taken seriously. So seriously, in fact, that they show a scene where the girls are all out shopping together, and run into some fans. The fan-girls tell them how much the show means to them, and that they are their role models, so on and so forth. Jessie’s all like, “We’re your personal heroes, you say?” Elizabeth interprets their tween excitement for meaningful conversation, which is good, because she uses that as ammo to get the producers to give her a serious plot-line.

I will now end this post with one of the most glorious scenes in all of television history. I still reference it, and act it out, at least once a month, whenever I get so excited that I’m a little scared.

 

 

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