Saved by the Bell. Seminal show for children and teens of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Ironic object of enjoyment for adults worldwide. Nostalgic fluff that makes for fun listicles. Monstrous graveyard of one teen boy’s sexual conquests.
All of these things ARE DEATHLY TRUE.
For an uber clean-cut television program that never even posited the notion of sex, Zack Morris flipped through poon like a 1991 Sears Christmas catalog and disposed of every page. With the exceptions of eternal teen bride Kelly Kapowski, the incomprehensible Tori and, very oddly, Veronica Vaughn from Billy Madison, Zack rarely dated the same girl twice. But the true terror lies in one shared fact: these girls were never seen or heard from again.
Am I implying Zack Morris had a room full of teen girls in the basement of Bayside, hiding his conquests away from the world, their screams silenced by the sounds of Zack Attack and anti-dope PSA filmings? No. Of course not. But Belding probably did. That guy was into some fucked up shit.
Here are the most damagingly broken hearts of Zack Morris, fragile flowers never again to be seen in the halls of Bayside.
Zack and his friends decide to start a “teen line” to counsel fellow high schoolers with their problems, like the overweight girl who calls Lisa and gets the helpful, smiling advice to take her fatty problems to Overeaters Anonymous. But Zack of course crosses the line of appropriateness by immediately trying to bang the girl who calls his line, complaining of overprotective parents. After he convinces her to change all the clocks in her house to deceive her parents into a later curfew, he asks her on a date to The Max where he discovers, GASP, she’s in a wheelchair. He spends the rest of the episode throwing a total snit fit about her disability and then throws a wheelchair basketball game for reasons. He learns a valuable lesson about people in wheelchairs and they fall in love. And then she’s never seen again. Her parents presumably have no idea she’s gone because their clocks are all fucked up and they believe only ten minutes have passed since 1992.
You’d think toying with the emotions of a girl with a physical disability would be enough for our hero, but heavens no, because then there was that time he brought his love ‘em and leave ‘em spirit to a homeless girl. Zack discovers a homeless gentleman in the bathroom at the mall who later passes out and is taken to the hospital, and then double-discovers that the homeless man’s daughter is the girl he’d been flirting with earlier in the episode! He’s shocked because she seemed like a person but then he finds out she’s homeless! Homeless people are people, too! Lessons! Anyway, not only does Zack pledge his eternal love to this girl, but they appear to move in with the Morris family. Except we never see or hear of them again. So either Zack dumped his new roommate and ignored her for the rest of his life, or his family is in on his sick games. That makes sense. I mean, someone had to pay for the kid’s life-size Kelly cutout.
Homeless? Fine. In a wheelchair? Great. Fat? HEY, HEY, HEY, HEY, WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? So, one time, the Bayside student council decided to hold a date auction because that’s something high schools do with their teenage children students. Zack gets bid on by Wendy, a zaftig young lady on student council who we’ve never seen before. We’ve also never seen that our core crew makes up the rest of the student council, making about 4,000 activities these children were involved in, dear god, why did no one ever let them just sit on the couch? Anyway, Zack fakes a hurt back to get out of his date with Wendy and she eventually sees through his clever ruse and tells him what’s what. He learns a valuable lesson about seeing inner beauty, dances with Wendy at the school dance and then immediately never speaks to or sees her again and only dates conventionally attractive thin girls. Jesus, Jessie Spano, it’s like you never taught this boy a goddamn thing.
Look, it’s one thing to do all this to women. We’re barely people. But this time Zack hurt a bro. A BRO, YOU GUYS. Slater’s sister comes to town, and as sisters are in television and film and the actual dating rules of the Duggar family, she is Slater’s property and he is granted sole say and agency in her sex life. Zack decides he must have her because they are in LOVE and he nearly destroys his friendship with Slater over this eternal forever lovedom. Then Slater decides his sister is a big girl and can make decisions for herself, and LETS her date Zack. Because they’re clearly in love and this will be a worth-it effort. Then literally no one ever talks about her again, including Slater. So, yeah. Totes worth it.
OK, obviously we see Lisa again. But not as a sexual being for anyone but Screech, for whom she is claimed human property for the duration of the show. In this one episode, Zack and Lisa fall IN LOVE, betraying Screech for aforementioned reasons of claimed human property, regardless of constantly verbalized non-consent. Ultimately, Screech forgives Zack and Lisa and LETS her date him because they are clearly in love and this will be a worth-it effort. Yep. Sure was. For that one episode. Then never even imagined again.
Zack Morris, consider this your intervention. Or your interrogation. WHERE ARE THE GIRLS, ZACK? Also, where’s Jessie’s step-brother? Did you do something with him, too? It’s been 20 years, dude, just come clean.