This is a super timely post because I just impulse bought 2 tickets to Saved by the Max earlier today. See you in June, Chi-town!
Anyway, this is a college years episode. I actually didn’t think I had seen it before but then I got a few minutes in and realized I actually had seen this on TBS when I was like 15. And I loved these characters so much that I didn’t even think this episode was dumb.
But it actually is dumb, so I’ll focus on that for now. There’s a Latina in Slater’s class and she’s like really smart and brings up really great, thoughtful commentary. So Slater’s like getting to know her and she introduces him to Chicano Studies. He starts to learn more about his roots, which is cool. So like yeah, I can see how this could have been a great episode. Except that…
Slater gets all pissed off that Zack doesn’t know he’s Chicano. (Zack assumed he was Italian). But like Slater didn’t really seem to know he was Chicano. I mean sure, he probably knew it technically but Slater is like suddenly aware of his ethnicity. And then he thinks that he’s being discriminated against.
Okay, slow down there AC Slater. You know how Cuba Gooding, Jr. has that line in American Crime Story: “I’m not black, I’m OJ.” Well, yeah. I mean AC Slater is basically the OJ Simpson of Saved by the Bell. (But like personality wise he’s the OJ from the Hertz Commercials and not the OJ from real life). So like I’m pretty grossed out that Slater is playing the “race card.” Like you went to Bayside High, dude. You are America’s Sweetheart so shut the eff up.
But then Slater kind of comes to his senses and explains to Zack that he didn’t even know that his real last name was Sanchez until he started researching his heritage and that knowing his history is really important to him. Okay, cool. So like great. We’re all on the same page now, right? Wrong. Never underestimate Zack’s penchant for being an asshole. He once again makes everything about himself. (He’s pissed off because Slater won’t ditch the Latina he likes in order to go skiing with him and some babes). Zack says, “If you want to be a Chicano then be a Chicano. Just be one in Lake Tahoe.”
Slater says, “Haven’t you ever cared about anything other than your self?” NO! He hasn’t. Why are you even friends with this dude?? Kelly, Jesse, Slater, Lisa, and even Tori–they’re all relatively nice people. Why are they hanging out with this dude who has been treading water on the path to emotional intelligence for at least 4 years at this point? His hair is not that great. Especially not in the college years!
Also, hello Zack. Did you not spend like an entire freaking episode being a Native American and saying that was important to you??? So now Slater is a jerk for being into his Chicano heritage?
But he’s our “hero,” so he has to redeem himself. He goes to the sit-in that Slater and the other Chicano students are staging (because they want to establish a new department–it is basically a B plot–don’t worry about it.) While there Zack talks a cop out of arresting all the Chicano students (ugh white savior #amiright). But actually the cop wasn’t going to arrest them in the first place. So the only benefit of this speech is that Slater realizes that Zack cares about him and their friendship.
Just wait Slater. He’s going to screw you over in the next episode. This has already happened like 72 times.
Very Special Lesson: You know what, Mark Paul Gosselaar has got to be like the nicest man on the planet because based on the script alone Zack is the least sympathetic character ever. I’m convinced that he’s probably like a saint or something who when given that script somehow balanced out into this compelling character.