Thursday, December 28, 2017

Things I Learned from Saved by the Bell: Part 3

I'm back with the third installment of my sporadic series, "Things I Learned from Saved by the Bell." Feel free to check out Part 1 & Part 2.

Like most other older millennials, Saved by the Bell was a crucial part of my development. Despite the cheesiness of it all I learned a lot about life, like how to dress or that caffeine pills could derail your burgeoning music career.

But the most poignant lessons were about relationships. It was hard to avoid. It was a show about hormonal teenage friends in high school, and everything revolved around the ostensible BMOC, Zack Morris.

Zack & Slater vied for Kelly. Zack eventually dated Kelly, and Slater started dating Jessie. Zack at some point made out with every girl in the group: Kelly, Jessie, Lisa, and let us not forget Tori. A Zack Attack, if you will. (Sorry. I haven't written anything in a while.)

I guess the lesson learned here is... Kiss every girl in your friend group until someone likes you?

Don't worry. That was not the reason I dusted off the old Blogger password. I saw a lot of Hallmark Christmas movie commercials this month, and I saw one starring Patrick Muldoon.

You probably know Patrick Muldoon as Jeff, the sophomore who transferred from Michigan to UCLA & is apparently qualified to be the manager at The Max, a local small business, while he's taking 15 credits (I assume). He may be 19, unless he's an older sophomore, which is entirely plausible. He also happened to be the reason Kelly dumped Zack.

Seeing this homewrecker on a Hallmark movie commercial dredged up painful memories. I can still hear Slater & Jessie lip-sync battle the Michael Bolton classic, "How am I Supposed to Live without You," in the background as Kelly is simultaneously dumping Zack & making him feel bad that she cheated on him. Personally, I think it's one of the classic scenes in sitcom history.

I decided to watch the whole episode. I remember watching it when I was younger and thinking how much that sucked for Zack. I wanted to see how I'd react to it now.

My first reaction: Marc-Paul Gosselaar is terrible at acting. It felt like he was just running lines to Tiffani Amber Thiessen's big dramatic moment.

Second reaction: Zack was way too nice. Just watch the end. It's painful, aside from the aforementioned lip sync battle performance.

Third reaction: Damn this seems familiar. Oh, right. The exact same thing happened to me in high school. My girlfriend was one year younger than me. It was the typical situation you've heard a thousand times: I'm going off to college in the fall, she's still going to be in high school, and we're figuring out if & how we're going to do the long-distance thing.

Unfortunately for me, I didn't need to make any decisions. My girlfriend pretty much left me (also probably cheated on me) for an older manager at work. He was 23ish, and she was 17 & still in high school... However, instead of being the manager at The Max, he was the manager of the dishwashing/cleaning staff at the bakery where I worked. He didn't wear ties with puffy shirts, rather he wore an apron.

Another reason I wanted to watch the whole episode is I honestly didn't remember what happened leading up to that break-up scene. I was curious to see how Jeff seduced Kelly.

Well, it's quite amazing how watching something after 20+ years changes your perspective on things. Every scene with Jeff & Kelly could be an instructional video on what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace: ogling a prospective employee during an interview, telling an employee you miss her, telling an employee she looks good, kissing an employee, not to mention using his position of power (Manager, The Max) to seduce a subordinate.

There's also a scene where Belding says that boys who dress as girls for the Costume Ball still need to use the boys bathroom. Not even getting into that...