Saved by the Bell Reboot: Why Showrunner Wanted to Show Bayside High as a ‘Bubble of Privilege’

Ally Mauch
·3-min read

Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank

Peacock’s Saved by the Bell reboot has officially premiered, and showrunner Tracey Wigfield is sharing how she reimagined Bayside High in the modern-day iteration of the classic ’90s sitcom.

The reboot features several original stars, including Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley, alongside young newcomers Josie Totah, Haskiri Velazquez and more, who star as the new students at Bayside.

Similar to the original, the students at Bayside are initially mostly White, wealthy and privileged. Their world is shaken up, however, when Mark Paul Gosselaar's Zack Morris (now the governor of California) decides to send students from a now-closed, low-income high school to the state's best schools, including Bayside.

In a recent Q&A with Vulture, Wigfield said she wanted to present the fictional school as a “bubble of privilege.”

Trae Patton/Peacock Saved by the Bell reboot

RELATED: Elizabeth Berkley on Returning to Saved by the Bell After Nearly 30 Years: 'Feels Like Coming Home'

“The show’s not about a crazy-rich private school or anything, but it was about all-American kids who were growing up in the Palisades and they really don’t have anything high-stakes going on besides, ‘Who am I going to take to the harvest dance?’” she said of the initial Saved by the Bell. “I was trying to imagine in 2020, could there be kids like that and could there be a place like that? In my mind, the answer was yes, maybe, but it would have to be because of privilege and wealth.”

She continued, “That’s the only way you can be a kid now who always has a safety net and who, when they get into trouble or when something goes wrong, it’s not that big of a deal, it can be fixed in 22 minutes. That led me to think about Bayside as this bubble of privilege, with the trappings of the old show that we love.”

RELATED: Mario Lopez Says There Are 'Easter Eggs' Throughout Saved By the Bell Reboot: 'I'm Excited'

She set out to satirize the “bubble,” often making fun of the characters and plot lines in the original sitcom — a concept that Wigfield said the former stars “were really game” for.

“I had lunch with Elizabeth and Mario and pitched the updated versions of their characters to them. They were really game, Mario especially,” she said of Lopez, 47, whose character, A.C. Slater, is a high school gym teacher with few prospects in the reboot.

“I was excited that he was like, ‘Yep, [Slater’s] a total loser, that sounds great,’” she added. “I was a little nervous about whether he was going to want to play a cool guy or something, and he was really game for it and saw what was funny about it right away.”

Speaking with PEOPLE for this week's issue, Berkley opened up about reprising her role as Jessie Spano.

"It's a very special thing we share," Berkley, 48, said of her former costars Lopez, Gosselaar, Tiffani Thiessen and Lark Voorhies, who all appear on the reboot. "It's touching to have all these years of people that you care about and that you're rooting for. To be on those same sets with those faces I know and love so well feels like coming home."

Berkley, who is also a producer on the show, added of the reboot: "We wanted to introduce a new cast but also give fun winks and nods for the true fan."

"Saved by the Bell holds a special place in people's hearts," she said. "It's part of their childhoods, and that is sacred. We are all fiercely protective of that legacy."

Saved by the Bell is available to stream now on Peacock.