Posted at 5:00 AM Nov 10, 2008
By Jennifer Mathieu
As a lady of a certain age, I spent too many of my teen years zoning out to Saved by the Bell on Saturday morning. As a young adult, I spent much of my twenties drunk and watching reruns of said show on TBS and other stations. But despite watching countless hours of Zack, Kelly, and the gang, there were some questions that were never answered, and I find that years later I still ponder them. (Hey, some people study particle physics. Others of us study the inner-workings of teen feminist Jessie Spano. Is that so wrong?) So here now are the top 10 things I never understood about the greatest show to ever air on network television.
10. Why Didn't Mr. Belding Have a Secretary?
Presumably, Bayside High was a large, coeducational learning facility with many students. Yet somehow, Mr. Belding was denied a secretary. Even stranger was the fact that his office was located in the hallway by some lockers. I don't know about you, but in my four years of high school, I never saw the principal's office. It was locked away somewhere, down cavernous hallways, protected by secretaries and assistant principals and deans of instruction. Yet at Bayside, any student could just open the door and saunter in to find Mr. Belding at his desk. There wasn't even someone to field his calls? (Also, why the hell did he keep saying, "Hey, hey, hey, what is going on here?" You know, maybe if he'd had a secretary, he wouldn't have had to ask so much!)
9. Why Were The Nerds So Intensely Nerdish?
Saved by the Bell was so fundamentally classic in its understanding of high school, so by-the-book in its peer group analysis, so trapped by outmoded stereotypes, that the writers of Saved by the Bell made John Hughes look like Jean-Luc Godard. (Did I just type that?) Regardless, what I never understood about the nerds at Bayside was that they were the kind of nerds you dress up as if you are going to be a nerd for Halloween. The pocket protectors, the glasses with the tape in the middle, the high-waisted pants. What people, nerds or otherwise, actually dress in this fashion? They were even named things like Maxwell Nerdstrom and Melvin Nerdly. I mean, come on. I recognize that The Bell wasn't aiming for complete reality, but most nerds I knew in high school looked like ordinary people, except they were, like, obsessed with D&D and never looked up when they walked. Would it have killed the creators to do a little research?
8. Wither Tori Scott?
Genius pop culture writer Chuck Klosterman has written quite eloquently on the so-called Tori Paradox before, but I'll go ahead and restate it here. Wasn't it strange that in the final season, a new character named Tori Scott (played by Leanna Creel) was a sort of substitute for Elizabeth Berkley and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, both who had refused to renew contracts? What was strange about this is that the final season took episodes starring Creel and mixed them in with episodes that had already been shot which featured Berkley and Thiessen. What were we supposed to think? That while Tori Scott was hanging with her new pals at Bayside, Kelly and Jessie were doing lines in the bathroom? Of course not, because Kelly and Jessie would never do such a thing (I think). Still, they could have at least mentioned them. And in the final episode where they all graduate, Tori Scott is nowhere to be seen. Maybe she got expelled.
7. Was There An Upstairs? And If So, Why Didn't They Have Classes There?
It was not an infrequent event to see the Bayside kids trotting down the stairs to the first floor. Yet there seemed to be no classes upstairs. All coursework took place in one classroom conveniently located across the hall from Mr. Belding's secretary-less office. History, economics, English, mathematics. It didn't matter. It all took place in the same room. What was this, Bayside One Room School House? Utilize the full space, Mr. Belding.
6. They Did it ALL! Are We Supposed to Believe This?
Track, cheerleading, newspaper, football, planning Homecoming, planning Prom, organizing the visit of drug-abusing anti-drug speaker Johnny Dakota (the irony!) -- oh, were the Bayside kids in the thick of it all. But not all the Bayside kids. Just our pals Zack, Slater, Kelly, Jessie, Lisa, and Screech. Granted, all of us remember that coterie of elitists in our own high school that seemed to run the place and garner 23 pages in the yearbook every year, but even they shared duties with some of the plebeians once in a while. I seem to remember one episode where they all packed into Mr. Belding's office to talk with him about the Prom. What, did he bring snacks?