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‘Saved by the Bell’ Reboot Makes Fun of Selena Gomez’s Health Issues

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

The much-anticipated Saved by the Bell reboot, which started streaming Nov. 25, made a joke of singer and actress Selena Gomez’s kidney transplant from 2017, igniting backlash on social media from fans. 

Gomez underwent a kidney transplant as a result of her battle with lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease. Gomez announced the surgery for the first time in an Instagram post in September 2017, saying that it was necessary for her overall health. 

The Saved by the Bell reboot made two digs on Gomez’s health issues during the series’ sixth episode. The first controversial scene is between two Bayside students arguing about pop culture.

“I know for a fact that Selena Gomez’s kidney donor was Justin Bieber’s mom,” one of the students said. “God, I wish that I had my phone, so I could prove it.”

“Prove what? That you’re an idiot?” the other student replied. “It was Demi Lovato’s kidney. They’re best friends … like you and I were.”

In a different scene, a graffitied wall in the background reads, “Does Selena Gomez even have kidneys?” 

Fans of Gomez criticized the reboot for bringing negative light to such a severe health matter. “Respect Selena Gomez” was trending on Twitter Nov. 28 as fans publicized their support for Gomez on the issue. 

“I wholeheartedly think that the show took it too far when joking about Selena Gomez’s health,” University of Maryland sophomore Julia Eisen said.“I am sure that the writers could have come up with a hundred other funnier and less harmful punchlines to whatever joke they were trying to make.”

Besides editing out the references from the show’s streaming service, Peacock, NBCUniversal and the show’s executive producers issued an apology and announced that they would be donating to Gomez’s charity.

“We apologize. It was never our intention to make light of Selena’s health,” the statement said. “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.”

Ardyn Solomon, a sophomore at the University of Maryland and fan of Saved by the Bell, does not believe NBC did enough to express their sympathy to Gomez.

“They apologized to Selena and her team, but there was still a massive community of donors who felt as though their donations didn’t matter, and that NBC was making light of a very serious situation,” Solomon said. “NBC edited out the controversial scenes, but this isn’t enough, because the damage was already done. The press had already spread the word.”

Despite the publicized apology statement, donation and Twitter posts, Gomez has remained silent as the issue continued to unfold. Her best friend Francia Raisa, who gave Gomez her kidney, addressed the incident on Twitter, saying she appreciated the apology but reminded people to “not forget about the donors that potentially felt offended and dismissed.”

Saved by the Bell is now streaming the newly edited version of episode six on Peacock. 

Julia is a junior studying multi-platform journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park. Aside from writing for HC, Julia is a radio personality at WMUC radio and is involved in her sorority Phi Sigma Sigma and dance team "Phunktions." She spends most of her money on clothes she doesn't need and most of her time on TikTok.
Devon Milley is a junior at the University of Maryland College Park, majoring in multi-platform journalism and information science. She's currently a Campus Correspondent for her chapter. Raised in Pittsburgh, PA, Devon is a major Netflix binger, and loves coffee and ice cream. Follow her on Instagram @dnm1023 and Twitter @Devon_MIlley.