The Bayside Gang have all gotten seasonal jobs at the mall! Slater is a gift-wrapper and Jesse is taking photos as Santa’s Village. Apparently, they let high schoolers do that. Totally saves on the cost of a professional photographer! Kelly’s working retail and it turns out that she’s working with a hot girl named Laura.
Zack’s got the hots for Laura (like he does for every girl he meets) and starts to tell her about how he gave a homeless man he met in the bathroom some cash for food. Zack says he hopes the guy actually used it for food and isn’t a “wine-o.”
Yes, Zack is once again proving to us that he is a jackass. Even worse, it turns out that the guy from the bathroom is Laura’s dad and they’re both homeless. So Zack’s blanket-insult also insulted his new love-interest. Just when you think Zack might finally get the brutal rejection he deserves, he apologizes to Laura and says he’s just ignorant. He comes from such an affluent background that he thinks poor people are people who don’t have cable. Ick.
Kelly and Slater rush to his rescue and tell Laura to give him a chance. For some stupid reason she does. But like also she’s homeless and this dude wants to take her out to dinner, so I’m guessing this is just survival on her part.
After getting a photo with Santa, Laura and Zack bump into Zack’s mom. She invites her to participate in the mall’s production of A Christmas Carol. Alas, the mall truly was a beacon of social and cultural life in the 90’s. Shortly thereafter, Laura’s dad collapses in the mall. When the gang goes to visit him (following the party that candy striper, Lisa, is throwing for the kids there) they find Laura visiting him and realize that she’s homeless too.
Zack and his mom learn that most of us are just a few pay checks from financial instability. Laura is currently the sole bread-winner with her mall retail job. Kelly tries to help her buy a sports coat for her father by telling their boss that she’s homeless, so he will give her an advance on her pay.
But their boss is an even bigger jackass than Zack and says he would have never hired Laura had he known she was homeless. When everyone heads off to A Christmas Carol, Kelly puts the sports coat behind the counter because she plans to buy it for Laura.
The gang’s production is horrible. I mean it’s so bad that I’m not even able to make fun of it in a humorous way here. It’s so boring and it’s six minutes of my life I will never get back. Slater plays Tiny Tim. Wtf. He’s the largest person there. But I will say this, there’s something charming about Tiffani Theisan’s cockney accent. Someone hire her for Pygmalion!
Anyway, the show ends and the store owner freaks out when he finds the coat missing. He calls Laura a thief when he cannot find a sales receipt and she runs away. The gang searches for Laura but no one can find her or her dad. So then Zack’s mom is like well, it’s time to buy a Christmas tree. And Zack is all like, “No, mom. I’m not in the mood.” And she’s like, “It’s time to get on with Christmas.” What??? No. What??? It’s not like “the show much go on” like you’re definitely just choosing to stop looking for these people after a few hours because you really need to get a Fraser Fir in your living room this evening??? I have no words. Like Zack’s mom might be a sociopath.
Coincidentally, Laura and her dad are living in their car at the Christmas tree lot! How convenient! I guess Zack’s mom actually is okay because she doesn’t want to leave these poor people sleeping in their car on Christmas Eve. So they stay with Zack and his mom instead. And also the retail store owner from the mall realizes he’s been a total dick and hand delivers the wrapped coat to Laura at Zack’s house. They’re going to stay there until Laura’s dad gets a new job, which he’s totally going to be able to do now that he has a sports coat.
So hm. I mean I feel like these people were all just like nice to some homeless people but like didn’t really help them until they fled the freaking mall where they probably lived. I mean Zack and his mom invited them over for dinner ONE TIME after Laura’s dad was in the hospital for collapsing from malnutrition. And then they were like “bye! we’ll see you at the mall sometime later on!” But you know what, this is Saved by the Bell, the people who brought you “Running Zack.” And by that standard, this is really thoughtful and progressive.
Also, OMG Jessie and Zack are next door neighbors? How did I not know this??
Very Special Lesson: All I learned from this is that you can live at the mall and that the Morris Family are a bunch of assholes for not buying that man a full suit and letting that poor desperate girl spend their food-money on that sports coat instead. This is the 90’s. People still wore suits to work at like every corporate job in America! But no. They needed to buy that damn Christmas tree.
I think this calls for an incredulous Tori.