Peacock's Saved by the Bell revival had a bit of a rough start with a Selena Gomez joke resulting in immense fan backlash online. With one episode referencing Gomez's kidney transplant that she had in 2017, fans of the "Lose You to Love Me" singer criticized the reboot on social media so much that "Respect Selena Gomez" was trending over the weekend. The controversy has led to Peacock, NBC Universal, and the show's producers apologizing as well as donating to Gomez's lupus charity.
"We apologize," their official statement from Peacock reads. "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 controversial moment in question comes in the sixth episode of the rebooted series. In the episode, the Bayside High students have their phones taken away, and hilarity ensues when they try to figure out what to do with themselves without immediate access to the internet. One particular scene sees two students arguing over who donated a kidney to Gomez in 2017 after her lupus diagnosis, as neither is able to Google the question to really know for sure.
Several years prior to her transplant, Selena Gomez was first diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. In September 2017, the singer explained her withdrawal from all public events by revealing that she'd received a kidney transplant from her friend, actress Francia Raisa. Gomez would later add that her lupus had caused severe anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. Given the seriousness of the situation, fans felt that it was inappropriate for Saved by the Bell to make light of it.
The new Saved by the Bell began streaming on Peacock on Nov. 25. A direct sequel to the original series and its two spinoffs, the new show brings back most of the original main characters: Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano, Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater, Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris, Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Morris, Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle, and even Ed Alonzo as Max. New cast members include Haskiri Velazquez, Josie Totah, Mitchell Hoog, Alycia Pascual-Pena, Belmont Cameli, Dexter Darden, and John Michael Higgins.
In the reboot series, Zack Morris is now the governor of California. Due to the controversy of Governor Morris closing too many low-income schools, he responds by sending lower-income students to the highest-performing schools in the state. This leads to a mixture of students from both "overprivileged" and working-class families learning to coexist at Bayside High.
As for Gomez, the singer and actress recently launched her own cooking show on HBO Max. Called Selena + Chef, each episode features Gomez joined remotely by a different professional chef where they take on a new cuisine and provide tips for viewers to use in their own kitchen. The series recently had a Thanksgiving special and all episodes are currently streaming on HBO Max.
This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.