When I was in elementary school, Saved by the Bell lied to me about high school. It was so G-rated that my mom was cool with letting me watch it. And miraculously (or by design?) I never saw the episodes with drinking, marijuana, or the infamous caffeine pill addiction until I was much older. By that point, it was clear to me that the idyllic high school picture Saved By the Bell promised for my future was an utter lie. But did I scorn the show and bitterly deride it? No, of course not. I love Bayside! Instead, I began to think of Saved by the Bell as a live action cartoon. These kids always felt more like the Scooby-Doo gang than actual teenagers, and that’s pretty much why I loved this show and continue to love it as an adult.
However, being a light-hearted live action cartoon show did not keep this show from throwing in a few very special episodes, including an important message about drunk driving. This is one of the weird Tori episodes, but it’s a very special episode so we can overlook the glaring absence of Jessie and Kelly, who apparently only hung out with their friends for half of senior year and only when Tori wasn’t around. Personally, I found Tori pretty abrasive, so I like to imagine that Jessie and Kelly were eating at a separate lunch table and wondering why their friends had temporarily lost their minds.
Meanwhile, in Tori-land, Lisa has been soliciting votes for homecoming queen while Zack and Slater work on planning the after party. It’s a toga party, of course, and Tori wears her leather jacket over her toga because she wants us all to know she’s too cool for this shit. Slater’s been calling the football players idiots all night, and not in the “I’m harassing you because we’re teammates kind of way” but rather in the “I think you’re actually really stupid, so I’m going to talk about you behind your back to my real friends” kind of way. Slater clearly thinks all of these guys are lame, so it’s surprising when they easily peer pressure him into drinking beer. Slater then peer pressures Zack while Lisa looks on. Since the rest of the Scooby-Doo gang is doing it, Lisa accepts a glass of beer which one of her “loyal subjects” serves on a silver tray.
Tori may be the resident rebel but she does not under any circumstances drink, so she goes home. Screech, who also has not been drinking, offers to drive everyone home but they all decide it’s a better idea to drive drunk than let Screech drive the car. Screech is a major creep, so I can understand their reluctance to put him in charge but this is a stupid decision nonetheless.
Ah, the dramatic irony that is the very special episode. Zack drives everyone home to the tune of Wild Thing because that’s what cartoon character high schoolers listen to when they’re breaking the rules. Zack crashes the car, duh. And Tori comes to the rescue with by paying for a tow truck because she feels guilty about leaving them alone at the party. Ugh seriously, Tori you couldn’t even offer them a ride home? This is what I’m talking about. This shit is exactly why Jessie and Kelly can’t stand you.
By the way, did I mention that the car is Lisa’s parents’ Mercedes? Lisa’s parents are out-of-town, so they have the car towed to Zack’s house. I do not understand this part of the plan. Wouldn’t you want to take the car to a place with no parental supervision? This feels like a rookie mistake. I truly expect better form Zack Morris, but they say alcohol makes you dumb and this is some pretty dumb stuff indeed. Luckily for the gang, Zack’s dad doesn’t question anything even though everyone is wearing a toga and it’s the middle of the night. The next day everyone is hung over. They’re also at school, so this was apparently a weeknight party? But the worst part for everyone seems not to be oh—that they could have easily died while driving buzzed down the road—but that they feel sooooo guilty for lying about it. And also A.C. Slater can’t play in the homecoming game because he broke his arm in the accident. He’s managed to completely repair, buff, and wax the car, but throwing a football would be too much for his injury. But the car won’t start and Zack’s dad comes out as they’re trying to explain and all of the lies pile up until they have to come clean! The guilt is too much!
Very Special Lesson: The lies you tell to cover up drunk driving are more painful than the actual drunk driving—wait…that can’t be right.
Okay, I think I have it this time:
Very Special Lesson: Tori sucks. I think it is safe to say that this never would have happened without Tori. I know, I know, you’re like “But aren’t you being a little unfair to Tori? She didn’t even drink!” Listen, if it weren’t for Tori being a totally insufferable addition to the friend group, Kelly and Jesse would have been at that party and Jesse Spano would NEVER let her friends experiment with alcohol and other drugs after what she learned from her own addiction.