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Saturday, April 28, 2012

SBTB: The Preppie and The Jock

Can you believe that we’re almost into the month of May?  2012 really seems to be flying by, doesn’t it?

May is a rather important month for this blog.  The blog’s first anniversary happens to be in May, so I really wanted to make the entries for this month quite special.  I never thought that I’d be hosting a blog, let alone hosting one for almost one whole year! 

May is also a fairly big month for this blogger as well.  This blogger’s birthday happens to be in May, and I have a little something planned for around that time as well. 

But before we get into May, we have to finish off the final weekend of April.  And, I can’t think of a better way to end April and kick off May than with a theme week.

This week’s theme week has to do with friendship.  Some of the entries will feature friendships between two very unlikely people.  Some of the entries will make you laugh, while others may make you cry.  And this week’s Thursday Confession will be one of my most personal ones ever, so stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, let’s get started with BEST FRIENDS WEEK with the Saturday morning entry.  And, as you can tell, the subject happens to be about the enduring friendship between a preppie and a jock.

I hear what some of you are saying.  How can two different high school social classes get along with each other?  Well, to tell you the truth, they didn’t at first.  During this Saturday morning NBC show’s first season, the preppie and the jock hated each other, and did everything that they could to one-up each other.  But as time passed, and the show gained in popularity, they started to get to know each other, and found that they had more in common than they thought.

Today, we’re taking another look back at the NBC Saturday morning sitcom, “Saved By The Bell” to focus on one of the more interesting friendships on the show.

Zack Morris and A.C. Slater.

Zack and Slater met each other for the first time at the beginning of their ninth grade year at Bayside High School, and both of them could not have been any more different from each other.

Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) was your stereotypical California prep.  Blond-haired, with an expensive wardrobe, and a mobile phone as big as a loaf of bread, Zack was the boy that many guys wanted to be like, and many girls wanted to date.  He was popular, and he knew how to socialize.  The downside was that he often got into trouble for not putting as much effort in his homework as he did with his datebook.

Contrast that with A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez).  An army brat, he was forced to move to several different places in the time span of just a few years.  Los Angeles, California was just the latest stop on the way, and by this time, Slater was used to it.  He did long to have a more stable childhood, and his greatest dream was to be able to stay at one school for more than one semester to live the life of a normal teenager. 

Needless to say, when Zack and Slater first met, it wasn’t exactly under the greatest circumstances.  In fact, almost immediately, both Zack and Slater clashed with each other, and the reason behind that was in the guise of a happy and perky fifteen year old cheerleader named Kelly Kapowski.

Kelly was the most popular girl in school, and she was also the nicest and kindest girl in all of Bayside High.  Some might actually agree that she was a little bit TOO kind for her own good.  She was also incredibly beautiful.

And both Zack and Slater wanted Kelly as their girl.

For Zack, it was understandable. Zack’s crush on Kelly was years in the making (despite the fact that Kelly never appeared during the “Good Morning, Miss Bliss” years at all).  Zack had idolized Kelly from afar.  He even had a cardboard cutout of her in his bedroom, which looking back on it seems a little bit on the creepy side now, but that’s just how much he wanted to be with her.  Kelly was the kind of girl that Zack wanted.

It’s just a shame that Slater also ended up developing a crush of his own on her.

The first year and a half of “Saved By The Bell” seemed to revolve around the Slater/Kelly/Zack love triangle.  Zack would try everything in his power to woo Kelly away from Slater.  He sold her skin cream invented by Screech to give her an edge in a beauty contest (only for the cream to turn her whole face a sickly shade of maroon).  He tried to intervene when Slater tried to give Kelly driving lessons (which lead to Slater and Kelly crashing the car into a wall of lockers).  Zack even tried to convince Slater to move to Hawaii by pretending that the rest of the school wanted him to go!  But no matter how hard Zack tried to get rid of Slater, Slater refused to go down quietly.  In many cases, Slater proved himself to be quite the foil to every single one of Zack’s crazy schemes.  It almost got to the point in which Zack got incredibly annoyed with Slater for always being the one to ruin every scheme Zack came up with.

It also didn’t help at all that Slater had developed a friendship with the school principal, Mr. Belding...the same Mr. Belding who took much delight in giving Zack more detention passes than anyone else at Bayside High combined.

So, given that their first impressions of each other weren’t that great, how was it that Slater and Zack ended up becoming friends?

It all started when the love triangle between the two of them ended.  It was the prom, and Kelly had decided that she wanted Zack as her date.  Slater was dejected, but he ended up going to the prom with Jessie Spano instead.  But something happened to Kelly’s father.  He had lost his job, and there wasn’t enough money coming into the Kapowski household.  Kelly ended up giving her father the money that she was going to use to buy her prom dress, and she ended up having to cancel her date with Zack.  Zack, naturally, didn’t take it very well, and he was very angry.  But it wasn’t until someone told him about the real reason why Kelly backed out of the prom date that Zack had a change of heart.

And you know who was the one who set Zack straight?  Slater.

I think Slater ended up doing it for a couple of reasons.  For one, I think that he really did still care for Kelly as a friend, and he wanted to defend her decision to Zack to get him to see that he really should feel bad for her, instead of angry at her.  But, deep down, I think that it bothered Slater to see Zack so unhappy.  Although the way he talked to Zack was a bit curt and to the point, he really did it for Zack’s benefit.  I think this scene was probably the one that really thawed the tension between Zack and Slater.

As Zack and Kelly grew closer, Slater soon found that he was falling for Jessie.  And, would you like to know who ended up being a silent supporter for Slater and Jessie?


Granted, some would like to believe that the only reason Zack supported the Slater and Jessie union was so that Slater would stay away from Kelly, and maybe there was a little bit of truth to that.  But Zack had also been friends with Jessie since kindergarten (barring that brief moment in “Good Morning, Miss Bliss where Jessie, you know, didn’t appear at all).  The last thing that Zack wanted was to see Jessie get hurt.  For Zack to throw his support to Slater in his relationship with Jessie, it really said something.

In fact, when Zack and Slater ended up getting Kelly and Jessie mad at them, they ended up working together in an effort to ask for their forgiveness.  With assistance from Screech and Lisa, Zack and Slater set up their apology theatre at The Max.  Below is the scene featuring Slater’s apology to Jessie.

Yep...still painful watching this scene twenty years later.

The point is that the plan worked, the girls forgave the guys, and Zack and Slater realized that they made a fantastic team.

Zack and Slater would also end up looking out for each other in more ways than one.  When Slater was given a wrestling scholarship, but was afraid to tell his father (who expected Slater to go into West Point) that piece of news, Zack did what he could to help Slater out.  The wrestling scholarship was something Slater really wanted, and Zack really wanted Slater to be happy.

Mind you, the way Zack went about it was absolutely insane (he basically pretended to be Slater’s father and pretended to be Rambo during the pre-admission interview from the West Point representative), and he nearly got himself and Slater in a world of trouble.  However, in the end it all worked out, and Slater really appreciated Zack’s help.

Zack, in turn, was motivated to help out one of their mutual friends after Slater noticed something was off.  Jessie had developed an addiction to caffeine pills to try and balance schoolwork with the all-girl group she had formed with Lisa and Kelly.  Slater knew about it and tried to convince Jessie to give them up, but Jessie angrily blew him off.  So, Slater went to the person who knew Jessie better than anyone.

Of course, Zack refused to believe Slater at first, and he told Slater off.  But then Zack came across this scene...

...and he quickly realized that Slater was telling the truth.

Time passed, Jessie kicked her addiction, and Zack and Jessie were both grateful to Slater for getting involved.

Those are just some of the many examples that helped cement the friendship between Zack and Slater.  And by the time they graduated from Bayside High in 1993, they were the best of friends.

Mind you, that road was not easy going.  One moment, they were happily working on a school assignment or sharing a milkshake at The Max with Kelly and Jessie.  The next moment, they were doing this...

...but isn’t that what friendship is all about?  The highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows?

Both Zack and Slater experienced highs and lows at Bayside High.  But both of them still maintained a great friendship because they could find a way to forgive each others mistakes.  After all, Zack helped Slater plan a funeral for his dead chameleon.  And Slater helped Zack deal with his pain when he ended up breaking up with Kelly and Stacey Carosi, and practically every other woman Zack dated on the show.

And really, Zack and Slater were positive influences on each other.  Whereas Zack was a little bit spoiled and out of control, Slater really did a lot to help ground Zack, and made him realize that maturity could be a good thing.  And Zack became a friend to Slater when Slater was having a hard time making and keeping friends.  Zack basically introduced Slater into his circle of friends, and as a result, Slater ended up with five of the best friends he ever had.

So you see?  Sometimes first impressions can be overcome, and people can become really close after their first meeting ends in disaster.

Zack Morris and A.C. Slater are the living (albeit fictional) proof of that.

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