I’ve often thought about how much easier things would be if life were like “Saved by the Bell”. Yep, I’ve devoted head space to this, not once, but several times. Part of that reason stems from the fact that everything is boiled into very simple components – a sort of simplicity that real life, let’s face it, fucking blows at.
I just wanted to know how old you are, dick.
1. All you need to get ahead are some attractive friends.
Samuel “Screech” Powers is fairly smart for a high schooler. I mean, he built his own sentient robot named Kevin and programmed him to be more interactive than pretty much any robot, er, ever. That kind of programming is pretty impressive for fully functioning geniuses, let alone those in the relentless grasp of puberty.
Oh God, I'd be so much smarter if I could stop thinking about boners.
And by all accounts, Screech is pretty much only good at one thing: being smart. He lacks charm, extended periods of coordination, social tact, charisma, confidence, good looks, guile, sex appeal, and other things us humans find to be very helpful in our pursuits. But he has one thing that very few of us have which is a plucky and stupid-hot best friend that gets away with everything. Who also happens to be rich. And likes us for inexplicable reasons: whose coolness is so abundant that they have it to spare and could give a fuck where it lands. It’s coolness by association.
Here’s the sad truth: people like Screech and people like Zack don’t become best buddies. They wouldn’t even know each other. Chances are even higher that people like Zack would beat the shit out of people like Screech…and then steal their girlfriends…you know, because what do they care.
"You don't mind if I do your girlfriend in front of you, do you nerd?"
2. The girl/boy of your dreams will go out with you if you beat them down enough.
Screech likes Lisa Turtle. Lisa Turtle does not like Screech. So, of course, the two go on a date, right? Because that’s what happens when you like somebody out of your league. In the episode where they go on a date, Screech actually gets mad at Lisa for being on the phone during said date because, you know, who the hell is SHE?!
Only the hottest girl you'll ever have the privilege of buying dinner for, that's who.
In real life, girls like Lisa Turtle don’t go on pity dates with the nerdiest guy they’ve ever met – they get restraining orders. Girls like Lisa Turtle will, however, go out with those nerds like Screech if they’re rich, which Screech is still several years from becoming. But hey, just beat em down and they collapse like a Chilean mine. That strategy has never worked with me and I’m pretty confident it never worked with you either.
3. You don’t have to do much work to sustain a relationship.
Zack dates Kelly. Jessie dates A.C. Kelly also dates Jeff and breaks Zack’s heart. Zack dates Tori. Zack dates Stacey. Screech dates Violet. Zack dates Lisa Turtle and breaks Screech’s heart. There’s a lot of dating going on. Some of this even has the appearance of being meaningful (spoiler: Zack and Kelly do end up getting married. Sorry bros). But here’s the kicker: none of them ever talk about anything! You know all those questions you ask? You know all that prodding to get to the meat of somebody? The small talk? The long talks? The getting-to-know-you-so-you-can-get-to-know-me talks? There’s no use for them at Bayside. Here’s a conversation between Jessie and A.C.:
You Macho Pig. Oink, Oink, Baby
Here’s a conversation between Kelly and Zack:
Zack: Come on, I’ll walk you to class. What’ve we got?Kelly: Chemistry.
Zack: We sure do.
It’s a series of one-liners. A series of little jokes about how hot they all are. And they fall in love without ever really knowing anything about each other except the things that everyone else knows: Kelly’s hot, Zack’s clever, A.C. is a dumb jock, Jessie’s a feminist, Lisa is popular. That’s it. If all great relationships followed this example, well….they’d be awesome.
Goddamn, isn't this great not learning anything about what's-her-face?
4. It’s all about letting them think you’re cool.
Mr. Belding is the harried and inept principal of Bayside High. By what I gather, he’s not really good at anything except asking “Hey, hey, hey, hey, what is going on here?”
I'm dressed like a hoodlum, what do you think is going on here?
When Zack treats him like a douchebag, he doesn’t get bent out of shape about it. When the opposing high school vandalizes the sacred bastion of Bayside, he doesn’t let it bother him long. In the end, all that really matters is having fun, letting the kids think you’re cool and….what?
Yep, Mr. Belding lets it all slide as long as Zack and the gang let him feel a part of the action.
By what I know of most adults, especially those in authority, they get no greater pleasure than knocking the youthful elite down a few pegs. Because they got knocked down a few pegs themselves. Mr. Belding and the other teachers at Bayside spent their adolescence getting berated and patronized by their elders, and goddammit, a punk like Zack Morris isn’t going to break that chain.
"Aw, he thinks he's people."
Mr. Belding, if he were to exist in real life, would make it his mission to make those kids pay dearly for all the shit he put up with. He’s got decades of life on them and knows what’s cool and what’s not, and a cocky teenager ain’t it. But in the world of “Saved by the Bell”, all that matters is having jerks young enough to be your kids think you’re cool. Vandalism, truancy, and general douchebaggery account for nothing.
If I ever get into a position of authority where I can boss kids around, you bet your shitty-childhood-havin’ ass that I will take advantage. And mine wasn’t even that bad. Could you imagine Mr. Belding’s?
But life isn’t like “Saved by the Bell” and it isn’t wrapped up in neat little packages with commercial breaks and milkshakes at The Max. It’s always a bit more complicated, more nuanced, more of everything. But a girl can dream. And hey, there’s always a rerun somewhere.