‘Saved By The Bell’ Apologizes To Selena Gomez Following Backlash Over Kidney Transplant Jokes
Saved by the apology. The Saved By The Bell reboot dropped its first season on Nov. 25. While it initially received positive feedback from viewers, two clips from the Peacock series went viral on Nov. 28 because of its focus on Selena Gomez’s 2017 kidney transplant.
The show referenced the star’s transplant in a joking way that Gomez’s fans felt had crossed a line. “RESPECT SELENA GOMEZ” started trending globally on Twitter, with people slamming the reboot for making fun of the procedure Gomez needed following complications from Lupus.
Fans of the “Rare” singer demanded an apology, although Gomez did not comment on the show herself. Later on Nov. 28, Peacock, UTV, and Saved By The Bell executive producers issued a statement regarding the backlash.
Peacock and ‘Saved By The Bell’ EPs apologized to Gomez
The statement from Peacock, NBC’s streaming service, revealed that the company had been in contact with Gomez’s team.
“We apologize,” the statement to E! News said. “It was never our intention to make light of Selena’s health. We have been in touch with her team and will be making a donation to her charity, The Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research at USC.”
The Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research was set up by the Wizards of Waverly Place alum in March 2017. The star donated money to fund a pilot program at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. In a statement regarding the fund, Gomez said she hoped the research would help the school’s research into Lupus treatments.
“I continue to be optimistic about the progress being made in lupus research and am proud to support the promising work at the Keck School of Medicine,” Gomez said. “I am hopeful for the millions of us around the world that may benefit from this.”
What did the ‘Saved By The Bell’ reboot say about Selena Gomez’s kidney transplant?
The sixth episode of the Saved By The Bell reboot’s first season, titled “Teen-Line,” features two jokes about Gomez’s transplant. In the first clip, two characters are fighting in the Bayside High hallway. The scene was seemingly intended to be a humorous example of teen fangirls debating over their favorite celebrity theories, but Gomez’s fans noted the show could have poked fun at something other than Gomez’s health.
“Now, I know for a fact that Selena Gomez’s kidney donor was Justin Bieber’s mom,” one character says in the clip, bringing up Gomez’s most famous ex. “God, I wish that I had my phone so that I could prove it.”
As her friend replies, “Prove what, that you’re an idiot? It was Demi Lovato’s kidney! They’re best friends, like you and I were.”
In another scene later in the episode, two other characters are seen reconciling among the chaotic halls of the school. There’s trash scattered everywhere and graffiti all over the walls. One piece of graffiti reads, “Does Selena Gomez even have a kidney?”
The clips prompted thousands of tweets criticizing the series, and a Change.org petition to get the show canceled was even created.
Francia Raisa reacted to Peacock’s apology to Selena Gomez
Gomez’s kidney donor was grown-ish star Francia Raisa. The two have been friends for years, and Gomez spoke publicly about the life-saving sacrifice Raisa made for her.
Raisa herself responded to the apology from Peacock on Twitter on Nov. 28, noting that kidney donors likely also felt insulted by Saved By The Bell‘s insensitivity.
“Appreciate the apology but let’s not forget about the donors that potentially felt offended and dismissed from the spray paint written on the wall,” she wrote.
In another tweet, the star said, “As a kidney donor I want to show love and let other donors know that you are not alone. You are seen. You are appreciated. You are so brave and your selfless act is very much appreciated and valued!”
Fans of the Rare Beauty founder and Raisa tweeted words of support to The Secret Life of the American Teenager alum.
“You literally saved a life donating your kidney to selena and for them to make fun of it like that it’s really low, disgusting and disrespectful,” one fan wrote. “I’m glad u are making your voice heard.”
Gomez has yet to publicly respond to the joke, the subsequent backlash, and Peacock’s apology.