Kudos to developer Tracey Wigfield and the creative team for making Saved by the Bell season two even better than the debut season. And that’s saying something, because I really enjoyed watching the first season.
Similar to the previous season, Saved by the Bell season 2 consisted of 10 episodes (with each episode being approximately 24 minutes long). With the debut season’s finale ending on a cliffhanger about the pandemic, I appreciated how the second season handled the students coming back to Bayside High. Instead of exploiting the pandemic, the series addressed students missing out on usual high school stuff in the premiere episode and then moved on to other things.
I really liked seeing the writers take such an approach. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of TV shows dragging the pandemic storyline. We are already dealing with it in real life. There’s no need to force every fictional character to go through similar experiences. Let the Bayside High students live in their weird world (where certain laws of space and time don’t always apply). The premiere episode also had a tribute to Screech, who was played by the late Dustin Diamond in the original series.
After establishing what the young main cast wanted in the first season, the second season decided to take certain accomplishments away or make them face something unexpected. Who is Aisha (Alycia Pascual-Peña) if she can’t be a football player? Can Daisy (Haskiri Velazquez) balance all of her school and activism work with a new love interest? Does Mac (Mitchell Hoog) have it in him to step out of his father’s shadow still covering Bayside High? Can Lexi (Josie Totah) open up about her feelings for Jamie (Belmont Cameli)? And a lot more!
The themes explored in the second season of Saved by the Bell included divorce, feeling inadequate when dating someone rich, transphobia, the importance of queer-inclusive spaces, standing up for what you believed in, emotional wellbeing, being present for your friends, and the list goes on. Saved by the Bell is a comedy show that has something to say. Certain comics, still stuck in the old ways of their so-called comedy routines, can learn a thing or two from this show.
Following the style of the first season, numerous issues got resolved in single episodes. The episode about Lexi (a privileged young teen) facing transphobia and feeling she should do something about it was hilarious and made several points. I also liked the episode where Devante (Dexter Darden) had to set some boundaries with his new girlfriend because he wasn’t rich like her.
With Lexi and Jamie now being a couple, Lexi’s relationship with Aisha was also handled well. There’s no reason for TV shows to continue showing girls fighting each other to win the affection of another boy. It’s boring.
A couple of narrative arcs continued throughout the season as the ten episodes had the young cast get ready to compete in the Spirit Competition with Valley High School. I liked how Jamie finally figured out what he brought to the group (he’s so adorable). We also got a plot thread exploring Aisha’s bisexuality and her crush on Chole. The tension between Daisy, Mac, and Daisy’s new boyfriend Gil cumulated into an enjoyable (yet predictable) conclusion.
And of course, Saved by the Bell season two didn’t hesitate to drag numerous celebrities and problematic people with witty one-liners. No one is safe from this show’s writing team and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
One of the things I really like about this show is how it allows young high school students to act like young high school students. They all have insecurities they need to work on and goals they want to reach. These characters have more going on in their lives than just being embroiled in continuous romantic relationship drama.
I’m not saying teens shouldn’t be allowed to go through relationship woes. It’s part of growing up, after all. My point is that using romantic relationship drama as the sole reason to give characters something to react to leads to clichéd storytelling. Think bigger, writers. Expand your horizons to help you create more fleshed-out characters.
Along with the young cast, the OG cast members also got time to shine. Kelly (Tiffani Thiessen) decided to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor, Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) tried to find something new to do, while Jessie (Elizabeth Berkley Lauren) and Slater (Mario Lopez) worked on exploring their decades-long feelings for each other. The season allowed Slater to go to therapy and work on certain issues. It was also nice to see Lisa (Lark Voorhies), even if it was in a limited capacity.
All 10 episodes of Saved by the Bell season 2 were released on Peacock on November 24, 2021. From well-written queer representation to smart jokes and engrossing storylines, I have my fingers crossed the series gets renewed for a third outing soon!
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Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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