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‘Saved by the Bell’: 3 Things You Didn’t Notice About the Show When You Were a Kid, but Would Now

'Saved by the Bell' became an iconic television show in the 1990s. The reboot is a good reminder of just how popular the show was. If you look back on it, though, the original series had some seriously problematic behavior. Mr. Belding didn't behave well, Zack harassed the girls, and the entire group was mean to Screech.

Saved by the Bell, on the surface, was a pretty innocuous show. At least, it seemed that way to teens back when it premiered. The show followed the life of Zack Morris and his friends as they figured out how to get through school and navigate romances and friendships. Now, though, there are elements of the hit 1990s show that were certainly problematic. Can you spot these three problems now that you can look back on the series? 

Mr. Belding got way too involved in the personal lives of some of his students 

Mr. Belding, at first glance, seemed like a perfectly nice, if not a bit goofy, high school principal. His desire to fit in with the kids he was supposed to be guiding seemed a bit misguided, but through the 1990s lens, it seemed innocent enough. Was it innocent, though? When you look at it today, Mr. Belding was kind of creepy and overstepped some serious boundaries. 

The cast of 'Saved by the Bell', Mario Lopez, Dennis Haskins, Lark Voorhies, Tiffani Thiessen, Elizabeth Berkley and Mark-Paul Gosselaar pose for a promotional photo
the original cast of ‘Saved by the Bell’ | NBCU Photo Bank

Buzzfeed points out that Mr. Belding spent much of his day hanging out inside the Boy’s bathroom. Viewers must wonder why he would decide to hang out in a restroom when he had his office, and the entire school to roam. Presumably, Belding hung out there because he thought he’d catch up on the latest school gossip. His lack of respect for privacy was troubling. He also involved himself in teen romance drama and even showed up to hang out in Zack’s bedroom once. Such behavior would have gotten him fired today. 

When Saved by the Bell premiered, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who played Zack, was considered a heartthrob. Because of his looks, Zack was portrayed as a flirtatious teen who loved the ladies. There is nothing wrong with flirtation, and Zack’s interest in girls was certainly age-appropriate, but the way he went about it would be problematic today. 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar appears as Zack Morris in season 2 of 'Saved by the Bell'
Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris | Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

If you take Zack’s behavior and view it through a 2021 lens, any principal would have expelled Zack for predatory behavior. During the show’s four-season run, Zack and his pals took photos of swimsuit-clad co-eds without their knowledge. He refused to take no for an answer, incessantly pestering girls who were not interested in him, and regularly created potentially dangerous situations to get attention. A lot of what Zack did to get girls’ attention was sexual harassment.  

The entire group bullied Screech Powers 

Screech Powers was the nerdy pal that the group kept around. In the 1990s, people considered Zack and his friends nice for including Screech. The working theory back then was that Screech should appreciate the attention from the popular kids. That type of thinking is toxic but certainly wasn’t uncommon for teen shows in the late 90s. Today, we’d recognize the situation for what it is; Screech was relentlessly bullied by his “friends.”

Lisa Turtle, Kelly Kapowski, Jessie Spano, Screech Powers, Zack Morris and A.C. Slater stand in Screech's bedroom as they figure out how to address a serious problem in season 2 of 'Saved by the Bell'
The cast of ‘Saved by the Bell’ | Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

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Zack constantly used Screech to his benefit, and A.C. Slater and the girls weren’t much better about it. Any time Screech tried to stand up for himself, Zack, Slater, and the rest of his friends brushed off his feelings. Overall, the entire gang, including Belding, was awful to Screech, and the extras who made up the “nerds” of the school, come to think of it.