We’ve been inundated with so many reboots over the past couple of decades that we rarely get excited when one of our old favorite TV shows gets the reboot treatment. The bright side of those managed expectations is that when something brought back to life actually works, it’s a lovely surprise. This is the situation with the new Saved by the Bell reboot, which recently debuted on NBC’s new streaming platform, Peacock.
The new series features many of the old familiar faces—Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), Kelly (Tiffani Thiessen), Slater (Mario Lopez), and Jessie (Elizabeth Berkley) are back, but they’re relegated to supporting roles. As nostalgic as it is to see them, the sidelines are where they should be, because the stories of the new Bayside High students are much more important. Zack’s son Mack (Mitchell Hoog) is a rich student in the same mold as Zack—even more so, though, as his dad is now governor of California. He’s living the good life until his school starts busing in kids from high schools that have recently closed (a consequence of the actions of dear old dad).
Suddenly, Mack and his wealthy cohorts have to face something they’ve given little thought to: social inequality. Zack Morris never spent one moment considering his privilege, but this new generation doesn’t just become aware of it, they actually have to deal with it. It’s a major tonal change from the original, and it’s more than welcome, because who wants to watch a group of rich brats skipping class and skirt rules in 2021?
While the new Saved by the Bell has a social conscience, that doesn’t mean it lacks a sense of humor. In fact, it’s much funnier and sharper than the original. 30 Rock alum Tracy Wigfield is running the new series, which also gets many well-deserved laughs from the cast good-naturedly making fun of the original show’s conceits. It’s really the only way this show would work, considering how tone-deaf it would otherwise be.